October 15, 2007
In what amounts to the largest environmental settlement in history, U.S. energy giant American Electric Power agreed last week to pay $4.6 billion for installation of long-overdue pollution controls at 16 of its coal-fired power plants across the country. Under the terms of the landmark settlement, the new pollution controls will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide by 79 percent and nitrogen oxides by 69 percent at AEP's dirtiest facilities.
The settlement comes as a result of a lawsuit first filed in 1999 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Sierra Club alleging that the company violated Clean Air Act rules when it increased smog and soot pollution at coal-fired power plants in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia without installing the pollution controls mandated by federal law. The company, which runs 25 coal-fired electricity plants across the country and is the nation's number one industrial emitter of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution, also agreed to pay an additional $15 million civil penalty and put $60 million toward projects to mitigate the...