Administration's Plan to Roll Back Law Would Prevent Additional Settlements, Threaten Public Health, Group Says

Statement by David Mcintosh, NRDC Staff Attorney

WASHINGTON (March 7, 2005) -- The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice today announced a settlement in a Clean Air Act enforcement lawsuit against Illinois Power Co. and Dynegy, Inc. The federal government had brought the lawsuit under the Clean Air Act's new source review regulations, citing excessive, unlawful air pollution at the Baldwin Generating Station in southwestern Illinois. According to the announcement, the companies have agreed to eliminate tens of thousands of tons per year of harmful air pollution at their coal-fired power plants. A government report prepared for the litigation had concluded that air pollution from the Baldwin plant alone had led to approximately 5,700 premature deaths over a 22-year period.

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

"This proves that the government saves lives by enforcing the Clean Air Act, not by wasting resources trying to weaken it. Unfortunately, the Bush administration is trying to eliminate the very part of the Clean Air Act that yielded this victory for public health. If Congress passes the administration's air pollution plan, or if the administration succeeds in weakening the law's new source review rules, settlements like the one reached today would not be possible.

"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 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."