Lawsuit Filed to Force Georgia Power to Comply with Emissions Standards

Press Room

(Atlanta, Georgia, April 6, 2007) Today, GreenLaw [formerly the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest] filed a lawsuit in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Sierra Club and the Coosa River Basin Initiative (CRBI) seeking to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require Georgia Power to clean up its Plant Scherer (Monroe County), which has been operating in violation of the Clean Air Act for over twenty years.

“The excessive air pollution in Georgia has been a serious public health hazard to every person and animal,” said Justine Thompson, Executive Director of GreenLaw [formerly the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest], representing Sierra Club and CRBI in this action. “We estimate that because Georgia Power is failing to comply with the Clean Air Act, it emits over 50,000 tons per year of sulfur dioxide beyond the legal limits.”

The federal Clean Air Act requires that Title V permits (air quality permits issued to major air pollution sources such as Georgia Power) include a timetable to bring air pollution sources that are violating the Clean Air Act into compliance. In 1999, EPA found that Georgia Power’s operations at Plant Scherer violate the Clean Air Act, but EPA has refused, despite petitions from Sierra Club and CRBI, to put Plant Scherer on a compliance schedule.
“Based on the recent U.S. Supreme Court victories in the environmental arena, we are optimistic about the outcome of this case. The Supreme Court has made it clear that EPA can no longer engage in foot-dragging or outright stone-walling on air pollution,” said Thompson.

Joe Cook, CRBI Executive Director and Riverkeeper, stated that "dirty air not only impacts our health, it also impacts economic growth in our region."

Coal-fired power plants are responsible for emitting a host of dangerous pollutants releasing over half of the total U.S. sulfur dioxide pollution and 18% of total nitrous oxides every year. Coal-fired power plants contribute the most to toxic mercury pollution and to Hazardous Air Pollutants or “HAPS” regulated under the Clean Air Act. Coal fired power plants also release about 50% of particle pollution.

EPA estimates that tens of thousands of Americans die prematurely from pollution emitted from power plants. “In light of the recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine linking heart disease in women to air pollution, there is no excuse for EPA to allow damaging long-term effects to public health from coal fired power plant pollution,” said Patty Durand, Director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club.

GreenLaw [formerly the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest] is a non-profit organization that provides free, high quality legal assistance to local, state and national environmental organizations working to protect Georgia’s natural resources from unlawful air and water pollution.

The Coosa River Basin is a non-profit organization and member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. Serving as the Upper Coosa Riverkeeper, its mission is to inform and empower citizens so that they may become involved in the process of creating a cleaner, healthier, more economically viable Coosa River Basin. Additional information may be found at www.coosa.org
The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization with over 12,000 members in the State of Georgia. Additional information may be found at www.georgia.sierraclub.org.