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Source: Albany Times Union

Taking aim at acid rain

New attorney general's first lawsuit targets Pennsylvania power site


Posted: January 7, 2011
Originally Published: January 7, 2011

ALBANY -- The first lawsuit announced by new Attorney General Eric Schneiderman targets a Pennsylvania coal-fired power plant that is New York's largest outside source of acid rain-causing pollution.

The lawsuit again the Homer City Station, located in Indiana County about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, accuses the plant of multiple violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

According to the lawsuit, the 42-year-old plant each year releases more than 100,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, a gas that causes acid rain, which has damaged forests in the Adirondacks, Catskills and elsewhere.

"The owners of this power plant have repeatedly thumbed their noses at clean air laws, while dumping more than double the sulfur dioxide pollution into our air and lungs as all of the power plants operating in New York combined," Schneiderman said Thursday. "Their disregard for New Yorkers is simply unconscionable."

The lawsuit claims that plant owners ignored Clean Air Act rules to require modern pollution controls when the plant was expanded in the 1990s, which caused increased pollution levels. The lawsuit asks that the owners be forced to install those controls.

New York was joined in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Also named are two companies that owned the plant when, or since, it was modified and increased air pollution, including Pennsylvania Electric Company and New York State Electric & Gas Corporation.

Several environmental groups supported the action, including Audubon New York, American Lung Association, Adirondack Mountain Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

"Acid rain from air pollution has plagued the forests, waterways and other important bird habitats of New York State for far too long, and the attorney general's action sends a strong signal to other power plants in the region that violations of clean air laws will not be tolerated, said Albert Caccese, executive director of Audubon New York.

Reach Brian Nearing at 454-5094 or bnearing@timesunion.com.

Information about the Homer City plant can be found online at http://www.edison.com/files/2005_factsheet_homercity.pdf