Power Company Fined for Violating Clean Air Act

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. slam / slæm / (v) – to strongly criticize someone or something

    The media slammed the company for its poor treatment of employees.

  2. plant / plænt / (n) – a building or factory that makes something

    My dad works at a food manufacturing plant.

  3. noxious / ˈnɒk ʃəs / (adj) – harmful to the health of living things

    People at factories need to wear special protective gear to avoid breathing in noxious gases.

  4. hazardous / ˈhæz ər dəs / (adj) – dangerous

    Most chemicals are hazardous to one’s health.

  5. contaminator / kənˈtæm ə neɪ tər / (n) – someone or something that makes an object or substance impure

    Factories are major air contaminators.


Read the text below.

Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) has been fined around $1.5 million for violating environmental laws in Petersburg, Indiana.

The fine was issued after the US Department of Justice slammed the company for continuous violations of the Clean Air Act, a law enacted to protect air quality in the country.

According to a complaint filed in the Southern District of Indiana, IPL replaced several components of its machinery at its Petersburg plant, which enabled it to burn more coal but also drastically increased the noxious gases it emitted. These gases can irritate the skin and eyes and damage the respiratory system.

IPL has been under fire for violations for the last few years. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management investigated its Petersburg plant in 2008, 2015, and 2016. The investigations found that IPL was not able to secure the necessary permits to modify its machinery. It also failed to install controls needed to reduce emissions that are hazardous to human health and the environment.

In 2014, the plant was designated as one of America’s super-polluters and appeared on a list of the worst air contaminators in the country.

Following the issues regarding the power plant, IPL struck an agreement with the US government. The company must either install a pollution control device or permanently cease operations in some of its Petersburg plants by mid-2030. IPL must also donate land for ecological preservation and undertake a $5-million project to lessen the environmental harm caused by the plant’s excess emissions.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, was IPL’s agreement with the US government reasonable? Why or why not?
• Why do you think IPL continuously violated the Clean Air Act? Speculate.

Discussion B

• What can be done to ensure that power companies comply with environmental laws (e.g. conduct regular audit of companies)? Discuss.
• What do you think can be a good source of clean energy in your community (e.g. solar energy)? Discuss.