Ameren Missouri is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the company by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The suit filed in January alleges that Ameren violated the Clean Air Act by making multi-million-dollar modifications to its coal-fired power plant in Festus without installing required pollution controls and obtaining the necessary permits.

(Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio)

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

  • A State Senate committee spent several hours last night (Wednesday) discussing legislation that would allow utility companies in Missouri to charge customers for a site permit for a proposed nuclear power plant.  The reactor would be built by St. Louis-based Ameren Missouri and would be located next to the company’s reactor near Fulton.  The price tag for the site permit is around $40 million.  Opponents included Jean Blackwood of the Sierra Club:

  • Parts of Missouri are cleaning up after strong storms swept across the state overnight. The storms may have resulted in a few tornadoes late last night and early this morning. High winds knocked down power lines and trees in parts of the St. Louis area. There were no reports of injuries. Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were common in the St. Louis area.
  • Crews with Ameren Missouri are working to restore power to thousands of customers throughout Missouri.
Ameren Missouri's coal fire power plant at Labadie.
(Veronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

In the small Franklin County town of Labadie, Missouri, about 35 miles west of St. Louis, a debate is raging over what to do with millions of tons of coal ash.

The dispute is pitting area residents against the utility company Ameren – and putting Franklin County’s commissioners in the middle of the fight.

EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks says the federal government is confident Ameren Missouri violated the Clean Air Act at its Rush Island power plant near Festus.

Brooks was responding to a letter sent to the EPA last month by Senator Roy Blunt.

In the letter, Blunt defended Ameren and accused the EPA of overreaching its authority in order to “broadly penalize the use of coal in the United States.”

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  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that business groups are happy about Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's proposal to grant partial tax amnesty to those who owe back taxes. Nixon wants the state to waive half the interest and 100 percent of the penalties on delinquent taxes for those who pay during a designated amnesty period.

Natural gas customers of Ameren Missouri soon will see their rates go up, but not by much.

The monthly bill for a typical residential customer is projected to rise by about $3.30 under a plan approved by state regulators.

The increase will take effect Feb. 1.

The Missouri Public Service Commission said Thursday the rate agreement will generate about $5.6 million annually for Ameren Missouri. The company had requested an $11.9 million rate increase.

Ameren Missouri and the U.S. Department of Justice are at odds over environmental concerns.

The federal government filed a lawsuit today against the energy company for violations of the Clean Air Act.

The suit alleges that Ameren made multi-million-dollar modifications to its coal-fired power plant in Festus (map image above), without installing required pollution controls and obtaining the necessary permits.

The government wants Ameren to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, to address any harm caused by the violations, and to pay civil penalties.

Ameren spokesperson Susan Gallagher says the company did nothing wrong.

"We believe that the position that the EPA is taking will impose significant costs on Ameren customers, especially in tough economic times."

Gallagher says the modifications at the Festus plant consisted of routine maintenance projects allowed under the Clean Air Act.

This diagram is an excerpt of “figure 1” from Ameren’s “Detailed Site Investigation,” showing the location of the company’s proposed coal ash landfill.
Ameren Missouri

Ameren operates a coal-fired power plant in Labadie, Mo., about 35 miles west of St. Louis, and wants to build a 400-acre landfill near the plant to store coal waste.

Some Franklin County residents are definitely not happy about a possible landfill in the Missouri River floodplain and the effects it might have on drinking water.

Tonight they will once again be voicing their opposition to proposed regulations that would allow Ameren to go ahead with their plan.