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Record Enviro Award: Coal-fired Power Plants Will Get Good “Scrubbing”

October 9, 2007

Washington, DC – It's a major environmental victory in a landmark case. On Monday, Ohio-based American Electric Power agreed to pay $4.6 billion to clean up the emissions from its coal-burning power plants in five states. That means serious relief from pollutants that have created acid rain and smog problems, in New Hampshire and throughout the northeast. Parties to the lawsuit against the company included New Hampshire, seven other Northeast states, and a dozen conservation groups, such as the Sierra Club and New Hampshire Audubon Society.

They agreed to the record settlement yesterday, in a case filed eight years ago on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Janet Reno, when she was U.S. Attorney General. Sierra Club National Press Officer David Willett says the decision has been a long time coming.

"This is a huge victory for clean air. It's good news for anyone who breathes in the east and Northeast, because there will be significant reductions in the pollution that causes smog and acid rain."

The settlement requires the power company to spend billions of dollars on scrubbers and other technology to reduce pollutants emitted by its facilities. The judgment also includes $60 million to repair pollution-related damage to several national parks and landmarks. Willett says as soon as the scrubbers are in place, the environment can start to recover.

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

While the settlement is the largest ever reached in an environmental lawsuit, Willett says the Sierra Club's broader goal is promoting non-polluting, alternative energy systems. The state plaintiffs in the suit were, in alphabetical order: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

John Robinson, Public News Service - NH