coal lawsuit dismissed

A federal judge in Birmingham dismissed a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against Alabama Power for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

The U.S. district judge rejected EPA’s accusations and methods for determining whether power plant maintenance projects required a new clean air permit. It also supported the position that utilities can do routine maintenance and repairs on their coal-fired units without violating EPA’s New Source Review regulations. The judge ruled that EPA’s methodology was not valid and dismissed the case.

The lawsuit was originally filed over eight maintenance projects at four power plants between 1985 and 1997, but five of the claims were dropped in 2010.

In that time, Alabama Power invested nearly $2.6 billion in emission control technology at its coal-fired power plants. Alabama Power maintained that New Source Review permits are required only for construction projects that increase emissions.

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