WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a $60.7 million Clean Air Act settlement with Nevada Power Company that will improve air quality in the Clark County/Las Vegas, Nev. area by requiring the company to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a harmful air pollutant, from its Clark Generating Station by about 2,300 tons annually.
The settlement resolves the federal government's claims that Nevada Power violated the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act at its Clark Generating Station by undertaking modifications of combustion turbines and increasing emissions of NOx without installing the required air pollution controls.
This is the first NSR settlement with an electric utility concerning alleged violations at a gas-fired power plant. It is also the second NSR settlement in the past year in the Western United States.
“The substantial reductions in air pollutants from Clark Station will improve the air quality in Nevada,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are pleased that Nevada Power has decided to come into compliance and to reduce air pollution. Through the close cooperation of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada and the EPA, we have been able to achieve significant reductions of harmful pollutants for the people of Nevada.”
“Today's settlement allows Clark County residents to breathe easier,” said Granta Nakayama, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This action protects public health by reducing harmful air emissions by more than 2,000 tons each year.”
“This case is further evidence that the EPA is fully committed to enforcing New Source Review and other clean air requirements to the maximum extent possible,” said Wayne Nastri, administrator for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. “It is a major victory for Nevada's citizens and because of it, they will breathe cleaner air.”
NOx causes severe respiratory problems and contributes to childhood asthma. NOx is also a significant contributor to smog and haze. Air pollution from power plants can travel a significant distance downwind, crossing state lines and creating region-wide health problems.
Under today’s proposed settlement, Nevada Power will install pollution controls on Units 5, 6, 7 and 8 at Clark Station. These pollution controls are estimated to cost about $60 million and will be installed beginning in 2008. Emissions of NOx are expected to be reduced by about 2,300 tons per year from 2004-2005 levels, an 86 percent reduction.
Nevada Power will also pay a $300,000 civil penalty and fund a $400,000 environmental mitigation project. The project will fund the installation of solar arrays on a non-profit organization’s building in the Las Vegas area.
The Nevada Power settlement was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada and is subject to a 30-day public comment period. A copy of the consent decree will be available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.