CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION TAKES ACTION TO REDUCE AIR POLLUTION
EMISSIONS FROM WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA POWER PLANT
(11/P17) TRENTON - New Jersey has taken legal action against another out-of-state coal-fired power plant that is spewing thousands of tons of pollutants into the air and impacting our State, yet another step in the continued commitment by the Christie Administration to improve air quality and protect public health in the Garden State.
New Jersey is seeking to join New York, Pennsylvania and the U.S. government in a lawsuit against Homer City Station, a 1,884-megawatt power plant in western Pennsylvania that is one of the most polluting power plants in the nation. The facility emits more than 100,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) annually, which leads to the creation of fine particulate matter, which is carried eastward by prevailing winds towards New Jersey, and contributes to acid rain.
The State’s legal action alleges that current and past owners of the Homer City Station violated provisions of the federal Clean Air Act by failing to install required state-of-the-art pollution controls when the plant underwent major modifications in the 1990s.
“The Christie Administration has made it clear that reducing air pollution in our State is a priority environmental issue, and that includes dealing with out-of-state sources of air pollution,’’ said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “Air pollution certainly does not stop at state boundaries. Even though this power plant is hundreds of miles away, emissions are affecting public health and environment right here in our State. That is unacceptable.’’
Inhalation of fine particles causes respiratory distress, cardiovascular disease and premature mortality, and is directly linked to increases in asthma attacks, lung diseases, and other health problems. Fine particles also affect water quality and are toxic to aquatic and plant life.
The Homer City generating station, currently operated by EME Homer City Generation LP, is a large coal-fired power plant, with a 1,217-foot-high smokestack, that is located 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, in Indiana County. It consists of three units. Units 1 and 2 began operating in 1969, and Unit 3 started up in 1977. Based on 2009 data, the Homer City plant emitted 101,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, which is transported to downwind states, including New Jersey.
New Jersey is seeking an injunction prohibiting further operation of the plant except in accordance with the Clean Air Act; civil penalties for past and ongoing violations of federal law; and mitigation of harm caused by defendants’ illegal emissions.
Defendants in New Jersey’s legal action are the current owner of the Homer City plant, which is a consortium of eight limited liability companies, and its operator, EME Homer City Generation LP. The plant's past owners include Pennsylvania Electric Co., and New York State Electric & Gas Corp. New Jersey alleges that PenElec and NYSEG modified the plant in the 1990s without obtaining required pre-construction permits or installing necessary pollution controls, and that all defendants named in the case subsequently operated the modified plant without limiting emissions of sulfur dioxide.
This is the latest in a series of legal actions taken by the Christie Administration and the DEP against out-of-state power plants that cause serious air pollution in New Jersey.
New Jersey has filed a petition with the EPA under Section 126 of the Clean Air Act seeking prompt action by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to force RRI Energy, now operating as GenOn Energy REMA, LLC, to reduce harmful emissions spewing from its Portland, Pa. generating facility and across the Delaware River directly into Warren County.
The State also is a plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to require Greensburg, Pa.-based Allegheny Energy Inc. and its subsidiaries to install pollution-control equipment to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide at three western Pennsylvania power plants, which carry pollutants to the east.
New Jersey already has set state of the art performance standards for mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particles for all of the coal fired power plants operating in our State. The DEP also is taking other steps to cleanup the state’s air, including adoption of rules requiring significant reductions in sulfur content for home heating oil and other types of fuel oil used in the state, and a first-in-the-nation grant program targeting air pollution caused by dry cleaning.
To view a copy of the Homer City Station complaint visit: