Illinois power plants will spend half a billion on pollution controls

A 1999 lawsuit against Illinois Power has ended in a proposed settlement of more than $520 million, most of which will go to installing new pollution controls. The suit charged that Illinois Power had violated the Clean Air Act by upgrading several plants without modifying pollution-reduction equipment, as required under the Clean Air Act’s new-source review rules. The settlement, which will be finalized once the government receives public comment and makes a recommendation to the court, also includes $15 million for mitigation and other green projects and a $9 million civil penalty — the largest the government has won in an emissions suit. The U.S. EPA estimates that the new pollution controls, which will be installed over a seven-year period, will more than halve the sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide emissions from five of the company’s plants. Says Thomas L. Sansonetti, an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, “The citizens of Illinois could not have asked for a better result.”