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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information:
June 5, 2006

Office of The Attorney General
- Zulima V. Farber, Attorney General
Division of Law
- Nancy Kaplen, Acting Director

 

Peter Aseltine
609-292-4791

 

Judge Says New Jersey’s Suit Against Allegheny Energy
Over Pennsylvania Power Plants Will Go Forward

Five States Filed Suit to Enforce Clean Air Act, Seek Reductions
in Harmful Emissions

TRENTON – Attorney General Zulima V. Farber today hailed a federal judge’s decision denying an attempt by Allegheny Energy Inc. to dismiss a suit filed last year by New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland over violations of the federal Clean Air Act at three of the company’s coal-fired power plants in western Pennsylvania.

The five states filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Allegheny Energy Inc., based in Greensburg, Pa., and a number of its subsidiaries. The suit alleges that Allegheny made major upgrades at its Armstrong, Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell plants that significantly increased emissions, without installing new pollution controls required by the Clean Air Act. As a result, the plants have continued to emit thousands of tons more pollution each year, including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which blow into New Jersey and cause smog, acid rain and respiratory disease.

On May 30, the court adopted the recommendation of a U.S. magistrate judge by rejecting Allegheny’s attempt to dismiss the states’ claims as time-barred or barred based on other technicalities.

“New Jersey will continue to vigorously pursue litigation to protect our citizens’ health and meet clean air quality standards,” Governor Jon S. Corzine said. “This decision proves that New Jersey can and will pursue action to enforce the Clean Air Act’s protections even when the federal government abdicates its own responsibility to do so.”

“We are pleased that the court has cleared the way for us to move forward with our suit,” said Attorney General Farber. “We are seeking to compel Allegheny Energy to install the pollution controls mandated by the Clean Air Act so that we can eliminate thousands of tons of toxic pollutants that are blowing into New Jersey. The Hatfield’s Ferry plant is among the worst coal-fired power plants in terms of its harm to public health and the environment in New Jersey.”

“New Jersey has actively pursued clean air for its residents, including enforcement actions to require the state's major power plants to meet clean air standards,” said DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson. “We expect power plants outside of New Jersey to do the same.”

The three plants at issue in this litigation emit in total hundreds of thousands of tons of pollutants a year. The three plants put out more nitrogen oxide emissions than all the power plants in New Jersey combined and more than three times the total amount of sulfur dioxide emissions emitted by all New Jersey power plants. The Hatfield’s Ferry plant is the fifth largest single source of sulfur dioxide emissions in the country.

In addition to the federal violations, the suit alleges violations of Pennsylvania’s air pollution laws and regulations. New Jersey and its co-plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief to require Allegheny to reduce its harmful emissions by installing state-of-the-art pollution controls at each of the three plants. The states also asked the court to assess civil monetary penalties and order Allegheny to take additional appropriate actions to make up for the harm done to public health and the environment by its violations of federal and state law.

The suit is being handled for New Jersey by Deputy Attorney General Kevin Auerbacher, Section Chief for Environmental Enforcement, and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Morelli.

The following chart outlines emissions from the three coal-fired plants:

Power Plant   PA County   SO2 Emissions
(2004, Tons Per Year)
  NOx Emissions
(2004, Tons Per Year)
Armstrong   Armstrong   32,945 tons   3,931 tons
Hatfield’s Ferry   Greene   148,459 tons   19,199 tons
Mitchell   Washington   1,266 tons  

1,857 ton

The subsidiaries named as defendants in the lawsuit are Allegheny Energy Service Corporation, Allegheny Energy Supply Company LLC, Monongahela Power Company, The Potomac Edison Company and West Penn Power Company.

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