EPA and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have reached a settlement that will require TVA to invest an estimated $3-$5 billion to modernize its coal-fired power plants and provide state-of-the-art pollution controls and clean energy technology.
The settlement resolves alleged Clean Air Act violations at 11 of TVA’s coal-fired plants in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The pollution controls will prevent approximately 1,200 to 3,000 premature deaths, 2,000 heart attacks and 21,000 cases of asthma attacks each year, resulting in up to $27 billion in annual health benefits. TVA also will invest $350 million on clean energy projects that will reduce pollution, save energy and protect public health and the environment.
“This agreement will save lives and prevent billions of dollars in health costs,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Modernizing these plants and encouraging clean energy innovation means better health protections and greater economic opportunities for the people living near TVA facilities. Investments in pollution control equipment will keep hundreds of thousands of tons of harmful pollutants out of the air we breathe, and help create green job opportunities that will reduce pollution and improve energy efficiency.”
Once fully implemented, the pollution controls and other required actions will address 92 percent of TVA’s coal-fired power plant capacity, reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 69 percent and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 67 percent from TVA’s 2008 emissions levels. The settlement also will significantly reduce particulate matter and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Uncontrolled releases of harmful air pollution like sulfur dioxide from power plants can affect breathing and aggravate respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, especially in sensitive populations like children and the elderly.
Communities near TVA’s facilities will directly benefit from $350 million in environmental projects designed to reduce harmful air pollution and promote energy efficiency. These investments will advance environmental justice by reducing pollution in overburdened communities and reducing energy costs for low-income communities. TVA also will spend $40 million to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through renewable projects such as hybrid electric charging stations and $8 million for a clean diesel and electric vehicle project for public transportation systems.
As part of the settlement, TVA will provide $1 million to the National Park Service and the National Forest Service to improve, protect or rehabilitate forest and park lands that have been impacted by emissions from TVA’s plants, including Mammoth Cave National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
TVA is an independent, corporate agency of the United States created as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority Act of 1933, and is headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn. TVA operates 59 coal-fired boilers at 11 plants in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee and operates other energy production facilities, including hydroelectric plants.
The settlement also requires TVA to pay a civil penalty of $10 million, with Alabama and Kentucky receiving $500,000 each and Tennessee receiving $1 million. The states of Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, and three non-governmental organizations – the National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club and Our Children’s Earth Foundation – have been involved in development of this settlement and are signatories to a companion consent decree that will be lodged in federal district court in the Eastern District of Tennessee.