New England’s Biggest Coal-Fired Power Plant to Shut Down

Heavy-polluting Massachusetts power plant to close in 2017. The owner of the coal-fired Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Mass., filed papers indicating the plant will no longer provide power to the region’s electricity grid as of May 2017. The announcement came just months after the plant was sold by Virginia-based Dominion to Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm. The plant’s new owner pointed to a number of reasons for the planned shutdown, including low electricity prices from a surplus of natural gas and the need to invest “significant capital to meet environmental regulations and to operate and maintain an aging plant.” Environmental groups had long sought to close the plant, which topped a government list of the biggest sources of toxic emissions in Massachusetts in 2011. The Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear cigarette companies’ appeal of Florida ruling. The high court turned away arguments by Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Liggett that challenged a $2.5 million award to the family of Charlotte Douglas, who died in 2008 of lung cancer at age 62. The Supreme Court has declined three times in the past two years to intervene in tobacco litigation in Florida, where thousands of smoker suits are pending. Florida juries already have returned verdicts totaling more than $500 million against the industry. Cigarette makers have unsuccessfully sought to limit a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision allowing a jury’s factual findings against the industry in a class-action case to serve as the starting point for individual suits. The Florida high court reaffirmed that ruling in the Douglas case. Bloomberg, Winston-Salem Journal, Public Health Advocacy Institute

Tobacco industry giants lobby to prevent strict rules for e-cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration says it intends to start regulating the sprawling e-cigarette industry this month under the 2009 tobacco-control law. But tobacco executives, who have entered the booming market for e-cigarettes, are arguing against tough rules in high-level meetings at the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products and with members of Congress. The industry’s pitch is that the battery-powered devices, which deliver a vapor with nicotine and other chemicals, are essentially harmless, especially compared with the cancer-causing toxins in regular cigarette smoke. E-cigarette concerns also are lobbying city and state lawmakers over proposed taxes and restrictions. The Washington Post

An estimated 278 people in 18 states have been sickened in a salmonella outbreak linked to chicken. In a public health alert, the U.S. Department of Agriculture named three Foster Farms operations in California as the likely source of raw chicken contaminated with a strain of bacteria known as salmonella Heidelberg. Most of the chicken has been sold in California, Oregon and Washington, and most of the illnesses have occurred in California. No recall has been announced. The agency explained that its Food Safety and Inspection Service “is unable to link the illnesses to a specific product and a specific production period.” Products from the three Foster plants carry the USDA marks P6137, P6137A or P7632. USA Today, The Associated Press

Southern California battery recycler accused of toxic emissions will spend $7.7 million to cut pollution. Under a deal with the state, Exide Technologies will pay for a new storm-water system and for new filters and other improvements to lower arsenic emissions at its Vernon, Calif., plant. The money will also fund previously announced tests for lead and arsenic in the soil and dust in the surrounding neighborhood, as well as voluntary blood tests for 250,000 people possibly affected by emissions. The deal means state regulators will drop their effort to temporarily close the plant, which they moved to do in March after reports that arsenic emissions posed an increased cancer risk to 110,000 people living nearby. A bankruptcy judge still must approve the plan. Los Angeles Times

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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