Ameren Missouri’s coal-fired Rush Island power plant faces EPA lawsuit

By Dorothy Davis

In a lawsuit filed with the Justice Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accused Ameren Missouri of violating the Clean Air Act at its 1,224 megawatt (MW) coal-fired Rush Island power plant.

According to the filing, EPA claims Ameren Missouri finished recent maintenance work at its Rush Island plant without obtaining proper permits or installing newly required operational enhancements to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.

Ameren Missouri responded to the lawsuit in a release which outlined the company’s firm commitment to environmental standards and stating that recent work completed at the coal-fired facility would be categorized as routine maintenance and therefore exempt from the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the federal Clean Air Act.

NSR requires electric utilities to undergo pre-construction review for environmental controls if the utilities propose to build new generating units or modify existing units in a manner that would result in a significant increase in emissions.

Warner L. Baxter, president and chief executive officer of Ameren Missouri stated in the release, "Many of the cited projects were actually undertaken by Ameren Missouri to expand our efforts to reduce emissions. We have cut emissions at every plant, significantly improving air quality in the region. We are disappointed that the USEPA has decided to take this action."

"We have a commitment to supply affordable, safe, reliable energy to our customers and to plan for the growth of future demand," said Mark Birk, vice president, Power Operations, Ameren Missouri. "Clearly this becomes very difficult when onerous regulation and lawsuits, like this one, make existing generation much more expensive to operate and create greater uncertainty in planning for our customers' energy needs in the future."

Ameren Missouri serves 1.2 million electric and 126,000 natural gas customers in Missouri. Ameren Missouri is the largest electric utility in the state and part of the Ameren Corporation, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.

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