BOISE, Idaho (AP) — J.R. Simplot Co. has agreed to pay a $900,000 fine and spend about $42 million on pollution controls to cut sulfur dioxide emissions at five fertilizer plants in three states.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice announced the agreement Thursday with the Idaho-based company. The plants are in the eastern Idaho city of Pocatello, the central California city at Lathrop, and in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Federal officials say the settlement will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions at the plants by more than 50 percent. Officials say the company made modifications to the plants without obtaining clean air permits.

The EPA says short-term sulfur dioxide emissions can cause serious respiratory problems and worsen asthma. A Simplot spokesman says the company believes it had the necessary permits for the fertilizer plants but opted to settle to avoid litigation.