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US power company forced to cut nasty gasses

matter-logo-2.jpgOur pals at the Matter Network sent us this today:

Living up to its marketing line of “A Century of Firsts,” American Electric Power will pay the largest fine to the U.S. EPA in history. The company will implement changes to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide at a cost of $4.6 billion, will pay a $15 million penalty, and spend $60 million on projects to mitigate the adverse effects of its past excess emissions.

According to the EPA, “This is the single largest environmental enforcement settlement in history by several measures. For example, it is the largest settlement in terms of the value of injunctive relief, and will result in the largest amount of emission reduction from stationary sources, such as power plants and factories.”

The power company settled after eight-year legal battle over violations of the Clean Air Act that was joined by several states and environmental groups. Even though AEP agreed to pay a civil penalty of $15, the company admits no violations as part of the agreement. Per a company press release, AEP “agreed to annual sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions limits for its fleet of 16 coal-fueled power plants in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.”

By installing these pollution control measures, the plants will emit 79 percent less sulfur dioxide and 69 percent less nitrogen oxides, as compared to 2006 emissions.

The EPA recognizes that cleaner air can pay for itself in health benefits alone. According to the organization, the emissions reductions “will save $32 billion in health costs per year for Americans….Less air pollution from power plants means fewer cases of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.”

Despite the large payout, AEP says its earning estimates for the year remains unchanged. American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states.

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