Air pollution settlement expected to make Maryland's air cleaner

BALTIMORE - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced Monday that Maryland, joined by seven other states, has reached an $8.5 million settlement with Ohio-based American Electric Power (AEP) on an issue of air quality.

Gansler said as a part of the settlement, AEP has agreed to reduce air pollution emissions to downwind states from its coal-fired electric power plants.

"With this agreement, we've accelerated a timetable that will help make Maryland's air cleaner for decades to come," said Attorney General Gansler. "Marylanders have been subjected to harmful emissions from out-of-state power plants for far too long. The 2007 agreement was historic in its size and scope and we just made it even better for the citizens of Maryland and the entire Mid-Atlantic region."

According to complaints filed against AEP in 1999 and 2004, AEP violated the Clean Air Act by undertaking modifications without obtaining required permits or installing modern pollution controls. Gansler says the case with AEP is the largest and most comprehensive NSR enforcement case to have been brought and settled nationwide.

Under the terms of the consent decree filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, AEP and its subsidiaries must meet more stringent emissions reductions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) at its plants east of the Mississippi River. By 2029, AEP will also reduce its total SO2 emissions by approximately 90 percent from its baseline emissions before the original 2007 settlement. This will have the effect of reducing annual SO2 emissions by an amount equal to the SO2 released from 28 million homes that burn home heating oil in cold-weather areas such as New England.

AEP is also expected fund environmental mitigation programs designated by the Attorney General of up to $714,000. Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont will share a total of $6 million. An additional $2.5 million in mitigation funds will go to citizen groups in Indiana for local environmental mitigation projects.

An eight-state coalition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and numerous citizens' groups jointly negotiated the revised consent decree that enhances a 2007 air pollution settlement with AEP.

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