Eight east coast states, the EPA and several environmental groups have reached a revised agreement with one of the country's largest electricity producers to further reduce acid rain emissions from coal-fired power plants in the Midwest.
American Electric Power has agreed in federal court to stop operating two of its coal burning power plants, or convert them to natural gas operation, by the end of 2015. The revised agreement also will result in substantial reductions in sulfur dioxide across the company’s fleet of plants, according to Vermont Assistant Attorney General Thea Schwartz.
The emissions are a leading cause of acid rain. While pleased with the original 2007 settlement, Adirondack Council Spokesman John Sheehan says these modifications will result in deeper emissions cuts.
Vermont has also seen acid rain damage, particularly the spruce forests on Camels Hump. Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears notes that the increased settlement funds will enhance environmental mitigation projects.
Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth believes that a major catalyst for this settlement and other major emissions reductions has been market changes in the use of natural gas.
American Electric Power asked that the settlement be revised because it wanted to install different and more efficient technology at two power plants. Spokesperson Melissa McHenry says the sulfur dioxide cuts track with what was already planned.
The eight states will receive an additional $6 million in settlement funds.