A.G. Schneiderman Announces That New York Joins EPA, State Goverments In Settlement With Guardian Industries To Cut Air Pollution Emissions

Settlement Over Alleged Clean Air Violations Requires $312,000 Penalty And Significant Cuts In Smog, Soot, And Other Air Pollutants Emissions at Guardian’s Glass Manufacturing Facilities Nationwide – Including Company’s Geneva, NY Plant

Schneiderman: “This Settlement Will Help Ensure New Yorkers Living In the Finger Lakes Region Enjoy Clean, Healthy Air”

GENEVA – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Acting Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Marc Gerstman today announced that New York is joining the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Iowa, and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in a settlement with Guardian Industries Corporation that requires significant reductions in air pollution emissions at seven of the company’s “float” glass manufacturing plants nationwide – including its Geneva, NY facility.  The settlement, which in the form of a consent decree was lodged with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, resolves multiple alleged federal Clean Air Act violations at the Guardian facilities.    

“New Yorkers’ health, environment, and economy depend on clean air,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.  “This settlement will ensure that the Guardian facility in Geneva operates in full compliance with air pollution laws.  It will also significantly cut emissions from the facility, providing a breath of fresh air to New Yorkers living in the Finger Lakes region.”

In complaints filed with the court along with the settlement, the parties allege that Guardian made major modifications to furnaces at seven of its float glass manufacturing facilities without obtaining the required federal Clean Air Act permits, and without installing pollution control technologies on the furnaces and taking other actions required by the law when such modifications are made.

“This settlement is a great example of a cooperative, company-wide effort to reduce air pollution and will mean cleaner air for communities across the country, where glass manufacturing is currently a significant source of the air pollutants that cause serious lung and heart problems,” said Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “We are also particularly grateful to the states of Iowa and New York, as well as the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, all of whom were active partners in achieving this important outcome for the American people.”

In complaints filed with the court along with the settlement, the parties allege that Guardian made major modifications to furnaces at seven of its float glass manufacturing facilities without obtaining the required federal Clean Air Act permits, and without installing pollution control technologies on the furnaces and taking other actions required by the law when such modifications are made.

“Air pollution from flat glass facilities can impact communities hundreds of miles away, which is why today’s announcement is so crucial to address pollution at the source and protect public health,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By investing in pollution control equipment and funding a mitigation project that will protect the health of low-income residents, Guardian is setting an example for the flat glass industry for how to control harmful air emissions at its facilities.”

The settlement, which was negotiated for over a year, requires Guardian to install required pollution control technologies and meet air pollution emission limits on a schedule.  These requirements will achieve significant reductions of emissions of particulate matter (otherwise known as “soot”), nitrogen oxides (which contribute to smog), sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid (which contribute to acid rain) at the Guardian facilities, including the Geneva facility.  At this facility, and based on current production, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that the settlement will yield reductions in emissions of soot, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and sulfuric acid of approximately 50%.   

The Consent Decree also requires Guardian to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $312,000, $78,000 of which will go to New York.

“Float” glass is manufactured through at method where molten glass is floated on a bed of molten metal, resulting in finished glass with uniform thickness and very flat surfaces.  Windows, doors, mirrors, tabletops, and other common products are made from float glass.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney Morgan Costello.  The Environmental Protection Bureau is led by Lemuel M. Srolovic.  Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice is Alvin Bragg and First Deputy for Affirmative Litigation is Janet Sabel.