Coal pollution lawsuit settled as the whole game has changed

Back in 1999 the federal government and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against American Electric Power. AEP was accused of violating the Federal Clean Air Act and causing acid rain with pollutants from its coal-burning generating plants.

Back in 1999 the federal government and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against American Electric Power. AEP was accused of violating the Federal Clean Air Act and causing acid rain with pollutants from its coal-burning generating plants. The plants are located in Ohio and the Appalachia region. AEP fought the suit for eight years, then settled just as the district court was to hand down a decison today from the 2005 trial in Columbus, Ohio. That's where AEP is based. The AEP case had followed an April Supreme Court rurling against Duke Energy is a similar lawsuit. That may have triggered this settlement as legal costs mounted and AEP may not have been confident of winning.

Altogether the plaintiffs against AEP included the Environmental Protection Agency, eight states and fourteen environmental groups. They charged that AEP's discharge of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides had produced damaging acid rain along the Ohio River Valley and the mid-Atlantic States including Chesapeake Bay.

Here's AEP' ummary of the settlement. The company will pay sixty million for clean-up and abatement, fifteen million in damages (that'll clearly go to the lawyers) and then spend billions upgrading their coal plants. The company says much of the work on the coal plants is already done or planned anyway.

Makes you recall those simpler times when the focus was on acid rain pollution. Nobody in the U.S. back then was doing much about global warming, CO2 levels, etc. Even though the Kyoto Protocol had been opened for signatures in December, 1997. As a result the settlement makes no mention of CO2 or greenhouse emissions.

The settlement sounded good to Wall Street so AEP's stock price rose, as some market averages set new records on other economic news. Altogether it would appear the coal industry will continuing humming along tomorrow.