North Carolina's attorney general said Monday he will take the Tennessee Valley Authority to court unless it reduces pollutants that waft into the state from the public utility's coal-fired power plants.
RALEIGH, N.C. − North Carolina's attorney general said Monday he will take the Tennessee Valley Authority to court unless it reduces pollutants that waft into the state from the public utility's coal-fired power plants.
"It is critical that we all do what we can to make sure that our air is clean," Attorney General Roy Cooper told The Associated Press. "What we've done now is put the TVA on notice that they need to do the same thing."
Cooper notified the TVA last week that he will sue in federal court if the utility does not agree to significantly reduce the pollution coming from nine of its coal-fired plants in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.
"People all over the state are hurt," Cooper said.
In addition to health issues, Cooper said the pollution affects the view in the mountains, where tourism is a $12 billion-a-year industry.
TVA environmental chief John Shipp said North Carolina's own plant emissions have increased at a time when TVA has spent billions of dollars to drastically reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.
Cooper spokeswoman Noelle Talley said her office's data showed that emissions from North Carolina plants had not increased.
Cooper alleges that TVA violated the federal Clean Air Act by modifying several of its coal-fired power plants without determining whether additional emission controls are necessary or installing the best available technology to control dirty air.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been trying since 1999 to require TVA to meet tougher emission standards on nine of its 11 plants. The EPA contends the plants, many built in the 1950s, were so extensively modified between 1982 and 1996 that they should be treated as new.
Cooper said he hoped to avoid a court fight: "We hope what will happen is that we sit down with the TVA and talk about ways they can come into compliance."
TVA serves 8.5 million people in Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia.
Environmental groups praised Cooper's move.
"We are glad North Carolina is stepping forward to clean up power plant pollution at a time when we can't rely on Washington to do so," said Nat Mund, the Sierra Club's Washington, D.C-based clean air expert.
Source: Associated Press