Environmental groups sue Ameren over E D Edwards coal emissions

Various environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, filed an April 18 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois against Ameren Energy Resources Co. LLC and one of its subsidiaries.

The complaint cites more than 1,000 alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act from emissions at Ameren’s 650-MW E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant in Bartonville, Ill. Notable is that that this is one of the Illinois coal plants that parent Ameren (NYSE: AEE) has a pending deal to sell to Dynegy (NYSE: DYN).

“Particle pollution can get deep down into lungs and cause respiratory and pulmonary problems, said Andrew Armstrong, an attorney at Environmental Law and Policy Center. “Opacity is one way of measuring particle pollution. Ameren has more than 1,000 opacity violations, indicating that they have poured too much of this dangerous pollution into Central Illinois communities.”

The basis for the alleged Clean Air Act violations is data collected by Ameren at its own facilities using electronic continuous opacity monitoring systems. Ameren reports data from its monitoring systems quarterly to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The environmental groups requested the data from IEPA, which revealed egregious violations of the Clean Air Act by exceeding opacity limits allowed in Ameren’s permit on numerous occasions between 2008 and 2013.

“It should not be a surprise to anyone that the Edwards plant is a pollution problem and Ameren is on the hook to fix it,” said Ann Alexander, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Ameren has dragged their feet on making the necessary improvements for far too long. If they can afford to upgrade their equipment, then they should.  If not, they shouldn’t be operating this plant. And nor should anyone else.”

The lawsuit was announced at an April 18 press conference in Peoria, Ill., by the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance, a community group recently formed in the Peoria metro area due to concerns over local air and water pollution caused by the Edwards coal plant.

Ameren had posted no statement about the lawsuit to its website as of mid-day on April 18 and a spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

A brochure on Ameren’s website about its Illinois plants says: “Ameren Corporation has some of the cleanest coal-fired energy centers in the United States. We help improve the environment by preserving habitat for wildlife, eliminating or reusing byproducts and reducing emissions. This includes a $1 billion investment in environmental upgrades to our coal-fired facilities in Illinois.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.