U.S. Announces Clean Air Act Settlement to Protect Public Health in Indiana

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–January 13, 2011. Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) has signed a settlement agreement in which it has agreed to invest approximately $600 million in pollution control technology to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act, the Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.  The proposed settlement covers all of NIPSCO’s coal fired power plants, located in Chesterton, Michigan City, Wheatfield and Gary, Ind.   It will require that NIPSCO spend $9.5 million on environmental mitigation projects and pay a civil penalty of $3.5 million.   The state of Indiana has been involved with developing this settlement and is a signatory.

“This settlement will bring substantial reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and carbon dioxide emissions that will benefit the health and environment of residents across Indiana and the surrounding area,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.  “Under the settlement, NIPSCO will achieve compliance with the Clean Air Act and reduce emissions from its entire coal-fired power plant system.   This marks another positive step in our efforts, alongside EPA, to target large sources of air pollution and to bring about system and region-wide improvements to the environment.”

“The pollution reductions achieved in this settlement will ensure that the people of Indiana and neighboring states have cleaner, healthier air to breathe,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.   “EPA is committed to advancing its national enforcement initiative to reduce air pollution from the largest sources of emissions.”

The proposed settlement was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

Under the proposed settlement, NIPSCO will install pollution control technology at three of its four coal-fired power plants to comply with stringent emission rates and annual tonnage limitations.   These actions will result in annual reductions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 18,000 tons and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 46,000 tons.    The proposed settlement will also result in significant reductions of particulate matter emissions.   The proposed settlement also requires NIPSCO to permanently retire its fourth facility, the Dean H. Mitchell facility in Gary, Ind.   The facility has been out of operation since 2002 and its permanent retirement will ensure that the facility does not restart without proper permitting under the Clean Air Act.

“The residents of northwest Indiana who are all too familiar with air pollution issues will benefit from this reasonable agreement that will improve air quality and fund local environmental projects including restoration near the Indiana Dunes, a unique area of remarkable ecological diversity. My office and our state and federal colleagues have worked diligently to ensure that the laws are enforced fairly and the public is protected,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, whose office represented the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) in the settlement negotiations.

The proposed settlement also requires NIPSCO to spend $9.5 million on projects that will benefit the environment and human health in communities located near the NIPSCO facilities.   These projects include a clean diesel retrofit project for public vehicles, a woodstove and outdoor boiler change-out project and a land restoration project to restore lands adjacent to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including coal-fired power plants, is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013.   SO2 and NOx, two key pollutants emitted from power plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze.   These pollutants are converted in the air to fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death.  Reducing these harmful air pollutants will benefit the communities located near NIPSCO facilities, particularly, communities disproportionately impacted by environmental risks and vulnerable populations, including children.   In addition, air pollution from power plants can drift significant distances downwind, thereby affecting not only local communities, but also populations in a much broader area.

More information: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/nipsco.html

Source: justice.gov