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Polluters Continue to Lobby Feds to Drop Remaining Clean Air Act Enforcement Cases

Statement by David McIntosh, NRDC Staff Attorney

WASHINGTON (March 18, 2005) -- The attorneys general of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, along with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice, today announced a settlement in their Clean Air Act enforcement lawsuit against First Energy Corp. and its subsidiary, Ohio Edison Co. The New York attorney general's office launched the lawsuit in 1999 under the Clean Air Act's new source review regulations, citing excessive, unlawful air pollution at the W.H. Sammis coal-fired power plant in eastern Ohio. According to the announcement, the companies have agreed to eliminate 212,500 tons per year of harmful air pollution at their coal-fired power plants. That brings the total pollution reductions achieved by new source review settlements to more than 1 million tons per year.

Below is a statement by David McIntosh, an NRDC staff attorney:

"We would not have seen cuts in asthma-inducing smog and deadly soot on this scale if New York had not filed this suit, or if the states and the federal government had not continued to pursue it. At every turn, Bush administration political appointees have tried to undermine these law enforcement cases and let corporate polluters off the hook, but state attorneys general and public health advocates, thankfully, have been able to block their efforts. Today's victory, which will clean up more than 200,000 tons of pollution every year, is, in part, the result of that vigilance.

"The Justice Department's top environmental official recently complained that he doesn't have the resources to file any of the additional 22 new source review enforcement cases referred to it by the EPA. This settlement, and the one reached with Illinois Power and Dynegy earlier this month, will free up significant resources that the Justice Department should devote to filing new enforcement cases. EPA itself has found that taking legal action against the remaining violators would lead to millions of tons of pollution reductions every year."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 1 million members and online activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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