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Huge US coal-fired power generator AEP pays $US4.6 billion to reduce emissions, clean up environment

Posted by gmarkets on 11 October, 2007

One of the United States’ largest power generators had agreed to end a years-long federal lawsuit by paying $US4.6 billion to reduce pollution that had eaten away at north-east mountain ranges and national landmarks, wrote Lara Jakes Jordan in The Australian Financial Review (10/10/2007, p.19).

Reduce chemical emissions, clean up: The settlement required American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, to reduce chemical emissions that caused acid rain by at least 69 per cent over the next decade. It also fined AEP $US15 million in civil penalties and another $US60 million in clean-up and mitigation costs to help heal parkland and waterways that had been hurt by the pollution. Details of the agreement were provided by two people familiar with its terms, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it had not been filed in federal court.

Pollution controls not installed: The settlement marked one of the largest US government fines in an environmental case. (Exxon Mobil estimated it had paid $US3.5 billion in clean-up costs, government settlements, fines and compensation for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The company was fighting an additional $US2.5 billion in punitive fines.) Nine states, a dozen environmental groups and the Environmental Protection Agency brought the lawsuit against AEP in 1999, accusing the energy company of rebuilding coal-fired power plants without installing pollution controls as required under the Clean Air Act.

Irreparable damage from acid rain: Increased acid rain problems in the north-east over the last quarter-century had been linked to sulphates and nitrates, which were products of coal-fired power plants. Landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Adirondacks mountain range in upstate New York had been irreparably damaged by acid rain, environmentalists said.

The Australian Financial Review, 10/10/2007, p. 19


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