St. Louis Judge Holds Fate of Pollution Controls at Two Area Ameren Coal-Fired Power Plants

By on April 22, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  Either Ameren’s failure to install pollution controls on its Rush Island coal-fired power plant near Festus caused the premature death of hundreds of people by releasing 160,000 tons of sulfur dioxide into the air, or the emissions had no measurable health impact and a remedy could cost each Ameren ratepayer at least $1,345.

Those were the two sides presented to U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel in court Monday at the end of the second phase of a lawsuit that was filed more than eight years ago on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sippel is now tasked with fashioning a remedy after ruling in January 2017, at the end of the first phase of the case, that Ameren had violated the Clean Air Act by making major modifications to Rush Island without reporting the work to the EPA and obtaining the proper permits, and without installing the “best-available pollution control technology.” The boiler upgrades were completed in 2007 and 2010.

Since that time, lawyers on both sides have fought over the appropriate fix.

On Monday, Justice Department lawyer James W. Beers Jr. said that Sippel should order Ameren to apply for a permit under the Clean Air Act and install pollution controls that would bring it into compliance in three years.

Each year of delay, Beers said, represents another 16,000 tons of sulfur dioxide released by the plant, adding to the 160,000 pounds released since Ameren’s failure to install pollution control equipment when the plant modifications were made. That pollution, he said, affected most of the eastern seaboard of the U.S. and areas from Texas to Michigan, resulting in between 600 and 880 premature deaths.

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