EPA settles with TVA for alleged violations

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Published: April 15,2011

Tags: coal, electricity, energy, environment, lawsuit, settlement, utilities

NORTH MISSISSIPPI — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations at 11 of its coal-fired plants in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The settlement will require TVA to invest a TVA estimated $3 to $5 billion on new and upgraded state-of-the-art pollution controls that will prevent approximately 1,200 to 3,000 premature deaths, 2,000 heart attacks and 21,000 cases of asthma attacks each year, resulting in up to $27 billion in annual health benefits, according to the EPA. TVA will also invest $350 million on clean energy projects that will reduce pollution, save energy and protect public health and the environment.

Once fully implemented, the EPA says the pollution controls and other required actions will address 92 percent of TVA’s coal-fired power plant capacity, reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 69 percent and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 67 percent from TVA’s 2008 emissions levels. The settlement will also significantly reduce particulate matter and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Uncontrolled releases of harmful air pollution like sulfur dioxide from power plants can affect breathing and aggravate respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, especially in sensitive populations like children and the elderly.

Communities near TVA’s facilities will directly benefit from $350 million in environmental projects designed to reduce harmful air pollution and promote energy efficiency. These investments will advance environmental justice by reducing pollution in overburdened communities and reducing energy costs for low-income communities. TVA is required to spend $240 million on energy efficiency initiatives including a Smart Energy Communities project that will focus on energy efficiency in low-income communities. TVA will retrofit low-income housing with the most cost-effective energy efficiency technologies — reducing air pollution, energy use and saving residents money. TVA will also spend $40 million to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through renewable projects such as hybrid electric charging stations and $8 million for a clean diesel and electric vehicle project for public transportation systems.

TVA will also provide $1 million to the National Park Service and the National Forest Service to improve, protect, or rehabilitate forest and park lands that have been impacted by emissions from TVA’s plants, including Mammoth Cave National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The settlement also requires TVA to pay a civil penalty of $10 million, with Alabama and Kentucky receiving $500,000 each and Tennessee receiving $1 million. The states of Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, and three non-governmental organizations, the National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, and Our Children’s Earth Foundation, have been involved in development of this settlement and are signatories to a companion consent decree that will be lodged in federal district court in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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