AK refusing to pay any finesBy Thomas Gnau, Journal
Business Writer, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
As long as AK Steel Corp. refuses to “pay any penalty,”
settlement of a state and federal lawsuit against the company “will
remain impossible,” Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director
Christopher Jones wrote in a letter dated Friday.
Ohio and federal governments are suing Middletown-based AK in
U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. The lawsuit is now in a discovery
phase and heading for a trial late this year or early next.
AK is balking at the idea of punitive fines resulting from that
lawsuit. It is pointing to that litigation, and the cost of new
federal air pollution control requirements, as part of a chain of
pressures that threaten about 1,000 jobs on the side of AK’s
Middletown Works, where steel is made.
“I remain disappointed that you continue to refuse to even
consider the payment of a cash penalty as a part of settling the
state’s claims against AK,” Jones wrote AK Chairman and Chief
Executive Richard Wardrop.
“In fact, it would appear that this is a step backwards since at
one point in the negotiations, between our lawyers, AK at least
expressed a willingness to pay a ‘nominal’ penalty as a part of
settlement,” Jones added in the letter.
A spokesman for Gov. Bob Taft has said that Jones had been trying
to arrange a meeting with Wardrop. Jones’ letter is presented as a
follow-up to a telephone conversation that the letter says Jones and
Wardrop had on June 19.
But OEPA spokeswoman Heather Lauer said that as long as AK takes
its current stance, “There’s no need for the meeting.”
In his letter, Jones extends an offer of $80 million in “low-cost
financing” for AK to install equipment meeting new federal “maximum
available control technology” guidelines against air pollution.
Integrated steelmakers like AK have less than three years to meet
the latest federal standards.
AK Vice President of Public Affairs Alan McCoy has said a
previous offer of financing entailed a deadline that the company
could not meet.
McCoy said Friday he had not seen Jones’ letter and could not