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June 11, 2007

MidAmerican Pays Environmental Penalty

State lawsuit alleged MidAmerican Energy failed to obtain air quality construction permits for emission points at coal-fired power plant in Council Bluffs.

Council Bluffs.  Pottawattamie County District Court Judge G.C. Abel ordered MidAmerican Energy Company Monday to pay a $27,500 civil penalty for alleged violations relating to construction or modification of emission points at MidAmerican’s electric generating plant at Council Bluffs.

The court’s “Consent Order, Judgment and Decree” resolves a lawsuit also filed Monday by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. MidAmerican and the Attorney General’s Office agreed to the terms approved and ordered by the court. In addition to the $27,500 civil penalty, the court order permanently prohibits MidAmerican from further violations of Iowa law and regulations regarding permits for emission point construction or modifications.

The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleged that MidAmerican constructed and operated 11 emission points at the Council Bluffs Energy Center power plant without required review and permits from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. MidAmerican self-reported the violations last October, admitted the violations, and stated they were unintentional.

The lawsuit also alleged that MidAmerican made modifications to other emission points for which it did have permits, but without obtaining required modifications of the permits. However, MidAmerican said in a letter to DNR Director Richard Leopold that those construction modifications “actually resulted in a net decrease of potential emissions in an amount of 38 tons per year below the levels the IDNR authorized in the 2002 permits.”

The court’s Consent Order resolving the lawsuit noted that MidAmerican stated that the violations have been remedied by after-the-fact air quality construction permits and permit changes, and that when taken in total the changes reduced the potential emissions.

“In this case, it appears that the construction and modifications did not result in an increase in emissions,” said Attorney General Tom Miller. “However, the law clearly requires permits in advance from the DNR for this kind of activity. The regulations are designed to give the DNR an opportunity to examine plans in advance and evaluate their environmental consequences.”

MidAmerican’s Council Bluffs Energy Center electric plant is located at 7215 Navajo Street in Council Bluffs. It is a fossil fuel-fired steam electric generating plant.

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