SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The Nation

March 24, 2011

EPA pursues Michigan's largest coal-fired plant

MONROE, Mich. — A Michigan utility spent $65 million last year replacing key parts at the state's largest coal-fired power plant. When regulators found out, they hauled the company into court for what it didn't do: Spend millions more at the same time to greatly eliminate air pollution.

The fight with DTE Energy isn't an isolated one. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department are aggressively suing electric utilities across the Midwest to get them to install the latest technology to capture smog-causing emissions.

The legal action is the latest shot in a decades-long conflict over bringing the utilities in line with the Clean Air Act. When Congress passed tougher standards in 1977, it allowed the industry to wait until older plants underwent a major overhaul before acquiring new anti-pollution equipment. The idea was that upgrades would be made gradually.

But more than three decades later, about half of U.S. coal-fired units — roughly 600 — lack advanced controls, EPA says. And years have been consumed in clashes among utilities, regulators and environmental groups over exactly what constitutes an overhaul and what is merely maintenance.

For people in Michigan and three other Midwestern states, court battles over pollution equipment could make a difference in the purity of air they breathe and the cost of electricity they use. The DTE case is set for trial this fall.

"What you're seeing is EPA's renewed vigor in enforcement of the Clean Air Act," said Cynthia Giles, an EPA assistant administrator. "The controls we're seeking to make companies install cost money. There are reasons for the industry to be pushing back. It's our job to insist on compliance."

In January, the EPA also sued utilities in Pennsylvania and Missouri. A case involving six coal-burning plants in Illinois is also pending. Meanwhile, there have been at least seven settlements since 2009 in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Kansas, with remedies ranging from cleaner fuel to millions of dollars in fines and pollution controls

Text Only | Photo Reprints
The Nation

AP Video
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve 3 People Killed, Deputies Wounded in NC Shootout Suing Obama: GOP-led House Gives the Go-ahead Obama: 'Blood of Africa Runs Through My Veins' Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Air Force: Stowaway Triggers Security Review Minnesota Fire Engulfs Home, Two Garages Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Officials Unsure of UCLA Flood Repair Date At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'