SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Illinois environmentalists are suing the owners of the state’s largest coal plant for violating the Clean Air Act.
Representatives of the Sierra Club allege the Prairie State Energy Campus has not received necessary governmental operating permits from the Illinois EPA for emissions testing. Without the permits, local residents would not be warned when pollution levels from the plant exceed certain thresholds, the group argued.
“The purpose of this litigation is to ensure Prairie State is subject to the most up to date pollution controls, control rules, and that the people of Illinois who breathe in the pollution emitted by Prairie State have access to the information they need to enforce limits at the plant,” Megan Wachspress, a staff attorney for the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program, said Wednesday.
Prairie State’s campus is located in the Metro East area in Marissa. According to the plant’s website, the plant provides 2.5 million families with electricity.
“Citizens, especially our children and grandchildren deserve power that does not pollute at will, breaking the law and stealing the health and welfare from our future,” Jean Korte, a Highland resident, said.
Prairie State officials said they are operating under a similar permit from the Illinois EPA and criticized the Sierra Club’s lawsuit as “politically motivated”.
“Prairie State remains committed to working with the IEPA to maintain compliance with environmental regulations and will not let this lawsuit distract from our mission of providing value to the communities served through the continued production of reliable and affordable power, all while providing jobs and maintaining economic prosperity for hardworking men and women across downstate Illinois,” Alyssa Harre, the Vice President of External Affairs & Organizational Strategy for Prairie State Generating Company said in a statement to WCIA.
During negotiations around the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act in 2021, Prairie State was given a longer timetable before plant would be required to shut down. The plant is authorized to stay open until 2045, while other coal plants have to close by 2030, on the condition the plant reduces 45% of its carbon emissions by 2038.