Today CLF filed a federal Clean Air Act citizen suit in New Hampshire federal district court against Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH), the owner of Merrimack Station power plant for the plant’s repeated failures to obtain required air permits. CLF’s citizen suit also cites numerous violations of Merrimack Station’s current permits and the resulting illegal emissions from the plant.
Merrimack Station is among the most polluting coal-fired power plants in New England and is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Hampshire, releasing over 2 million pounds of toxic chemicals every year. In addition, the plant is causing PSNH’s energy rates (already the highest in New Hampshire) to steadily climb as ratepayers are forced to foot the bill for the above-market cost of keeping PSNH’s old coal plants in operation.
CLF’s complaint contends that the plant, which is more than a half-century old and is in the midst of a major, multi-faceted life extension project, never obtained required permits authorizing renovations to major components of Merrimack Station, including much of an electric-generating turbine, even though the changes increased pollution from the plant. As predicted by PSNH’s own projections, the changes led to more emissions of pollutants, including smog-causing nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, or soot, which causes respiratory problems when inhaled and is linked to increased hospitalizations, lung damage in infants and children, and premature death.
“In the course of this project, PSNH has repeatedly violated the Clean Air Act, putting the health of the public, especially children and senior citizens, at risk,” said Christophe Courchesne, CLF staff attorney. “PSNH is not above the law and CLF is committed to holding them accountable. With PSNH trumpeting the supposed ‘clean air’ benefits of the Northern Pass project with full-page ads in newspapers across New Hampshire, it is imperative to shine a light on PSNH’s coal plants, which easily cancel out the purported benefits of Northern Pass.” Read more >