Coal Plant Playing Semantics in Attempt to Skirt the Clean Air Act
September 8, 2008
For two decades, TVAs’ Bull Run Coal Plant in Tennessee has been polluting the air in regions as far away as North Carolina, threatening the health of communities across state lines while also contributing to pollution in the Great Smoky Mountains, already the nations most polluted National Park. In a case filed in U.S District Court in Tennessee, the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations hope to finally put a stop to this unnecessary pollution. The outcome of this case all comes down to the definition of the words “major repairs.” According to the Clean Air Act, coal plants in service before 1977 were not required to install new air pollution controls unless they made major physical changes to the plant which caused emissions to increase. In 1988, TVA replaced two major systems at the Bull Run plant which in turn increased the plants emissions; however, they did not install new pollution controls or obtain new permits that would have limited the plants emissions. While TVA claims that these repairs were “routine maintenance” and therefore do not qualify under the Clean Air Act, attorneys for the environmentalists argue that the repairs happen only once in a plants’ lifetime, making them much more than “routine”, and that TVA should have installed greater pollution controls 20 years ago. If they had done so, the surrounding communities would have been spared from 800,000 tons of unnecessary pollution. The case is now in the hands of Judge Thomas A. Varlan and we are awaiting his decision.
Details and Documents:
Bull Run Case in Court
September 2, 2008 by Larisa Brass, knoxvillebiz.com
Judge to Rule on Bull Run
September 3, 2008 by Carly Harrington, knoxvillebiz.com
See other "Retiring Old Coal" cases.