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U.S. Announces Clean Air Act Settlement with Wisconsin Utility / Agreement will reduce emissions by 15,000 tons annually

Release Date: 01/04/2013
Contact Information: Stacy Kika, Kika.stacy@epa.gov, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement with Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) that requires WPS to invest approximately $300 million in pollution control technology, pay a civil penalty of $1.2 million, and spend $6 million on environmental mitigation projects to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

“EPA is committed to protecting communities from the pollution problems that matter most, including reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The pollution reductions and the significant investment in local environmental projects under this agreement will ensure that the people of Wisconsin and neighboring states have cleaner, healthier air.”


“This settlement will eliminate thousands of tons of harmful air pollution each year, thus improving air quality in Wisconsin and downwind areas,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The agreement, which requires WPS to reduce emissions from both of its coal-fired power plants in Wisconsin, demonstrates the Justice Department’s continuing efforts, along with EPA, to bring large sources of air pollution into compliance with the Clean Air Act.”


The settlement, which covers the utility’s two power plants—the Pulliam plant in Green Bay, Wis. and the Weston plant in Rothschild, Wis.—requires WPS to install new pollution control technology on one of its largest units, to continuously operate the new and existing pollution controls, and to comply with stringent emission rates and annual tonnage limitations. The settlement also requires WPS to permanently retire, refuel or repower four additional coal-fired units at the Pulliam and Weston plants. The actions taken by WPS to comply with this settlement will result in annual reductions in sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter emissions of approximately 15,000 tons from 2010 levels. This settlement covers all eight coal-fired boilers at WPS’s two power plants.

WPS will also spend $6 million on projects that will benefit the environment and human health in communities located near the WPS facilities. WPS must pay $250,000 each to the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, to be used on projects to address the damage done from WPS’s alleged excess air emissions. Up to $4 million will be spent on a renewable energy resource enhancement project, up to $1.2 million on a wood stove change-out project, and up to $300,000 on a community digestor project. The remaining mitigation funding will be spent on either a compressed natural gas or hybrid fleet conversion project, or a solar panel installation project.

Reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including coal-fired power plants, is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013. SO
2 and NOx, two key pollutants emitted from power plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze. These pollutants are converted in the air to fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death. Reducing these harmful air pollutants will benefit the communities located near WPS facilities, particularly communities disproportionately impacted by environmental risks and vulnerable populations, including children. Because air pollution from power plants can travel significant distances downwind, this settlement will also reduce air pollution outside of the immediate region.

This is the 25th judicial settlement secured by the Justice Department and EPA as part of a national enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements. The total combined sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emission reductions secured from these settlements will exceed 2 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.

The settlement was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

More information about the settlement:
http://www.epa.gov/enforcement/air/cases/wps.html

More information about EPA’s enforcement initiative:
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/data/planning/initiatives/2011airpollution.html