EPA Alert: Westar Energy settles $500 million Clean Air Act violations

EPA Alert: Westar Energy settles $500 million Clean Air Act violations


Legal news for Kansas attorneys. The EPA and Westar Energy settle violations, which amounted to $500 million.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alerts- Westar Energy Clean Air Act violations result in a $500 million settlement.

Manhattan, KS—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) http:///www.epa.gov/ and the U.S. Justice Department has settled Clean Air Act violations with Westar Energy, which will require the energy company to spend $500 million to reduce harmful air pollution from a Kansas power plant, pay $3 million in civil penalties, and $6 million in environmental mitigation costs. The settlement agreement was filed in a Kansas federal court, as reported by the EPA.

The February 2009 complaint accused Westar of failing to install required pollution control equipment, and failed to comply with applicable emission limits, when the energy company modified three units at their Jeffrey Energy Center, a coal-fired power plant near St. Marys, Kansas. “This settlement will lower harmful sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by thousands of tons each year, and will benefit air quality in Kansas and downwind areas,” according to a spokesperson for the Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. The terms of the settlement demand that Westar install and operate pollution control equipment at the Jeffery Energy Center, which is believed to reduce combined emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by 78,600 tons each year, 85 percent lower than 2007’s emissions. Westar will also give up surplus sulfur dioxide allowance, which cannot be used again, permanently removing them from the environment. They are also required to rebuild and optimize controls to lower particular matter emissions. The EPA reported the $6 million Westar is required to pay will benefit the environment and mitigate the detrimental effects of the accused violations, which will include:

• Retrofitting diesel engines on vehicles owned by or operated for public entities in Kansas with emission control equipment.
• Installing new wind turbines that will result in the reduction of criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases, and provide electricity for the benefit of a school or nonprofit.
• Installing advanced truck stop electrification to reduce harmful emissions from idling trucks.
• Installing plug-in hybrid infrastructure to facilitate the use of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
• Converting vehicles in Westar’s fleet to reduce pollution by retrofitting diesel vehicles with emission controls and purchasing hybrid vehicle.

Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can cause severe health problems to humans and the environment. After being released into the air from power plants, the gases are converted to fine particles of particulate matter that can get caught deep in the lungs, causing a variety of harmful health impacts including early death.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for Kansas lawyer

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