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Judge dismisses suit over DTE coal plant

A federal judge has decided that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can’t sue DTE Energy for failing to install pollution control equipment at the company’s Monroe plant during an equipment upgrade last year.

[

Business Week]() reports:

After more than a year of litigation, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman didn’t need a trial to convince him to rule in favor of the utility. He said the Environmental Protection Agency went to court too soon and needs to collect more data to determine whether improvements at Monroe Unit 2 have caused an increase in emissions.

DTE last year replaced key boiler parts at the plant about 40 miles south of Detroit. The EPA claims the project qualified as a “major modification,” which should have forced the utility to install state-of-the-art pollution controls.

DTE acknowledged the “project may eventually prove to be a `major modification,’” Friedman wrote in a 12-page decision dated Aug. 23. “That determination, however, cannot be made until the completion of the first year for which such measurements are required.”

Monroe Unit 2 emitted 27,320 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 8,205 tons of nitrogen oxide in 2009 and is the largest individual source of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in the state, according to EPA. The agency said that DTE has predicted that by 2013, Monroe Unit 2 will emit 33,816 tons of SO2 and 14,494 tons of NOX.

EPA had asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, to order DTE to shut down its Monroe Unit 2 until pollution control equipment is installed and requested civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day.

DTE’s Monroe facility produces more than a quarter of Michigan’s total CO2 emissions according to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project.

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