Clean Air Act Cases and Challenges

This Department has been very active in representing the State of Connecticut in various actions whose goal is to improve and protect Connecticut’s air quality.  These actions include lawsuits against major polluters and regulatory challenges to proposed federal rules that, instead of placing stricter controls on air emissions, would allow more pollution.

United States v. Cinergy – The State of Connecticut, along with the States of New Jersey and New York, and the United States, have joined in prosecuting claims that Cinergy Corporation violated the Clean Air Act by modifying its electric generating plants in Indiana and Ohio without obtaining required permits and without installing appropriate technology to control emissions of nitrogen oxides (Nox), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM).  The illegal changes to Cinergy’s plants have increased the emissions of these substances, which are carried by prevailing weather patterns to Connecticut, where they contribute to unhealthy air quality.  Nox, (SO2), and PM contribute to the formation of smog and acid rain, and to the depletion of the ozone layer.  They result in increased incidence of respiratory distress among children, people with heart ailments, and those suffering from asthma.  Connecticut is seeking a permanent injunction requiring Cinergy to operate in accordance with the Clean Air Act and to remedy its past violations by installing appropriate air pollution control technology at its plants.

United States v. Ohio Edison – Connecticut, along with New York, New Jersey, and the <st1:country-region>United States</st1:country-region>, sued Ohio Edison for Clean Air Act violations at its Sammis plant in Stratton, Ohio.  At the liability phase of the trial, the court ruled that Ohio Edison violated the Clean Air Act by making modifications at its facility without obtaining the necessary permits, which would have required Ohio Edison to install pollution controls.  The remedy phase of the case will be tried in Ohio beginning on July 18, 2004.

United States v. American Electric Power – Connecticut, the United States, seven other States, and citizen groups have sued American Electric Power for illegally modifying eleven plants in Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, and Virginia without obtaining required permits that would have necessitated the defendant’s installing air pollution controls.  Trial is expected to begin in late 2005.

Mercury Rule Challenge – Mercury is a highly toxic substance that is dangerous to young children and women of child-bearing age, who can be exposed by eating fish.  Although the United States Environmental Protection Agency originally proposed rules that would require plant-specific mercury emission standards and state-of-the-art pollution control technology, the EPA recently proposed revisions to these rules that would allow a cap-and-trade system under which utilities could buy and sell among themselves the right to emit mercury.  As the proposed rule changes weaken standards for mercury emissions and dangerously empower the utility industry to regulate itself, the State of Connecticut, along with a coalition of other States, will be filing comments to the proposed changes.

NSR Regulation Challenge – The State of Connecticut has joined other States in challenging changes to the federal new source review rules published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that would allow power plants to avoid installing pollution controls in perpetuity.  This challenge is pending in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.

Global Warming – The United States is the leader in the production of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas that causes global warming.  Connecticut has joined a coalition of States challenging the EPA’s determination that CO2 is not a pollutant and should not be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  Our challenge focuses on prior administrations’ interpretations of the Clean Air Act, and on the growing science that CO2 must be regulated to curb the effects of global warming.  Connecticut is particularly vulnerable to the effect of global warming, as it threatens unique State resources, such as our coastline and our fall foliage.  For more information on the effects of global warming and the actions that are being taken here in Connecticut, see Connecticut's Official Climate Change Website.