EPA sues Luminant over Texas clean air violation claims

By Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Mark Chediak
Bloomberg News

Luminant Generation Co., the largest power generator in Texas, was sued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to meet air-pollution standards at two power plants, the Sierra Club said in a statement.

The enforcement action, which was filed under seal in federal court in Dallas, follows two earlier EPA notices of violations of the U.S. Clean Air Act by the Big Brown plant in Freestone County and the Martin Lake plant, located in Rusk and Panola counties.

Energy Future Holdings Corp., Luminant’s closely held parent company, disclosed the EPA violation notices in its Aug. 2 regulatory filing.

Meranda Cohn, a Luminant spokeswoman, said the company declined to comment since it hasn’t yet seen the suit. Dale Kemery, the EPA spokesman for enforcement actions, and Wyn Hornbuckle, a U.S. Justice Department spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Energy Future, based in Dallas, has asked the U.S. appeals court in New Orleans to review both EPA notices, which allege the pair of coal-burning plants failed to properly control sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, according to company filings.

Pollution Controls

“While dozens of other utilities nationwide are investing in clean energy, installing modern pollution controls to reduce pollution and retire aging coal plants, Luminant stands out as one of the nation’s very worst actors,” Nia Martin-Robinson, a Sierra Club spokeswoman for the group’s Beyond Coal campaign in Texas, said in the statement. “It burns the dirtiest possible coal — known as lignite — and has repeatedly refused to install modern pollution controls.”

Energy Future was formed in 2007 when investors led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., TPG and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners purchased TXU Corp. and took it private.

Energy Future said Aug. 2 that it’s in talks with creditors and is evaluating changes to its capital structure that include a voluntarily filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for some or all of the company, excluding power line-unit Oncor Electric Delivery.

Energy Future’s total debt was $43.55 billion at the end of June, according to a filing.