Peoria Journal Star

December 22, 2005

MGP reaches air pollution settlement
Pekin ethanol producer agrees to cut emissions, pay $171,800 penalty

By Dori Meinert
Copley News Service

PEKIN - MGP Ingredients of Illinois Inc., which operates an ethanol plant in Pekin, has reached a settlement with federal and state officials over allegations that it violated air pollution regulations.

The settlement, which was filed in federal court in Illinois, will result in a reduction of more than 1,700 tons of air pollutants a year at the Pekin plant, according to the U.S. Department of Justice in a joint announcement with state officials on Wednesday.

The settlement is part of a national crackdown on ethanol plants. With the MGP settlement, about 83 percent of the ethanol production capacity nationwide will be under consent decrees requiring new pollution controls, officials said.

"This settlement is part of our ongoing initiative to ensure that the nation's ethanol production plants comply with air pollution regulations, while continuing to provide fuel that, blended with gasoline, will result in reduced carbon dioxide emissions in the winter months," said Thomas V. Skinner, administrator of the Chicago regional office of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The settlement requires MGP to install up to $2 million worth of air pollution-control equipment to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds by 95 percent and carbon monoxide by 90 percent. The company also must pay a civil penalty of $171,800, which will be split between the federal government and the state.

MGP officials couldn't be reached for comment.

Federal and state officials alleged MGP violated the Clean Air Act by failing to obtain the appropriate permit before a major modification of its Pekin facility and failed to install pollution controls that would have been required under that permit.

In addition to contributing to smog, VOCs can cause serious health effects such as cancer, the Justice Department announcement said. Carbon monoxide is harmful because it reduces oxygen delivery to the body's organs and tissues. The primary sources of these emissions are the feed dryers, fermentation units, distillation units, ethanol loadout operations and dust from plant operations.

The Illinois EPA joined with the U.S. EPA and the Justice Department in the settlement negotiations. Other ethanol companies that have reached settlements include: Cargill Inc., based in Minnesota; AGP Corn Processing Inc. of Nebraska; Golden Triangle in Missouri; U.S. Energy of Kansas; Ace Ethanol of Wisconsin; Archer Daniels Midland of Decatur, Ill.; and 12 Minnesota ethanol dry mills.

Dori Meinert can be reached at (202) 737-7686 or dori.meinert@)copleydc.com.