Utilities Lobby for Relief from Clean-Air Lawsuits
Utility companies were close to conceding defeat late last week in their
effort to get an amendment attached to a congressional spending bill that
would absolve them of prosecution under the clean-air lawsuits bought by
the Justice Department on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) earlier this month (See NGI, Nov. 8).
"The prospects for this happening are not good. These lawsuits
were announced on Nov. 3rd. I think the odds against this [amendment] getting
folded into a spending bill were not good from the beginning," said
Jim Owen, spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), which represents
Both Attorney General Janet Reno and EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner
urged Capitol Hill lawmakers last week not to approve legislative language
that would "effectively immunize these [utility] companies from continuing
responsibility for their unlawful conduct and authorize additional violations
in the future."
On Nov. 3, Justice brought lawsuits citing 17 coal-fired plants at seven
utilities --- American Electric Power, Cinergy, FirstEnergy, Illinois Power,
Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co., Southern Co. and Tampa Electric
Co. Also, an administrative complaint was filed against the Tennessee Valley
Authority (TVA) for pollution-control violations at seven of its power
plants, and notices of violations were issued to eight other coal-fired
The coal-fired facilities, which were grandfathered under the Clean
Air Act (CAA), were accused of violating the act by making major modifications
to their plants without installing the appropriate pollution-control technology.
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