This Clean Air Act lawsuit took 10 years to get to this initial decision, but here we are, with an order to shut down coal plants, to shut them down in September, 2009, and not wait until their planned retirement in 2012.

Here’s the decision:

US v Cinergy, US District Court, Southern District of Indiana

And here’s an article about it:

Duke Energy Ordered to Shut Indiana Coal-Fired Units (Update2)

By Andrew M. Harris

May 29 (Bloomberg) — Cinergy Corp., now part of Duke Energy Corp., was ordered by a U.S. judge to shut three units of an Indiana power plant for federal Clean Air Act violations incurred during renovations more than 17 years ago.

U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney in Indianapolis issued the directive today, ending the second phase of a 2008 trial at which a jury found Cinergy modified the coal-fired facilities without installing best-available pollution controls.

Citing increased sulfur dioxide emissions from the units, McKinney’s 58-page ruling ordered them shut no later than Sept. 30.

Duke Energy acquired Cinergy three years ago. The units in question are part of its Wabash River power station, located near Terre Haute, McKinney said. The six-unit plant first came on line in 1953, according to the company’s Web site.

A second Indianapolis federal court jury this month found Cinergy had violated U.S. environmental regulations at two power units at its Gallagher Station in New Albany, Indiana, on the north bank of the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky.

That jury found in favor of the company on four other plant modifications that the U.S. government said exceeded ordinary maintenance, bringing them within the scope of the emissions regulations.

Duke ‘Disappointed’

“We are disappointed with the court’s decision to accelerate the shutdown,” Duke Energy Chief Legal Officer Marc Manly said in a statement. The company had planned to take the units, which supply 39 percent of the station’s power, off line in 2012.

Manly said the trials and court rulings had “vindicated” the majority of the Indiana and Ohio plant modifications questioned by the U.S.

“We will continue to review the court’s ruling and evaluate our options,” he said.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company has identified itself previously as the third-largest U.S. electric power holding company.

“The court’s conclusion that Cinergy illegally emitted hundreds of thousands of tons of air pollution, and irreparably harmed the public, provide ample support for its order,” Andrew Ames, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, said in an e- mailed statement.

Some of the power plant renovations were performed as early as 1989, according to McKinney’s decision. The latest were finished in 1992. The lawsuit was filed in 1999.

The case is U.S. v. Cinergy Corp., 99cv1963, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis).

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