Justice Department and EPA Reach Clean Air Act Settlement with Arbor Hills Energy

Arbor Hills Energy LLC will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions at a gas-to-energy landfill in Northville, Michigan and pay a $750,000 fine as part of a settlement with the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, resolving alleged Clean Air Act and state law violations the Department of Justice announced Thursday. 

“’This settlement benefits public health and the environment by delivering deep cuts in SO2 emissions from the AHE Facility,’” said Todd Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, in the press release. “’The Department of Justice will continue to enforce the Clean Air Act vigorously in cooperation with our state partners.’”

In a complaint filed simultaneously with a consent decree, the United States and Michigan allege several Clean Air Act and state law violations at the AHE facility, including exceeding sulfur dioxide emissions limits. This pollutant can cause premature death, heart attacks, respiratory problems and adverse environmental effects once emitted into the air, the Department of Justice stated.

“‘Illegal air pollution from landfill gas power plants can harm people’s health and the environment,’” Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at the EPA Larry Starfield said in the press release. “‘This settlement is an example of how EPA is working to protect our communities by ensuring that landfill gas is handled in compliance with Clean Air Act requirements.’”

The AHE facility converts landfill gas into electricity by burning it as fuel in gas turbines. Under the terms of the settlement, AHE has until March 2023 to either eliminate sulfur dioxide emissions by constructing a renewable natural gas facility that converts landfill gas into pipeline quality natural gas or reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 64 percent by installing a sulfur treatment system. Both options will bring AHE into compliance with the Clean Air Act. The $750,000 fine will be split equally between the United States and Michigan, according to the Department of Justice.

This settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.