PI Original Angela Caputo Friday August 28th, 2009, 10:04am

Madigan, Feds Challenge Coal-Fire Polluters

Public health experts and environmental advocates have warned for years about the grave consequences of allowing Illinois' coal-fired power plants to operate without adequate pollution controls. To their delight, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and federal authorities made ...

Public health experts and environmental advocates have warned for years about the grave consequences of allowing Illinois' coal-fired power plants to operate without adequate pollution controls. To their delight, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and federal authorities made clear yesterday that they won't wait on Congress to adopt climate change laws that would finally force some of the Prairie State's oldest and largest polluters to retrofit their aging plants. On behalf of Madigan and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Justice Department filed suit in federal court against longtime polluter Midwest Generation LLC.  The complaint alleges that the company is operating in violation of a provision of the Clean Air Act -- known as New Source Review -- that requires plants that have undergone major modifications to upgrade their pollution controls. The Tribune has the details:

The lawsuit cites the company's two plants in Chicago (in Pilsen and Little Village), two in Will County (in Joliet and Romeoville), one in Waukegan and one outside Peoria [...]

Under a deal with the Illinois EPA, company officials already have agreed to clean up or close the six coal plants by 2018. The federal lawsuit could force the company to upgrade or shutter its plants faster.

In a release, Madigan noted that she is “very concerned about the negative health effects that these aging plants have on the people who live in the communities where the Midwest Gen facilities are located.” That concern has long been echoed by health experts and environmental advocates, some of whom announced plans to sue Midwest Generation on similar grounds last month.

Illinois Sierra Club's director Jack Darin tells us that members of that coalition will now attempt to "intervene" in the federal case to uphold the provision of the Clean Air Act -- which, incidentally, the Bush administration attempted to do-away with. Here's what he had to say about yesterday's legal development:

We are very pleased to see the Obama administration and Lisa Madigan step up to defend the air we breathe, and expedite Illinois transition to a cleaner energy future.

These plants have avoided modern pollution controls for too long, and hopefully there will be cleaner air on the way very soon.

Comments

Login or register to post comments