"Many of Western Pennsylvania's 16 coal-fired power plants have been charged repeatedly for violations of their air or water pollution permits and paid relatively small penalties, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review of federal and state environmental agency data.
And delays in pursuing and fixing power plant emissions violations, especially during the George W. Bush administration, may have slowed the pace of air quality improvements in 14 southwestern Pennsylvania counties where a Post-Gazette investigation found higher mortality for respiratory and heart disease and lung cancer. All of those diseases have been associated with exposure to air pollution.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Enforcement and Compliance History database shows there were alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act filed against 14 of the region's 16 coal-fired power plants at some point over the last three years, and some alleged violations persisted throughout that period, from the middle of 2007 through the middle of this year.
Many of those allegations involved charges the power companies' facilities violated the Clean Air Act's New Source Review provisions by making major modifications of power plant operations that 'significantly increased emissions' of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and airborne particles, commonly called soot."