The days of monetary fines for polluters are becoming less common.
If you already don’t know, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a regulatory agency, which means it has the authority to enforce and issue penalties to businesses and individuals who do not comply with federal and state approved environmental laws (each state has its own state-run EPA too). Typically, polluter penalties resulted in monetary fines up to hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars, hence the reason why EPA gets a dark stare down from industry folks. However recently, new polluter fines are not only monetary and they are calling for the installment of updated, cleaner, and more efficient technologies to support their operations.
It’s a genius idea; to invest in long-term technology that will have even greater benefits for human health and the economy. On June 29, EPA announced a settlement with Dairyland Power, which operates three coal-fired plants in Wisconsin, for the company to invest in $150 million pollution controlling technology which will reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 29,000 tons per year from 2008 levels and significantly reduce particulate matter (PM) emissions (these are typical emissions from fossil fuel plants, all of which are not so good for your health).
Earlier this year in April, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and EPA agreed to a settlement with a New Jersey (my home state doesn’t have any environmental issues!) refinery to implement $45 million in new pollution controls to resolve Clean Air Act violations. If you would like to know more about the details of the settlement and the new technology, you can read about it here.
The modern day pollution fine certainly gets GreenLight approval, and I hope this “middle ground” type of settlement between EPA and industry can change the misconceptions of the regulatory agency and allow the public to understand that we still want our economy to flourish and be healthy for future generations. Cheers.