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WildEarth Guardians Ramps up Efforts to Safeguard Clean Air from Lamar, Colorado Coal-fired Power Plant

More than 1,000 additional Clean Air Act violations uncovered at beleaguered plant

Denver-Stepping up efforts for clean air, WildEarth Guardians today notified the Lamar Utilities Board and the Arkansas River Power Authority Energy that it intends to file another lawsuit against the utilities over more than 1,000 violations of the Clean Air Act at the Lamar, Colorado coal-fired power plant, many of which appear to be ongoing.

“The Lamar power plant continues to flout laws meant to keep communities safe from air pollution,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “It’s time to a put a stop to this illegal air pollution and rein in the irresponsible operation of this dangerous coal-fired power plant.”

The 43 megawatt Lamar power plant was permitted to convert from natural gas to coal in 2007 and since has been plagued with problems. In late 2009, WildEarth Guardians filed suit in federal court in Denver against the Lamar Utilities Board and Arkansas River Power Authority over the utilities’ failure to limit toxic air pollution. The lawsuit was later amended to challenge the failure of the City of Lamar to obtain approval from voters for the plant conversion, as required by the Town Charter. That lawsuit is ongoing.

The 43 megawatt Lamar power plant was permitted to convert from natural gas to coal in 2007 and since has been plagued with problems. In late 2009, WildEarth Guardians filed suit in federal court in Denver against the Lamar Utilities Board and Arkansas River Power Authority over the utilities’ failure to limit toxic air pollution. The lawsuit was later amended to challenge the failure of the City of Lamar to obtain approval from voters for the plant conversion, as required by the Town Charter. That lawsuit is ongoing.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), nitrogen oxide gases can adversely affect respiratory health, aggravate heart disease, and lead to a host of other adverse respiratory health effects, and contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, the key ingredient of smog. Sulfur dioxide is also a respiratory irritant with studies showing short-term exposure can lead to increased visits to emergency rooms for respiratory illness. Particulate matter, is linked to increased respiratory symptoms and difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, nonfatal heart attacks, and even premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

“We’re incredibly worried about what this plant is doing to do to our families and our community,” said Shirley Warren, a Lamar resident who lives near the coal-fired power plant. “All we’re asking for is accountability. We need electricity, but with cleaner alternatives available, it’s unacceptable to allow this plant to continue fouling our air and our lives with toxic pollution.”

Citizens can file suit in federal court against polluters under the Clean Air Act, but first have to provide 60 days notice. Under the Clean Air Act, Lamar Light and Power and the Arkansas River Power Authority could be penalized as much as $37,500 for every violation, meaning the utilities face more than $37,500,000 in total penalties.

WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the wildlife, wild places, and wild rivers of the American West. With over 3,500 members in the West and offices in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, WildEarth Guardians works to promote clean energy and hold fossil fuels accountable to protecting public health and the environment.

View the Notice Letter (PDF)

View the Complaint (PDF)


 

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