Feds file lawsuit against Luminant over two lignite-fired plants

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a sealed enforcement action in U.S. District Court on Aug. 16 against Luminant Generating Co., a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings, for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which first issued a Notice of Violation to Luminant in July 2012. According to EPA, Luminant made unauthorized changes to the Big Brown coal-fired plant in Freestone County and the Martin Lake coal-fired plant in Rusk County without properly controlling SO2 and MOx emissions.

“The Sierra Club applauds the EPA for protecting Texans against Luminant’s toxic pollution when state regulators would not,” said Nia Martin-Robinson with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Texas, in an Aug. 16 statement. “Today’s filing is a sad reminder that Texas families have been breathing air with too much pollution. People living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and in East Texas have suffered from too many bad air days where dangerous levels of pollution can trigger asthma attacks and cause respiratory problems for children and the elderly.”

Luminant on Aug. 16 issued this response to the suit: “In response to the lawsuit filed today by the United States Department of Justice, Luminant will vigorously defend against these claims which we believe are wholly without merit. The EPA alleges that Luminant violated the Clean Air Act by conducting work at two power plants without obtaining preconstruction permits that the EPA says were necessary for the work. Luminant disputes the EPA’s findings of violations and has challenged those determinations in two lawsuits that are currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. We are in the process of evaluating the allegations outlined in the suit, but we firmly believe that we have complied with all requirements of the Clean Air Act for the Big Brown and Martin Lake Power Plants and our other generation facilities.”

Big Brown is an 1,150-MW plant fueled lignite, supplemented by higher-Btu Powder River Basin coal. Unit 1 began operation in 1971 and Unit 2 in 1972.

Martin Lake also burns locally-mined lignite, supplemented by PRB coal. It is a 2,250-MW plant, with Unit 1 beginning operation in 1977, Unit 2 in 1978 and Unit 3 in 1979.

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.