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Clean Air: Case Highlights

The following cases were brought by EPA to address violations of the Clean Air Act. Through the highlighted cases described below, and the many other EPA air enforcement cases concluded in FY 2010, EPA compelled compliance with the law and achieved substantial reductions in emissions of air pollutants, totalling an estimated 410 million lbs. per year.

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Coal/Gas-Fired Electric Utilities - NSR Regulation

The following are significant air resolutions in fiscal year 2010:

Hoosier Energy

On July 23, 2010, the United States filed a major Clean Air Act settlement with Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative (Hoosier Energy), a coal-fired utility in Indiana.  Under the settlement, Hoosier Energy will install and upgrade pollution control technology at its two coal-fired power plants in to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act.  The settlement will reduce harmful air pollution by more than 24,500 tons per year and requires Hoosier to spend $5 million on environmental projects.  Hoosier Energy will also pay a civil penalty of $950,000. Read more on Hoosier Energy

Duke Energy Gallagher Plant

On December 22, 2009, the United States filed a major Clean Air Act settlement with Duke Energy, to reduce air emissions from the Gallagher coal-fired power plant in New Albany, Indiana.  Under the settlement, Duke Energy will spend approximately $85 million to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by almost 35,000 tons per year.  Duke Energy will also spend $6.25 million on environmental mitigation projects and pay a $1.75 million civil penalty. Read more on Duke Energy Gallagher Plant

Westar Energy Inc.

On January 25, 2010, the United States filed a major Clean Air Act settlement with Westar Energy, a coal-fired utility in Kansas, to reduce air emissions from the Jeffrey Energy Center.  Under the settlement, Westar will install and operate pollution control equipment on the three coal-fired boilers which will result in SO2 and NOx emission reductions of approximately 78,600 tons per year, an 85 percent reduction from 2007 emissions.  Westar will spend approximately $500 million to control the emissions and will pay a $3 million civil penalty.  In addition, Westar will spend $6 million on environmental mitigation projects. Read more on Westar Energy Inc.

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Mobile Sources

Mobile source pollutants include smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, toxic air pollutants such as cancer-causing benzene, and particulate matter or “soot” that are responsible for asthma and other respiratory illnesses.  EPA enforces the Clean Air Act provisions governing motor vehicles and engines, including emissions standards for manufacturers of new motor vehicles, passenger cars and light trucks, and heavy duty motor vehicle engines.  The requirements are designed to limit harmful emissions from these vehicles when they are running and evaporative emissions when they are not.

The following major settlements were concluded in fiscal year 2010:

Manny, Moe & Jack (Pep Boys)

The scope of the Pep Boys case is unprecedented in cases of its kind, as it is the largest vehicle and engine importation case brought by the United States to date under the Clean Air Act both in number of vehicles and engines affected and penalty paid.  The complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement in federal court in the District of Columbia, alleges that Pep Boys and Baja imported and sold more than 241,000 illegal vehicles and engines, from 2004 through 2009, in violation of the Clean Air Act.  As a direct result of the litigation team’s efforts, Pep Boys agreed to pay $5 million in civil penalties.  The agreement also requires Pep Boys to perform substantial injunctive relief including the export or destruction of over 1,300 noncompliant vehicles and engines, and mitigation of the adverse environmental effects of equipment already sold to consumers, estimated at 620 tons of excess hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and more than 6,520 tons of excess carbon monoxide emissions, at an estimated cost of over $5 million. Read more on Manny, Moe & Jack (Pep Boys)

Cummins, Inc.

Cummins, Inc. paid a $2.1 million civil penalty to resolve an enforcement action for Clean Air Act violations involving Cummins’ shipment of over 570,000 engines to vehicle manufacturers  without the exhaust after-treatment devices (ATDs) required by Act.  ATDs are devices that control engine exhaust emissions once the emissions have exited the engine and entered the exhaust system.  Typical ATDs include catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters.   Cummins recalled 405 noncompliant engines to install the correct ATDs.  Cummins mitigated excess emissions from these engines through permanent retirement of emission credits equivalent to the lifetime excess emissions from 633 engines either known or projected to have been installed in vehicles with incorrect or missing ATDs.  Cummins agreed to mitigate excess emissions through permanent retirement of banked emission credits equivalent to 167.1 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) plus hydrocarbons and 30 tons of particulate matter (PM).  The State of California, through the Air Resources Board, was an active co-litigant in this case for violations arising from the sale of trucks containing these engines in California. Read more on Cummins, Inc.

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Container Glass Manufacturing

Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc.

On January 21, 2010, the United States filed a major Clean Air Act settlement with Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc., the nation’s second largest container glass manufacturer, to reduce air emissions from their 15 U.S. plants. The settlement is the first system-wide settlement for the glass manufacturing sector under the Clean Air Act.  Saint-Gobain agreed to install pollution control equipment at an estimated cost of $112 million to reduce emissions of NOx, SO2, and PM by approximately 6,000 tons each year.  In addition, as part of the settlement, Saint-Gobain has agreed to pay a civil penalty of  $2.25 million.  The settlement involved a significant amount of federal and state coordination, including seven EPA Regions, ten states, and two local air agencies. Read more on Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc.

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Portland Cement Manufacturing 

Lafarge North America, Inc.

On January 21, 2010, the United States filed a major Clean Air Act settlement with Lafarge North America, Inc., the nation’s second largest manufacturer of Portland cement, to reduce air emissions from their 13 U.S. plants. The settlement is the first system-wide settlement for the Portland cement manufacturing sector under the Clean Air Act.  Lafarge has agreed to install and implement control technologies at an expected cost up to $170 million to reduce emissions of NOx by more than 9,900 tons per year and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by more than 26,000 tons per year.  Lafarge has also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $5,075,000.  The settlement involved a significant amount of federal and state coordination, including seven EPA Regions, 12 states, and one local air agency. Read more on Lafarge North America, Inc.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions Achieved Through EPA Enforcement Cases

As part of EPA’s enforcement goals for climate change and clean energy, EPA has pursued opportunities to obtain greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions through case settlements.   These opportunities often arise when EPA brings an enforcement action to address violations involving excess emissions of criteria pollutants, which may also have resulted in increases of GHGs.  In resolving such actions, EPA can include an environmental project to reduce emissions of GHG emissions.  The FY 2010 settlements described below are examples of the enforcement actions that resulted in substantial reductions in emissions of GHGs.

Ralston Foods

Under the terms of a settlement with Ralston Foods, the company will reduce GHG emissions of approximately 1.6 million pounds of CO2 a year by reducing down the energy needed to cool its two powerhouse air compressors.  Ralston Foods stopped using energy-hogging cooling units and installed a new cooling system that requires virtually no energy to operate, yet absorbs the heat given off by the compressors.  This reduction in power will save over 1.5 million kwh of energy each year, which equates to 1,297 tons of CO2 emissions reduced each year.  The change in cooling systems is mandated by a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to be implemented by Ralston Foods. 

Shell Chemical Yabucoa, Inc.

The Shell Chemical Yabucoa, Inc. settlement is part of OECA’s national Petroleum Refinery Initiative and resolves Shell’s violations of the Clean Air Act at its Yabucoa facility.  GHG reductions of over 1 billion pounds of CO a year are associated with the facility’s shut down of its heaters and boilers.  The facility is not expected to generate any increased offsetting GHG emissions since the settlement mandates a permanent shut down of these combustion units.  Besides GHG reductions, the settlement resulted in reductions of approximately 1.6 million lbs of NOx and 1.3 million lbs of SO2.

Edgeboro Disposal, Inc.

EPA’s settlement with Edgeboro Disposal, Inc. (EDI) resulted in the facility constructing a new $6,000,000 methane gas collection control system for EDI’s landfill.  EPA estimates that the new system over portions of the EDI landfill will reduce approximately 1 million pounds of CO2.  This estimate was based on the new control system’s ability to recover and destroy the methane emitted by the landfill.  The facility’s continued collection of gas is not expected to result in any increased offsetting of GHG emissions beyond the combustion of methane to CO2 in flaring.  In addition to GHG reductions, the settlement resulted in reductions of 258,000 pounds of non-methane organic compounds.

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Cross Media

Many enforcement cases address environmental harm across multiple medias - air, water and land.  Combining enforcement of all media results in a more effective overall management of a facility’s or company’s environmental liabilities and is generally more cost-effective than bringing two or more independent media-specific actions.  In addition to the above air cases EPA also settled multi-media cases that addressed environmental harm primarily to air but also to water and land. 

The following are significant multi-media resolutions in 2010.

U.S. v. McWane, Inc. (McWane)

The United States reached a civil judicial settlement with McWane to resolve more than 400 multimedia violations at 28 of McWane’s facilities located in 14 states.  McWane, a national cast iron pipe manufacturer headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, is required under the Consent Decree to complete injunctive relief under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to achieve compliance at its Coshocton, Ohio facility and to pay a civil penalty of $4 million to the United States, Alabama, and Iowa.  Additionally, the company agreed to perform seven supplemental environmental projects at a minimum cost of $9.1 million.  Combined with the corrective measures already undertaken by McWane at a cost of $7.6 million, the settlement will reduce emissions, discharges and releases of particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, mercury, storm water pollutants and PCBs in excess of 4 million pounds.  Read more on McWane, Inc.

U.S. v. Formosa Plastics Corporation, Texas, Formosa Plastics Corporation, Louisiana, Formosa Hydrocarbons, Inc (Formosa)

The United States reached a civil judicial settlement with Formosa to resolve violations of the CAA, Clean Water Act (CWA), Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Comprehensive Emergency Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at Formosa’s Point Comfort, Texas PVC facility and Baton Rouge, Louisiana PVC facility.  Formosa will pay a $2.8 million penalty, and will spend over $10 million to implement a comprehensive enhanced leak detection and repair (LDAR) program which goes beyond regulatory compliance by requiring more stringent leak definitions, more frequent monitoring, and repair of additional chemical manufacturing equipment.  The enhanced LDAR program will potentially reduce annual volatile organic compounds air emissions, including hazardous air pollutants such as vinyl chloride, from the two Formosa facilities by approximately 6.57 million pounds per year.  The Formosa Texas facility will undertake a comprehensive review of its compliance with EPCRA’s toxic release reporting requirements, and the Formosa Louisiana facility will cease improper disposal of certain listed hazardous wastes.  This is the eighth settlement under the PVC Enforcement Initiative which has addressed cross-media noncompliance at 13 PVC facilities since 2004.  Read more on Formosa Plastics Corporation

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Criminal Case Highlights

For information on criminal violations involving air, see Criminal Case Highlights.

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Resources

For more information on clean air statutes and regulations, enforcement programs, enforcement initiatives and cases and settlements see:

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