Illinois Court Dismisses Clean Air Act Claims.

An Illinois federal district court recently dismissed, in part, a complaint alleging Clean Air Act (CAA) violations at six coal-fired power plants in Illinois.  

The thirty-eight count complaint was brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and the State of Illinois in August 2009, claiming violations of New Source Review (“NSR”) related requirements under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). Certain citizen groups intervened in the case as additional plaintiffs.

More specifically, the complaint included allegations that Midwest Generation LLC operated coal fired generating stations that were modified without first obtaining required Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”) permits.  The complaint also alleged Midwest Generation LLC violated the PSD regulations by continuing to operate the plants without the required permits.  

However, Midwest Generation LLC argued that because most of the alleged modifications occurred prior to its purchase of the plants in 1999, it should not be held responsible.

The Federal district court judge agreed and dismissed nine counts (and partially dismissed a tenth) holding that because the PSD regulations only prohibit construction or modification without a permit, Midwest could not be held liable for modifications prior to its purchase.

A copy of the March 2011 “Memorandum Opinion and Order of the Northern District Court of Illinois re: USA v. Midwest Generation,” is available here.

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