While the EPA’s proposed rule to limit emissions from power plants has been delayed by the U.S. Supreme Court – which says cost-benefit analyses are needed – individual actions aimed at the same goal are still taking place.

In a settlement announced by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Interstate Power and Light, a subsidiary of Alliant Energy, has agreed to install pollution control technology and meet stringent emission rates to reduce harmful air pollution from the company’s seven coal-fired power plants in Iowa. The settlement also requires the company to spend a total of $6 million on environmental mitigation projects, and pay a civil penalty of $1.1 million to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

The State of Iowa, Linn County, Iowa, and the Sierra Club joined the United States as co-plaintiffs in the case.

Protecting the air near power plants

“To serve the communities in which they operate, power plants must protect clean air for those living nearby,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This case delivers on the goals of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to reduce air pollution from the largest sources. By installing new equipment and funding mitigation projects, Interstate Power and Light can help conserve energy and cut pollution in communities across Iowa.”

Under the settlement, Interstate Power and Light will install and continuously operate new and existing pollution control technology at its two largest plants in Lansing and Ottumwa, and will retire or convert to cleaner-burning natural gas its remaining five plants in Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Dubuque, and Marshalltown. The new, state-of-the-art pollution controls required by the settlement are expected to cost approximately $620 million. EPA estimates that the settlement will reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 32,500 tons per year and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 3,800 tons per year once the settlement is fully implemented.

Choice of five projects

Interstate Power and Light will also be required to spend $6 million on environmental mitigation projects. The company will choose from five potential projects, including solar energy and anaerobic digester installations, replacing coal-fired boilers at schools with lower-emission equipment, an alternative fuel vehicle replacement program, and a program to help residents change out wood burning stoves and fireplaces.

SO2 and NOx, two predominant pollutants emitted from power plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze. These pollutants are converted in the air to particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death.  This settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from large sources of pollution, which includes coal-fired power plants, under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements. The total combined SO2 and NOx emission reductions secured from all these settlements will exceed 2 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.

More on the settlement:

More information about EPA’s enforcement initiative: