PennFuture files suit against Allegheny Energy

PITTSBURGH, Pa., Feb. 16, 2005 — Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture), with the support of the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), announced that it has filed suit against Allegheny Energy for massive air pollution violations at its Hatfield’s Ferry plant in Greene County, Pennsylvania.

This suit comes as the United States Congress is considering the so-called “Clear Skies” legislation, which will weaken the federal Clean Air Act and risk citizens’ health. Today’s citizen lawsuit was filed because the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have not yet stopped the pollution violations at the Hatfield’s Ferry plant.

“My own government has failed to protect me,” said Charlotte O’Rourke, local resident and plaintiff in the PennFuture case. “We have soot covering our houses and cars, decks and porches, lawns and flowers. I never open my windows – even last summer when my air conditioning broke. And I don’t let my grandchildren play outside. I’m sad that I’ve had to sue, but something has to be done right away.”

“This plant’s records show that it pollutes the air with soot six out of every seven days,” said Charles McPhedran, Senior Attorney for PennFuture. “No one should have to live under these circumstances. PennFuture intends to enforce the law against this soot-belching power plant.”

“It’s bad enough that the government agencies aren’t stopping the pollution, but if the majority in Congress has its way, even these laws will be gutted,” said EIP Director Eric Schaeffer. “At a time when we are learning that soot and fine particle pollution are not just dangerous, but deadly, it is a tragedy that our elected officials are considering putting more families at risk with their so-called ‘Clear Skies’ plan.”

The Hatfield’s Ferry pollution violates both federal and state law, persistently exceeding the limits for opacity (visible air contaminants) and particulate matter. Local residents have long complained of the effect of these pollutants on their homes and property, and recently have expressed concerns about their health. A copy of the complaint detailing the problems and the laws involved is posted on the PennFuture website, www.pennfuture.org.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state’s environment and economy. PennFuture’s activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

About The Environmental Integrity Project [ www.environementalinterity.org ]

The Environmental Integrity Project is a non-profit non-partisan organization dedicated to stronger enforcement of existing federal and state anti-pollution laws, and to the prevention of political interference with those laws. EIP’s research and reports shed light on how enforcement and rulemaking affect public health. EIP also works closely with communities seeking enforcement of environmental laws.

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