Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

March 6, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Lawsuit against Puget Sound Energy alleges coal-plant pollution violations

A federal lawsuit filed today against Puget Sound Energy and other co-owners of a coal-energy plant in Montana alleges that the plant violates Clean Air Act standards.

The Colstrip coal-fired plant located east of Billings is the second-largest plant of its kind west of the Mississippi. PSE is its largest owner according the suit filed by the Sierra Club and Montana Environmental Information Center.

The groups claim the plant burns one train car’s worth of coal every five minutes without modern pollution-control upgrades. Even with modern upgrades, the groups say, the plant would emit pollution equivalent to what 3 million automobles produce a year.

The suit asks for a court order that would require PSE and the other owners to install upgrades that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, or pay $37,500 in fines per day for violating pollution standards. Making modern coal-fired plant operations cost-prohibitive is part of a long-term plan to reduce coal-burning in general, according to Bruce Nilles of the Sierra Club.

“When coal-owning utilities can no longer dump their pollution on unsuspecting customers for free, they realize sticking with coal is a gamble they can’t afford to risk,” Nilles said in a statement.

Puget Sound Energy spokesman Roger Thompson said the groups gave notice last summer that a lawsuit may be filed.  He said he couldn’t comment on the individual accusations in the suit yet but could say, “We believe [the plant] is fully compliant with federal and state environmental laws.”

Thompson said he did not know how long it might take for PSE to submit a response to the suit.

Other owners of the plant include PPL Montana, Avista Corp., Portland General Electric Company, Northwestern Corp. and Pacificorp.

 

Comments | Topics: coal, lawsuit, Montana

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►