Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Friday August 16th, 2013, 4:03pm

Environmental Groups Push Back Against Dynegy Pollution Waiver

Environmental groups are strongly opposing Houston-based Dynegy Inc.'s recent request for a pollution-control waiver for five Illinois coal-fired power plants. 

The Sierra Club, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Respiratory Health Association and Natural Resources Defense Council filed formal objections with the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPBC) Thursday over the proposed pollution variance, which would give Dynegy five extra years to comply with Illinois’ Multi-Pollutant Standards.

Dynegy intends to purchase the five plants from St. Louis-based Ameren Corp., which announced in March that it would be leaving the state's power generation business.

IPBC granted Ameren a waiver last year allowing the company to put off installing technology to help curb soot pollution for five years. Ameren received the pollution waiver because it said it did not have the finances needed to finish installing the pollution-control equipment. If the waiver was not granted, Ameren said it would be forced to close one or two of its plants and lay off employees. (Click through for the full back story on Ameren's attempt to stall on meeting mandated emission reductions).

Ameren asked the IPBC this year to transfer its existing pollution variance to Dynegy, but the board denied that request in June. The board said Dynegy would have to demonstrate on its own that following the current law would cause the company undue hardship.

In response to the board's decision, Dynegy filed a petition last month for its own pollution variance.

Holly Bressett, deputy campaign director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign, released the following statement after the environmental groups filed their objections to Dynegy's request:

Dynegy has decided it wants to gamble big on coal, and roll the dice with fingers crossed that energy prices will go up to feed its profit margin. Unfortunately for our health, Dynegy’s gamble depends on postponing modern pollution controls on these plants that will save lives, reduce asthma attacks and other health problems.

Dynegy is out of line to ask Governor Quinn’s Illinois Pollution Control Board to back this risky business bet by gutting our clean air laws. Dynegy is entering this deal eyes-wide-open to the fact that these are old, outdated and polluting facilities, and they are asking the state to endorse its purchase of an aging and dirty fleet of coal plants before it even finalizes the deal. Any financial hardship they are claiming to the IPCB is clearly self-inflicted, and they ignore the hardship their pollution imposes on the thousands of Illinoisans who breathe polluted air.

Governor Quinn’s Pollution Control Board did the right thing earlier this year when they rejected a similar attempt to delay life-saving pollution controls on these plants. Dynegy’s “new” scheme is essentially the same flawed proposal - a five year delay in cleaning up some of the dirtiest polluters in Illinois, and we’re confident that the Board will again reject this dirty deal.

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