DEEP: Connecticut, New Jersey Settle Clean Air Lawsuit With Owners of Coal-Burning Generating Plant

May 15, 2013
Connecticut, New Jersey Settle Clean Air Lawsuit With Owners of Coal-Burning Generating Plant

The owners of a Pennsylvania power plant have agreed to stop burning coal in two generating units and to provide $1 million towards environmental mitigation in Connecticut and New Jersey as part of a clean air settlement announced today by Attorney General George Jepsen and Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty.
The terms were outlined in a consent decree filed today in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. It resolves a lawsuit filed by New Jersey and Connecticut seeking to enforce the federal Clean Air Act and reduce air pollution emissions by two coal-fired generating units at the Portland Generating Station in eastern Pennsylvania.
“Geography makes Connecticut and other northeastern states vulnerable to air pollution blown in from other regions,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “We will continue to challenge emissions from pollution sources in other states, to help meet the air quality standards necessary for the health and safety of Connecticut residents.”
Commissioner Esty said, “This is another successful action to prevent other states from benefitting at our expense. For too long, too many states have allowed dirty coal to be burned to produce electricity – giving them lower cost power to benefit their economies while pushing significant air pollution our way.  With the Attorney General, we are – case by case – addressing this issue to level the economic playing field and protect the health of our residents.” 
Among other terms, the settlement requires the plant owners to:

  • Except as essential to maintain reliability of the electric grid, stop burning coal in Units 1 and 2, which have a combined generating capacity of 401 megawatts, by June 1, 2014. Coal burning produces emissions of air pollutants sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.
  • Comply with a final Environmental Protection Agency rule requiring significant reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions from the units to help meet national ambient air quality standards for sulfur dioxide in New Jersey. Meeting those reductions will require the units to install major new pollution controls, switch to natural gas as a fuel or cease operation in January 2015.
  • Pay $1 million into an environmental mitigation fund to be shared by New Jersey and Connecticut.
New Jersey filed the lawsuit in 2007 and Connecticut intervened in 2008. The generating station is owned by GenOn Power Generation, LLC (formed by merger with RRI Energy Power Generation, Inc., which was formerly known as Reliant Energy Power Generation, Inc.), GenOn REMA, LLC (formerly known as RRI Energy Mid-Atlantic Holdings, LLC, and Reliant Energy Mid-Atlantic Holdings, LLC), and Sithe Energies, Inc., now known as Dynegy, Inc.
Assistant Attorneys General Scott Koschwitz and Kimberly Massicotte, Environment department head, handled this matter for the Attorney General with Associate Attorney General Joseph Rubin.
View the consent decree.