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Department of Justice
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Settlement with Interstate Power and Light to Reduce Emissions From Iowa Power Plants, Fund Projects to Benefit Environment and Communities

In a settlement announced today by the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Interstate Power and Light, a subsidiary of Alliant Energy, has agreed to install pollution control technology and meet stringent emission rates to reduce harmful air pollution from the company’s seven coal-fired power plants in Iowa.  The settlement also requires Interstate Power and Light to spend a total of $6 million on environmental mitigation projects and pay a civil penalty of $1.1 million to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.  Linn County, Iowa, the state of Iowa and the Sierra Club join the United States as co-plaintiffs in the case.

“This settlement is a victory for air quality and public health in Iowa,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “This agreement will cover all of Interstate’s coal-burning facilities in Iowa, requiring new pollution cutting technology and environmental projects to enhance air quality in surrounding communities, among other lasting benefits.” 

“The emissions reductions required by this settlement will lead to cleaner air and significant environmental and public health benefits for Iowans," said U.S. Attorney Kevin W. Techau for the Northern District of Iowa.  “This settlement will eliminate thousands of tons of harmful air pollution each year significantly improving air quality in Iowa and throughout the Midwest.  The agreement demonstrates the Department of Justice’s strong efforts, along with EPA, to bring large sources of air pollution into compliance with the Clean Air Act.”

“To serve the communities in which they operate, power plants must protect clean air for those living nearby,” said Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.  “This case delivers on the goals of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to reduce air pollution from the largest sources.  By installing new equipment and funding mitigation projects, Interstate Power and Light can help conserve energy and cut pollution in communities across Iowa.”

Under the settlement, Interstate Power and Light will install and continuously operate new and existing pollution control technology at its two largest plants in Lansing and Ottumwa, Iowa and will retire or convert to cleaner-burning natural gas its remaining five plants in Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Dubuque and Marshalltown, Iowa.  The new, state-of-the-art pollution controls required by the settlement are expected to cost approximately $620 million.  EPA estimates that the settlement will reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 32,500 tons per year and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 3,800 tons per year once the settlement is fully implemented.

Interstate Power and Light will also be required to spend $6 million on environmental mitigation projects.  The company will choose from five potential projects, including solar energy and anaerobic digester installations, replacing coal-fired boilers at schools with lower-emission equipment, an alternative fuel vehicle replacement program and a residential program to change out wood burning stoves and fireplaces. 

SO2 and NOx, two predominant pollutants emitted from power plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze. These pollutants are converted in the air to particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts and premature death.

This settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from large sources of pollution, which includes coal-fired power plants, under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements.  The total combined SO2 and NOx emission reductions secured from all these settlements will exceed 2 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.

The settlement was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District Court of Iowa for 30 days to allow for public comment.  The company is required to pay the penalty within 30 days after the court approves the settlement.

More on the settlement: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees

More information about EPA’s enforcement initiative: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/data/planning/initiatives/2011airpollution.html

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Updated July 15, 2015