Federal court reverses TVA emissions ruling

Posted July 26, 2010 4:14 p.m. EDT
Updated July 26, 2010 6:35 p.m. EDT

— A federal appeals court in Virginia has reversed a judge’s ruling requiring the nation’s largest public utility to promptly install upgraded emission controls at four coal-fired power plants.

Three of the Tennessee Valley Authority plants are in Tennessee, and the other is in Alabama.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper sued the TVA, claiming emissions from the plants were blowing into North Carolina and polluting the air.

U.S. District Judge Lacy Thornburg had ordered the accelerated cleanup at the TVA plants, calling emissions affecting air quality in North Carolina’s scenic western mountains a “public nuisance.”

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond overturned that ruling Monday. Appeals court Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote that allowing the ruling to stand would undermine the nation’s carefully created regulatory scheme.