CLF Statement Regarding Settlement of Claims Against Mt. Tom Coal Plant in Holyoke, MA

Claire Morgenstern

CONTACT:
Karen Wood, CLF, (617) 850-1722

BOSTON, MA  June 30, 2011 – In response to today’s announcement by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and the state Department of Environmental Protection that they have settled claims over violations of air quality at the Mt. Tom Power Plant in Holyoke, MA, Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) issued the following statement:

“CLF is gratified to see the State take enforcement action to address the violations that were uncovered at Mt. Tom,” said staff attorney Shanna Cleveland. “Particulate matter is one of the deadliest air pollutants emitted by coal-fired power plants, and is a major contributor to the poor air quality that is sickening residents in Holyoke and surrounding communities. The State’s insistence on continuous monitoring is an important step toward ensuring that the plant cannot continue to violate emissions limits with impunity.”

Particulate matter is responsible for a wide range of health impacts, including heart disease, lung damage and an increased risk of lung cancer. The asthma rate in Holyoke is more than twice the statewide average of 10.8 percent.

Cleveland continued, “This enforcement action is a step in the right direction, but even with the pollution controls recently installed at Mt. Tom, the plant has continued to emit harmful pollution and violate emissions limits. Despite their significant investment in technology to clean this plant up, the reality is that a 50-year-old coal plant cannot be modernized enough to run in compliance with the law, and moreover, cannot run efficiently, or economically. The only way to stop Mt. Tom from polluting the air and making people sick is for it to shut down. We need to be thinking less about how to keep old, polluting coal plants operating and more about how to get our electricity from clean, renewable energy.”

“The state initiated its enforcement action after CLF released a notice of intent to file suit against the Mt. Tom power plant for thousands of Clean Air Act violations between 2005 and 2010.”

Background on Coal-Free New England

CLF is working towards a coal-free New England by 2020. For more than 20 years, CLF has held the region’s coal-fired power plants accountable for violations of clean air and water laws, while winning tougher regulations to protect the environment and public health. CLF filed the appeals of state permits that resulted in the 2010 shutdown of Somerset Station, in Somerset, Massachusetts, and is currently in litigation with Salem Harbor Station in Salem, Massachusetts. With its tenacious legal advocacy, policy initiatives and regulatory expertise, CLF is applying pressure in all the right places to rid New England of old, dirty coal plants, keep the lights on at reasonable cost, and make way for clean renewable energy to power our region.

The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. Using the law, science and the market, CLF creates solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy region-wide. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

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