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Rhode Island Joins $8.5 Million Multistate Settlement with American Electric Power to Improve Air Quality

An Ohio-based electric company has agreed to pay $8.5 million in a multistate settlement that requires the reduction of air pollution to downwind states from its coal-fired power plants, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced today. Under the terms of the consent decree, Rhode Island will receive approximately $714,000 to fund public air pollution mitigation projects.

Eight states, including Rhode Island, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a number of citizens' groups joined together to negotiate the revised consent decree that improves a 2007 air pollution settlement with American Electric Power (AEP). Under the terms of the consent decree, AEP will reduce its total sulfur dioxide emissions by approximately 90 percent by 2029 from its baseline emissions before the original 2007 settlement.

"As a state, we have made a commitment to reduce our carbon and air pollution footprint by making state owned and operated facilities more energy efficient," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Clean, green, energy-efficient facilities reduce taxpayer costs, cut the harmful pollutants in our air and improve our quality of life."

Examples of past projects in Rhode Island funded through the AEP settlement include retrofitting state vehicles with pollution control devices, wind turbines at Fisherman's Memorial State Campground and East Matunuk State Beach, and a solar panel array project at RIPTA facilities in Providence. As in the past, the Office of Attorney General will meet with the Department of Environmental Management and Department of Administration to identify appropriate projects that comply with the consent decree.

Sulfur dioxide contributes to the formation of sulfates and fine particulates that can cause or exacerbate respiratory illnesses in the most vulnerable populations, including, the elderly and small children. It is also the principal contributor to acid rain, which can damage forests, destroy plant and animal life in lakes and other water bodies, deteriorate buildings and monuments, and affect the condition of farm land.

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