Slashing Sulfur Dioxide Pollution In Homer City

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution is extremely dangerous—just five minutes of exposure can lead to breathing problems, lung disease and heart attacks. A precedent-setting Earthjustice lawsuit led to EPA-enforced hourly SO2 limits that will benefit residents in the region, particularly children, the elderly and asthmatics.

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Case Overview

The Homer City Generating Station, a coal plant in western Pennsylvania, is a terrible neighbor. In 2010, the plant released more sulfur dioxide (SO2)—which can cause breathing problems, lung disease and heart attacks after only five minutes of exposure—than any other industrial facility in the nation. Data from the Clean Air Task Force has estimated that pollution from the plant contributes to 43 premature deaths, 72 heart attacks and 650 asthma attacks every year.

Hopefully, that’s about to change for the better. A precedent-setting Earthjustice lawsuit led to EPA-enforced hourly limits that will benefit residents in the region, particularly children, the elderly and asthmatics. The hourly controls were established in recognition of sulfur dioxide’s capacity to cause serious health impacts after short periods of exposure.

As efforts unfold across the country to clean up old, dirty coal-fired power plants, the hourly SO2 limits at Homer City will serve as a critical precedent that will influence coal plant cleanup.

The Homer City Generating Station in Pennsylvania.
The Homer City Generating Station in Pennsylvania. (Photo courtesy of Jon Dawson)

Case Updates

May 29, 2013 Press Release: Victory

One of the Nation’s Dirtiest Power Plants to Clean Up Sulfur Dioxide Emissions

New Homer City power plant protections set precedent on fight for cleaner air

February 13, 2012 Press Release

Sierra Club, Earthjustice To Sue Homer City Generating Station for Air Pollution in Violation of Clean Air Act

Homer City Generating Station, dirtiest power plant in nation, releases unhealthy levels of pollution

February 13, 2012 Document

Homer City NOI