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$4.6 Billion – Air Pollution Doesn’t Pay (Anymore) for OH Power Plants

October 9, 2007

Columbus, OH – More than $4 billion is expected to bring a breath of fresh air to Ohio, and at least 12 other states. The U.S. Justice Department has just reached a record agreement to end a long-running lawsuit over air pollution from coal-fired power plants. It means plants in the Ohio River Valley and four other states, all owned by American Electric Power, must install new equipment to filter dangerous pollution and improve air quality.

The suit, originally filed eight years ago, has a list of plaintiffs that include eight Northeastern states, the federal government, and a dozen conservation groups. David Willett, national press officer for the Sierra Club, says now, it's time to focus on cleaner ways to meet the nation's energy needs…

"What we really need is to look to alternatives to coal. We need power generated in ways that not only reduce smog and acid rain, but will also address global warming."

The lawsuit charged that the power company had "illegally released massive amounts of air pollutants for years," causing acid rain, soot and smog, and violating the federal Clean Air Act. Willett says as soon as pollution control equipment is put in place, the environment can start to recover.

"As soon as you stop polluting the air, the earth can begin to heal itself. By taking action now, we can make sure that we have cleaner air in the future."

The settlement, which also includes $15 million in fines and $60 million for cleanup efforts, is the largest ever for an environmental lawsuit. More details will be announced later today.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OH