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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department on January 13 announced a global Clean Air Act settlement with Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) that will cover all of NIPSCO’s coal-fired power plants, located in Chesterton, Michigan City, Wheatfield and Gary, Ind. NIPSCO has agreed to invest approximately $600 million in pollution control technology that will protect public health and resolve violations of the Clean Air Act.
The settlement 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 in the development of this settlement and is a signatory.
“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.”
“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 change.”
Under the 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 oxides (NOx) emissions by 18,000 tons and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 46,000 tons in addition to significant reductions of particulate matter emissions. The 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 settlement also calls for NIPSCO to spend $9.5 million on projects that will benefit the environment and human health in communities located near the NIPSCO facilities. The projects include a clean diesel retrofit project for public vehicles, woodstove and outdoor boiler change-out projects and land restoration projects 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. Considering that air pollution from power plants can drift significant distances downwind, this settlement will reduce air pollution outside the immediate region.
The settlement was lodged January 13 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.
More information: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/nipsco.html