The U.S. Department of Justice sued Dallas-based Luminant Generation on Friday in federal court in Dallas over emissions at two Northeast Texas coal-fired power plants.The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to court documents related to the case. The main complaint by the government was sealed, based on Luminant’s claims that the suit contains confidential business information at its Martin Lake and Big Brown facilities, court records show.A Luminant spokesman said the company could not comment until it reviewed the lawsuit.The Sierra Club said Friday that the suit is an enforcement action related to previous EPA notices to Luminant for violations of the federal Clean Air Act. The environmental advocacy group said those violations involve changes to the Big Brown plant, near Fairfield and the Martin Lake plant, east of Tyler, that should have prompted Luminant to apply for new permits and install additional pollution-control equipment.“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,” the Sierra Club’s Nia Martin-Robinson said in a prepared release. “It burns the dirtiest possible coal — known as lignite — and has repeatedly refused to install modern pollution controls.”Luminant has cases pending before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the EPA’s notices of violation.In those appeals, the company argues that the agency overstepped its authority and failed to support its contention that changes at the power plants required new permits for emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Luminant says it is in compliance with Texas rules regarding modifications to existing power plants.According to an Aug. 2 regulatory filing by EFH, the EPA in July sent the company a second notice of violation regarding Big Brown and Martin Lake’s compliance with clean-air rules. It said it also appealed that notice.Luminant is owned by Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings, the former TXU Corp. that was acquired in a massive 2007 leveraged buyout. The company is now struggling to restructure that debt load.
Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 Twitter: @jimfuquay