N.J. Governor Joining Legal Action against Pennsylvania Power Plant

New Jersey has taken legal action against another out-of-state coal-fired power plant that is spewing pollutants into the air and impacting the state.

New Jersey is seeking to join New York, Pennsylvania, and the U.S. government in a lawsuit against Homer City Station, a 1,884-megawatt power plant in western Pennsylvania that is one of the most polluting power plants in the nation, according to a state press release. The facility emits more than 100,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) annually, which leads to the creation of fine particulate matter, which is carried eastward by prevailing winds toward New Jersey, and contributes to acid rain.

The state's legal action alleges that current and past owners of the Homer City Station violated provisions of the federal Clean Air Act by failing to install required state-of-the-art pollution controls when the plant underwent major modifications in the 1990s.

"The Christie Administration has made it clear that reducing air pollution in our state is a priority environmental issue, and that includes dealing with out-of-state sources of air pollution,'' said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. "Air pollution certainly does not stop at state boundaries. Even though this power plant is hundreds of miles away, emissions are affecting public health and environment right here in our state. That is unacceptable.''

The Homer City generating station, currently operated by EME Homer City Generation LP, is a large coal-fired power plant, with a 1,217-foot-high smokestack, located 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, in Indiana County. It consists of three units. Units 1 and 2 began operating in 1969, and Unit 3 started up in 1977. Based on 2009 data, the Homer City plant emitted 101,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, which is transported to downwind states, including New Jersey.

New Jersey is seeking an injunction prohibiting further operation of the plant except in accordance with the Clean Air Act; civil penalties for past and ongoing violations of federal law; and mitigation of harm caused by defendants' illegal emissions.

Defendants in New Jersey's legal action are the current owner of the Homer City plant, which is a consortium of eight limited liability companies, and its operator, EME Homer City Generation LP. The plant's past owners include Pennsylvania Electric Co., and New York State Electric & Gas Corp. New Jersey alleges that PenElec and NYSEG modified the plant in the 1990s without obtaining required pre-construction permits or installing necessary pollution controls, and that all defendants named in the case subsequently operated the modified plant without limiting emissions of sulfur dioxide.

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