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Two of New York’s largest coal-fired power plants will have to abide by the Clean Air Act, thanks to an Oct. 26 decision by the New York Court of Appeals. The dispute dates back to 2001, when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued operating permits to the Huntley and Dunkirk power plants, both located upstate. The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) objected to the permits, noting that just one year earlier the DEC had cited NRG Energy, the owner of the plants, for failing to obtain permits before making plant modifications and not installing the required pollution control equipment. The DEC maintained that the illegal modifications were a separate matter and could not be included in the operating permits. NYPIRG brought its dispute in the form of a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for reviewing permits issued by the DEC. EPA rejected NYPIRG’s request in 2001, prompting Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest law firm, to file suit on NYPIRG’s behalf in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The court ultimately ruled in favor of NYPIRG. “Today’s court decision upholds the government’s responsibility to act quickly to address violations that threaten our health and environment,” said Jason Babbie, senior environmental policy analyst at NYPIRG. “And it requires that the public be included in that process.” (B. Farrell) [11/07/05]

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