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Last updated 5:04AM ET
March 9, 2021
Former Environmental Official Says TVA Violated Law
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - A former U.S. government air quality official says the Tennessee Valley Authority violated federal law by renovating and expanding power plants without installing new air pollution scrubbers.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Tuesday that Bruce Buckheit testified in federal court that TVA emitted more than 1 million tons of pollutants over 20 years. Buckheit is a former director of air enforcement at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Under cross-examination, Buckheit acknowledged that no court has ever convicted TVA of violating new source pollution rules of the Clean Air Act. He also acknowledged that 70 percent to 80 percent of the entire utility industry was found to be out of compliance with the Clean Air Act, including Duke Energy in North Carolina.

The testimony came in a lawsuit against TVA that accuses the utility of illegally allowing emissions to cross into North Carolina.

Buckheit said the Clean Air Act amendments approved by Congress in 1977 sought to extend the law to cover older coal-fired plants along with new ones. It required that modern pollution control equipment be installed on old plants when they are significantly expanded or renovated.

However, an EPA investigation in the 1990s found that utilities in many cases ignored the law and made substantial upgrades to extend the lives of power plants, many of which were built in the 1940s and 1950s, without reducing emissions, he said.

"These violations continue to this day," Buckheit testified. He said that had TVA complied with the law, it would emit 300,000 fewer tons of sulfur dioxide and 130,000 fewer tons of nitrogen oxides each year. Those reductions are in line with those sought in North Carolina's lawsuit, he said.

Buckheit, now a private consultant, left EPA in December 2003 and publicly blamed the Bush administration for what he said was the gutting of enforcement of clean air laws.

The TVA supplies electricity to all or part of seven states Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia.


Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times,

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