A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a Clean Air Act lawsuit brought against the Homer City Generating Station by the EPA and three states, including Pennsylvania.
In a ruling issued Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals said it agreed with U.S. District Court Judge Terrence McVerry, who dismissed the lawsuit in 2011 on grounds that the EPA and the states missed a regulatory deadline in which to file the lawsuit.
At issue were modifications made to Homer City’s No. 1 and No. 2 boilers in 1991 and 1994.
The EPA, along with Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, said the plant failed to obtain permits for the modifications and that the modifications significantly increased emissions of soot and sulfur dioxide.
They also said the plant is one of the country’s largest sources of air pollution, annually pumping 100,000 tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.
Moreover, the pollution created by the plant was blowing downwind, befouling their air, the states said.
The EPA and the states had been seeking fines of at least $32,500 per day, starting in March 2004, and an injunction barring operation of the plant until it corrected the problems.
Named in the lawsuit are the plant’s former owner and operator, Edison Mission, and the previous owners, New York State Electric & Gas Corp. and Pennsylvania Electric Co.
In the time since the lawsuit was initially filed, the plant changed hands again, with GE Capital taking it over from Edison.
As part of his ruling, McVerry said that Edison couldn’t be held accountable for modifications done before it acquired the plant.
Although the modifications in question were made in the 1990s, it wasn’t until 2008 that the EPA began pursuing enforcement action against the plant.