Since we filed notice of our intent to sue this summer, the Obama Administration and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan brought suit on their own against these plants.
Now we are seeking to intervene in the governments' action to help them secure the best possible outcome for public health:
Health and Environment Groups Intervene in Federal Pollution Case Against Coal Plant OperatorEND OF UPDATE
CHICAGO (October 12, 2009) — A coalition of health and environmental groups have rejoined the fight over illegal air pollution from a fleet of six aging coal plants owned and operated by Midwest Generation, LLC in Illinois. The coalition had signaled their intent to sue the company for violating the Clean Air Act this summer before the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), US Department of20Justice (DOJ), and Illinois Attorney General stepped in and filed suit last month. The government suit supersedes the suit that the coalition had initiated, so the groups are moving to intervene in support of the new case.
The coalition members, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment (C.A.R.E.), The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago and Sierra Club, filed a motion to join the suit relating to issues of opacity violations. Opacity is a measurement of the amount of light blocked by particulate matter coming from smokestacks. Particulate matter is fine dust and soot that stays close to the plant and concentrates negative air quality and health effects in nearby communities leading to respiratory illnesses and premature deaths. The USEPA has cited Midwest Generation’s coal plants for numerous air pollution-related violations..
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have found that the Fisk and Crawford plants in Chicago are responsible for 41 premature deaths, 550 emergency room visits and 2800 asthma attacks annually. Midwest Generation owns coal plants in Chicago, Waukegan, Joliet, Romeoville and Pekin, Illinois.
Midwest Generation’s own reports document that all of the company’s coal plants regularly violate opacity regulations. The coalition has chosen to support the government suit in the hope for quick relief in court that will force Midwest Generation to clean up or close these facilities.
“Midwest Generation’s coal plants have been polluting our communities and blocking our path to a clean energy economy for too long,” said James Gignac, Midwest Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “It’s time for them to pay the piper, and we want to make sure the government acts swiftly to enforce the law and hold Midwest Generation accountable.”
Today Sierra Club and our allies notified Midwest Generation of our intent to sue them over a long pattern of violations at their plants in Chicago, Joliet, and near Peoria.
Because they are very old, these plants do not have to operate as cleanly as a new coal plant would. Today we are charging that they repeatedly failed to meet even the lesser standard. Pollution from coal plants in our region has been linked to 311 premature deaths, 4100 emergency room visits, and 21,500 asthma attacks per year.
The people who live near these smokestacks, and indeed our entire region, deserve better.
From our press release:
A coalition of Illinois health and environmental groups notified Midwest Generation, LLC of their intent to sue the company because its coal plants release illegally high amounts of particulate matter that leads to respiratory illnesses and premature deaths in nearby communities. The suit follows a number of air pollution-related citations from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against Midwest Generation’s coal plants in the state, particularly the Fisk and Crawford Generating Stations located within the Chicago city limits.
The coalition members, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, The Environmental Law and Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), The Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago and Sierra Club, filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue today, the first step in a Clean Air Act citizen suit. This action brings a new legal development in an ongoing campaign by environmental, health and community groups representing the communities in which the coal plants are located. All of the plants are located in working class and/or minority neighborhoods.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have found that pollution from 9 coal plants in northern Illinois causes 311 premature deaths, 4100 emergency room visits, and 21,500 asthma attacks annually. Midwest Generation owns coal plants in Chicago, Waukegan, Joliet, Romeoville and Pekin, Illinois.
The potential lawsuit focuses on the coal plants’ opacity violations. Opacity is a measurement of the amount of light blocked by particulate matter coming from smokestacks. Particulate matter is fine dust and soot that stays close to the plant and concentrates negative air quality and health effects in nearby communities. EPA issued a notice of violation to Midwest Generation in August 2007 but has failed to take meaningful action to force clean ups at the plants and has allowed the plants to continue violating the law for the past two years.
Because of their age, Midwest Generation’s coal plants are subject to more lenient opacity regulations than more modern plants. But Midwest’s Generation’s own reports document that all of the company’s coal plants regularly violate even these relaxed opacity regulations. Installing modern pollution controls could greatly reduce particulate matter from these plants.