Court rules TVA must install pollution controls
The Tennessee Valley Authority must install pollution controls at four coal-fired power plants that spit emissions into North Carolina.
A U.S. judge ordered the action in January, siding with the state of North Carolina in its lawsuit against the nation’s largest public utility.
The lawsuit filed in January 2006 by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper argued the TVA was not doing enough to control emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury that drift east into North Carolina’s mountains.
Cooper’s lawsuit asked the court to order the TVA to lower emissions from 11 coal-fired plants in three states to levels that would meet North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act by 2013.
Doing so, the state argued, could reduce premature deaths by 1,400 annually across the region.
The U.S. District Court Judge ordered the four plants closest to North Carolina, three in Tennessee and one in Alabama, to install scrubbers and other controls, as well meet specific emissions caps.
The cost for TVA to make the four plants comply with the ruling is not certain. At trial, experts from both sides pegged the cost of installing the requested pollution controls at all 11 plants between $3 and $5 billion.
Before the trial started, the TVA said it had already spent some $4.8 billion during the past few decades to improve air quality and emissions, with another $1 billion in the works and plans for $3 billion more in the next decade.
The court denied the state’s request to add controls and caps at the seven other plants cited in Cooper’s lawsuit, finding North Carolina failed to prove emissions from those facilities hurt the state’s air quality.
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