Environmental Enforcement: Indiana Utility Settles Clean Air Claims for $600 Million
Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) has agreed to invest approximately $600 million in pollution control technology to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act, according to the Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The proposed settlement (pdf) covers all of NIPSCO’s coal-fired power plants, which are located in Chesterton, Michigan City, Wheatfield, and Gary, Indiana. NIPSCO will spend $9.5 million on environmental mitigation projects and pay a civil penalty of $3.5 million. The state of Indiana has been involved in the settlement, and will receive a share of the penalties paid by the company.
EPA’s complaint (pdf) alleged that NIPSCO modified a number of its coal-fired power units without first complying with Clean Air Act (CAA) pre-construction requirements that include obtaining pre-construction permits and installing and operating state-of-the-art pollution control technology.
“This settlement will bring substantial reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide emissions that will benefit the health and environment of residents across Indiana and the surrounding area,” Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice said in a statement.
The proposed settlement was lodged Jan. 13 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana and is subject to a 30-day public comment period prior to final court approval.
Under the proposed settlement, NIPSCO will install pollution control technology at three of its four coal-fired power plants to comply with stringent emission rates and annual tonnage limitations. These actions will result in estimated annual reductions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 18,000 tons and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 46,000 tons, the EPA said. The proposed settlement also will lower particulate matter emissions, the EPA added. NIPSCO will permanently retire its fourth facility, the Dean H. Mitchell facility in Gary, Ind., which has been out of operation since 2002.
NIPSCO will spend $9.5 million to fund local environmental projects, such as a clean diesel retrofit project for public vehicles and a wood stove and outdoor boiler change-out project. The company may also use part of the mitigation funds to submit a plan for a hybrid or electric fleet project to reduce emissions from its fleet of motor vehicles; create one or more charging stations for electric vehicles in Northwest Indiana; pay for the removal and replacement of electric resistance furnaces and water heaters and replace them with natural gas-fired units; and to restore lands adjacent to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
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