Clean Air Act settlement benefits DNR

SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is a beneficiary in a settlement announced by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Illinois.

The Clean Air Act case alleged Illinois Power Co. and its successor, Dynegy Midwest Generation, violated the new provisions of the act at the Baldwin Power Station in Baldwin. Illinois Power now will spend $500 million to reduce air pollution by more than 54,000 tons per year.

In addition, Dynegy Midwest Generation will pay a $9 million civil penalty and spend $15 million in projects to mitigate the harm caused by the unlawful emissions.

This settlement marks the largest civil penalty involving a power plant emissions case to date.

The Illinois DNR benefits from terms of the settlement. The $15 million in mitigation projects will finance efforts at enhanced mercury reduction, acquisition and preservation of ecologically valuable lands and habitat in the St. Louis Metro East area. It also will lead to improvements along the Illinois River.

Additionally benefiting DNR, Dynegy Midwest Generation will transfer ownership of a parcel of 1,135 acres of land along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River in Vermilion County to the Illinois DNR.

The settlement also provides $2.7 million to promote high-quality nature reserve areas in the Metro East area near St. Louis.

“The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is entrusted to protect and sustain Illinois Natural Resources,” said DNR Director Joel Brunsvold. “This settlement helps us accomplish that mission.”

The agreement reduces emissions of harmful sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from Illinois coal-fired power plants by 54,000 tons each year through the installation of approximately $500 million worth of new pollution control equipment.

Plants involved in the settlement are Baldwin Generating Station in Baldwin, Havana Generating Station in Havana, Hennepin Generating Station in Hennepin, Vermilion Generating Station in Oakwood and Wood River Generation Station in Alton.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in 1999 as part of a federal initiative to bring operators of coal-fired power plants into full compliance with the New Source Review Provisions of the Clean Air Act.

In 1999, the Baldwin Station was one of the largest sources of air pollution in the nation.

The settlement is contained in a consent decree lodged for public comment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in East St. Louis. The federal and state governmental parties were joined in the case by a coalition of citizen groups: The American Bottom Conservancy; Health and Environmental Justice-St. Louis; Illinois Stewardship Alliance; and the Prairie Rivers Network

“This important settlement has the potential to improve air quality in Illinois from the Metro East area to the Chicagoland area,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. “Additionally, the innovative projects included in the agreement will improve our state’s environment and enhance its natural heritage.”

This is the eighth in a series of agreements with power plant operators, all of which are focused on securing major reductions in air pollution from coal-fired power plants, which collectively account for 70 percent of SO2 and 30 percent of NOx emissions from all stationary sources in the nation.

The combined effect of these eight settlements will be to reduce emissions of harmful pollutants by more than 714,000 tons each year, 486,000 tons of SO2 and 229,000 tons of NOx through the installation and operation of more than $4.4 billion worth of pollution controls.

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