Clean Air Act

June 12, 2013

Portland power plant owners settle pollution lawsuit

Source: http://www.mcall.com, May 15, 2013
By: Peter Hall

Coal-fired generating units will cease operation six months earlier than scheduled

The Portland Generation Station will close June 1, 2014, about six months earlier than planned. (MONICA CABRERA, The Morning Call / June 15, 2011)

The owner of a power plant in Upper Mount Bethel Township has agreed to stop burning coal as part of a settlement in a lawsuit by two downwind states over air pollution.

NRG Energy, which acquired the Portland Generating Station last year in a merger with GenOn, will shut down two coal-fired generating units by June 2014 as part of the settlement with New Jersey and Connecticut, the company said in a statement Wednesday.…

June 4, 2013

Do liability policies, particularly pollution liability insurance policies, exclude coverage for all injunctions? The Fifth Circuit says no

Source: http://www.lexology.com, May 22, 2013
By: Robert S. Sanoff, Foley Hoag LLP

The Fifth Circuit handed down an important decision last week, Louisiana Generating LLC v. Illinois Union Insurance Company, clarifying the scope of coverage under a Premises Pollution Liability Insurance Policy. The policyholder sought coverage for a Clean Air Act suit by the United States alleging unpermitted major modifications that resulted in increased emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The insurer disputed coverage on the ground that the government under the Clean Air Act was seeking not remediation costs or compensatory damages but an injunction to repair emission control equipment to comply with regulatory standards. According to the insurer, injunctions were excluded from coverage under the Fines and Penalties exclusion to the policy.

Applying New York law, consistent with the insurance policy’s choice of law provision, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s summary judgment decision requiring the insurer to provide a duty to defend. The Fifth Circuit noted that the complaint by the United States was not limited to an injunction requiring repairs to the emissions control equipment but also sought remedial costs to address the release into the atmosphere of unpermitted levels of certain pollutants.

While the possibility of remediation costs was sufficient to trigger the insurer’s duty to defend, the Fifth Circuit went on in perhaps its most significant holding to reject the insurer’s argument (which had been adopted by the lower court) that the policy excluded all injunctive relief in its Fines and Penalties exclusion which precluded coverage for ”Payment of criminal fines, criminal penalties, punitive, exemplary or injunctive relief.” The Fifth Circuit construed that exclusion narrowly limiting it only to injunctions that were part of a criminal or punitive fine or penalty. As the Fifth Circuit explained, many environmental laws, like the Clean Air Act, are structured to obtain compliance through either voluntary remediation work or court ordered injunctions, and it would make little sense if a Premises Pollution Liability Insurance Policy provided coverage for voluntary remediation work but did not cover the same work when done under a court order:

If the Fines and Penalties exclusion is a complete bar for coverage of costs associated with injunctive relief, the exception would potentially swallow the coverage afforded by the policy. The policy would not cover claims under major federal environmental statues, such as the CAA and the Clean Water Act, when they are enforced by the EPA or state agencies seeking injunctive relief to mitigate and remediate past pollution.

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April 24, 2013

EPA settles with Wis. utilities on coal plant air pollution

Source: http://www.jsonline.com, April 22, 2013
By: Thomas Content

Wisconsin utilities are spending $1.2 billion to clean up aging coal-fired power plants and shutting down older plants under a settlement announced Monday with federal environmental regulators.

Under the settlement, filed in federal court in Madison on Earth Day, the utilities will be assessed a civil penalty of $2.45 million for alleged violations of air pollution laws over the years.

Wisconsin Power & Light Co. and the other utilities also agreed to pay $8.5 million to fund a series of environmental projects over the next five years. The projects include a $5 million investment in solar power and a $2 million investment to boost power production at wind and hydroelectric projects in Wisconsin.

But the big-ticket item in the settlement is the nearly $1.2 billion the utilities are spending to keep the largest of the coal plants operating by adding more modern pollution controls.

The settlement was filed in federal court in Madison Monday and then announced by EPA, the Sierra Club and Alliant Energy Corp., parent company of WPL.

The settlement, in the works for months, primarily involves Madison-based WPL, but also includes utilities that co-own or previously co-owned coal-fired power plants with WPL. Others named in the settlement are Wisconsin Public Service Corp. of Green Bay, Madison Gas & Electric Co. of Madison and We Energies of Milwaukee.

“This settlement will improve air quality in Wisconsin and downwind areas by significantly reducing releases of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other harmful pollutants,” said Ignacia Moreno, an assistant U.S. Attorney General, in a statement.…

March 22, 2013

Tank Farm Near RPV Faces EPA Lawsuit

Source: Palos Verdes Patch, March 16, 2013

Federal regulators have just sided with San Pedro area activists who claim that a tank farm storing up to 26 million gallons of liquid petroleum gas sits in an earthquake danger zone and is otherwise unsafe.

The Environmental Protection Agency late last week told Plains LPG Services it will soon be sued over alleged violations of Clean Air Act that stem from safety risks at the tank farm, which is located at the intersection of Gaffey Street and Westmont Drive in San Pedro near the border of Rancho Palos Verdes.

“This means the beginning of the end for them,” said Janet Schaaf-Gunter, leader of the San Pedro Peninsula Homeowners United group. That group has been campaigning for years to shut down the tank farm, which activists contend could trigger an accidental blast with a radius of 3.6 miles.

The tank farm stores 25 million gallons of propane and liquefied butane in two large tanks and multiple smaller ones.

No one could be reached at Plains LPG’s Gaffey Street offices Saturday. The company is owned by a Canadian subsidiary of Plains All American Pipeline in Houston, according to its website, and no one was available in Texas on Saturday.…

March 6, 2013

IN Oil Refiner Paying Millions for Pollution Controls

Read here about an oil refiner in Indiana who will pay millions to settle Clean Air Act violations.

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January 16, 2013

MTBE Pollution Trial in NH to Start

Read here about an MTBE Pollution Liability lawsuit against major oil companies that is expected to get underway soon.

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December 21, 2012

BRIEF: EBV pays nearly $600,000 penalty for emissions violations at plant near Carthage

Source: The Joplin Globe (MO), December 19, 2012
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

A munitions demolition plant near Carthage has agreed to pay a federal penalty of nearly $600,000 to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

Those allegations against EBV Explosives Environmental Co. include operating a thermal treatment unit without obtaining a valid permit, exceeding permitted emission limits for dioxins, hydrogen chloride, chlorine gas and particulate matter, and failure to operate monitors used to verify compliance with the permit.

The agreement with the company, which operates its plant on County Road 180 southwest of Carthage was announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency.

EBV in February 2011 notified the EPA that stack tests conducted in October 2010 showed hydrogen chloride emission rates at the plant were above permitted levels.

A consent order reached in January 2012 required EBV to install equipment to reduce the plant’s hydrogen chloride emissions below permitted levels, which has reduced hydrogen chloride and chlorine gas emissions by 200,000 pounds per year, according to the EPA statement.

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December 17, 2012

States Sue EPA

Read here about how seven states are suing the EPA over drilling methane.

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December 10, 2012

Tilden mobile home park owner faces environmental charges

Source: Reading Eagle (PA), November 29, 2012
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

A Tilden Township mobile home park owner was charged Wednesday with illegally discharging untreated sewage into a Schuylkill River tributary and falsifying permit applications, the state Attorney General’s office reported.

Frank Perano, 55, of the 2800 block of Main Street, Morgantown, faces three counts of unlawful conduct under the Clean Air Act and as many counts of tampering with public records, Attorney General Linda Kelly said in a prepared release.

Kelly said an investigation revealed that untreated or improperly treated sewage was discharged from the Village at Pleasant Hills Mobile Home Park in Tilden.

The park near Hamburg is one of more than 70 that Perano owns in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia.

For Pleasant Hills and two other mobile home parks in York and Dauphin counties, Perano also submitted renewal applications for pollutant-discharge permits that contained falsified information regarding sewage treatment, Kelly reported.

Perano could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Filed by the attorney general’s Environmental Crimes Section, the charges will be prosecuted in Berks County.

They come two months after the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced a $1.3 million settlement with Perano and a series of his corporations, which were accused of violating regulations related to clean drinking water and wastewater treatment.

In a joint consent decree, Perano agreed to pay the settlement and take measures to address the treatment problems.

Perano cooperated with the investigation and did not admit liability as part of the settlement, according to the EPA.

A judge has yet to sign the consent decree, but the DEP does not expect the attorney general’s charges to affect the settlement, said DEP spokeswoman Lisa Kasianowitz.

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June 21, 2012

EPA Settles Case in 2 States: Clean Air Act Case Brings $1 Million Penalty

Source: National Law Review, June 11, 2012
By Alice Su, Center for Public Integrity

The EPA issues a $1 million fine against a global plastics producer for alleged Clean Air Act violations in Alabama and Indiana.

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a $1 million fine against a global plastics producer for alleged Clean Air Act violations at its plants in two small, polluted communities seven hours apart in Alabama and Indiana.

The civil penalty against SABIC Innovative Plastics, announced May 31, targets leak detection and repair failings that resulted in hundreds of tons of hazardous air pollutant releases every year, the federal agency said.

SABIC, a global producer of polymers and thermoplastics, is a top employer in the two towns involved: Burkville, a rural community best known for hosting Alabama’s annual Okra Festival, and Mount Vernon, a town of just under 6,700 nestled in the southernmost tip of Indiana.

The EPA’s 15-count complaint said SABIC skirted Clean Air Act rules on monitoring and repairing equipment leaks, complying with chemical plant regulations and reporting known violations. SABIC agreed to the penalty to settle the case.

The Mount Vernon plant recently won several environmental awards. In 2011, the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable recognized it with a Most Valuable Pollution Prevention award. This April, the plant won three Responsible Care Energy Efficiency Awards from the American Chemistry Council.…