ST. LOUIS, March 6 -- The Sierra Club issued the following news release:
Today the Sierra Club moved forward with legal action against Ameren by filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in St. Louis (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-1TEdRiQom-R251NzcxZGNMU0E/edit?usp=sharing) for nearly 8,000 violations of the Clean Air Act at three of the utility's coal-burning power plants in St. Louis, Franklin and Jefferson Counties.
The lawsuit was delivered at the United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri Courthouse in downtown St. Louis by local residents personally affected by pollution from Ameren's coal-burning power plants.
"Ameren's opacity violations mean that its coal plants are producing more harmful particles and toxins than the law deems safe," said Tom Diehl, a former School Board Member in Oakville and an advocate for clean air."These particles in the air are known to cause asthma, lung cancer, heart attacks and premature death. If any of us broke the law nearly 8,000 times we would be thrown in jail, yet Ameren keeps getting away with it."
In December, the Sierra Club delivered a Notice of Intent (NOI) (https://content.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2013/12/ameren-faces-legal-action-after-nearly-10000-clean-air-act-violations-st) to pursue legal action against Ameren for these violations. A required time period of 60 days was given between the Notice of Intent and filing of the lawsuit, during which time Ameren could have come to the table to reach a negotiated solution. Today's lawsuit covers nearly 8,000 air quality violations since March 5, 2009 at the Meramec, Labadie and Rush Island coal plants.
"60 days have passed and Ameren has not taken action to resolve nearly 8,000 violations of its Clean Air Act permits, let alone make any significant progress on clean energy," said Andy Knott, Missouri Beyond Coal Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. "St. Louis residents have paid the price for decades of Ameren's coal pollution with their health. It is time for Ameren to be held accountable for its egregious pollution and violations of the law."
The violations cited in the lawsuit are based on quarterly self-reported pollution data that Ameren submits to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The data was obtained by the Sierra Club in an effort to protect Missouri's air. The documents revealed egregious violations of the Clean Air Act by exceeding the opacity limits in Ameren's permit on average four times per day throughout the last five years.
According to the Clean Air Task Force, pollution from Ameren's Labadie coal plant in Franklin County, Meramec coal plant in St. Louis County and Rush Island coal plant in Jefferson County contribute to 3,870 asthma attacks, 360 heart attacks and 226 premature deaths every year.
"Particle pollution from Ameren's coal plants puts our health at risk here in St. Louis, especially for vulnerable community members like children and the elderly," said Dr. John Kissel, Retired Primary Care Physician, Internal Medicine. "It is time for Ameren to start phasing out its dependence on coal and making smart investments in clean energy."
"As an asthmatic, I know firsthand how coal pollution affects not just your health, but overall quality of life," saidDonna Seidel, a concerned parent who lives near the Meramec plant and suffers from asthma. "When Ameren pollutes, we pay - with our health, doctors appointments and missed opportunities."
"The main thing we want is for this pollution to stop," said Gary Kappler, a clean air advocate and grandfather living near the Rush Island coal plant. "We know air pollution and smog is bad for people's health--it's bad for my grandson's asthma--and we know where it's coming from. The good news is there are solutions Ameren can utilize to fix this problem."
Although Ameren relies on coal for nearly 80 percent of its electricity generation, the national average is closer to 40 percent. Utilities around the country are investing in more diverse energy portfolios, resulting in cleaner air and water.
"In January, Kansas City Power & Light announced it is nearly doubling its wind energy capacity, effectively blowing Ameren away when it comes to clean energy investment," said Knott. "When is Ameren going to wake up and start being a leader in creating a 21st century clean energy economy?"
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