Article

Groups sue over coal plant order: Texas environmental organizations say governor’s action illegal, unconstitutional

Four Texas environmental organizations are suing Gov. Rick Perry over his order to fast-track permitting for proposed power plant projects, alleging the actions are illegal and unconstitutional. TXU Corp. has proposed to build several new coal-powered plants in Texas, and its $10 billion plans in the state include expansion at TXU’s Monticello power station in Mount Pleasant, Texas. The company wants to add a 858-megawatt electric generating unit at the plant which would use coal and lignite. The lawsuit, filed this past week in Travis County state district court, was initiated by four groups, including East Texas Environmental Concerns. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges it’s unconstitutional for Perry to manage the way the State Office of Administrative Hearings conducts hearings. SOAH is now considering TXU’s application after a draft air permit was issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in October...............Ted Royer, spokesman for Perry, disputed the illegality of Perry’s fast-track plan. “It is yet another unfortunate attempt by these groups to turn Texas into California when it comes to generating the power we need. If these groups have their way, a few decades from now Texans will flip a light switch and nothing will happen,” said Royer. “The fact is we are one of the fastest growing states in America and our population will double to 40 million people in the next few decades and that creates a huge demand for energy.” Royer said Perry’s strategy is to address that “coming crisis” through investing in such things as wind energy and clean energy sources and by encouraging conservation and building new plants. He said Perry’s order didn’t lower standards or regulations the new Texas power plants would have to meet.

Four Texas environmental organizations are suing Gov. Rick Perry over his order to fast-track permitting for proposed power plant projects, alleging the actions are illegal and unconstitutional.

TXU Corp. has proposed to build several new coal-powered plants in Texas, and its $10 billion plans in the state include expansion at TXU’s Monticello power station in Mount Pleasant, Texas. The company wants to add a 858-megawatt electric generating unit at the plant which would use coal and lignite.

The lawsuit, filed this past week in Travis County state district court, was initiated by four groups, including East Texas Environmental Concerns.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges it’s unconstitutional for Perry to manage the way the State Office of Administrative Hearings conducts hearings. SOAH is now considering TXU’s application after a draft air permit was issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in October.

According to Cathleen Parsley, SOAH’s general counsel, six pending TXU applications have been consolidated for the purposes of a Feb. 21 hearing.

Environmental groups are critical of that consolidation, as well as the “inadequate time” to prepare for the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Four Texas environmental organizations are suing Gov. Rick Perry over his order to fast-track permitting for proposed power plant projects, alleging the actions are illegal and unconstitutional.

TXU Corp. has proposed to build several new coal-powered plants in Texas, and its $10 billion plans in the state include expansion at TXU’s Monticello power station in Mount Pleasant, Texas. The company wants to add a 858-megawatt electric generating unit at the plant which would use coal and lignite.

The lawsuit, filed this past week in Travis County state district court, was initiated by four groups, including East Texas Environmental Concerns.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges it’s unconstitutional for Perry to manage the way the State Office of Administrative Hearings conducts hearings. SOAH is now considering TXU’s application after a draft air permit was issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in October.

According to Cathleen Parsley, SOAH’s general counsel, six pending TXU applications have been consolidated for the purposes of a Feb. 21 hearing.

Environmental groups are critical of that consolidation, as well as the “inadequate time” to prepare for the February hearing, according to a statement from Margaret Rands, ETECO president.

“It is difficult, if not impossible, to meet the deadlines for one plant. Combining six cases further exacerbates these problems because materials for multiple cases must be reviewed, analyzed, and evaluated. Combining cases also sets up a one size fits all expectation for the permits and is unlikely to address the individual settings and impacts of each proposed power plant,” said Rands.

Ted Royer, spokesman for Perry, disputed the illegality of Perry’s fast-track plan.

“It is yet another unfortunate attempt by these groups to turn Texas into California when it comes to generating the power we need. If these groups have their way, a few decades from now Texans will flip a light switch and nothing will happen,” said Royer. “The fact is we are one of the fastest growing states in America and our population will double to 40 million people in the next few decades and that creates a huge demand for energy.”

Royer said Perry’s strategy is to address that “coming crisis” through investing in such things as wind energy and clean energy sources and by encouraging conservation and building new plants.

He said Perry’s order didn’t lower standards or regulations the new Texas power plants would have to meet.

“It merely cut the bureaucratic red tape out of the permitting process,” said Royer.

Jim Blackburn, a plaintiffs attorney, said the plants could “seriously damage the public health of citizens in many different parts of Texas and Oklahoma.”

“By filing this action, we are seeking to have this illegal act by the Governor stopped and have due process restored to the review of these power plants. These plants collectively pose a grave risk to Texas public health,” alleged Blackburn in a statement.

TXU officials have said the company plans to reduce its total emissions by 20 percent. Plans include retrofitting units at existing plants in Texas and also reducing mercury emissions.

TXU officials announced plans in April, saying population growth and increasing demand necessitated construction of 11 new power plant projects.

Parsley said the SOAH hearing Feb. 21 is a public hearing discussing the merits of TXU’s application.

Once administrative law judges at SOAH issue a proposal for decision, parties will have the right to file exceptions and responses. Ultimately, it will then head back to TCEQ for a final decision.

In addition to ETECO, groups filing the lawsuit are Citizens Organizing for Resources and Environment, Texans Protecting our Water Environment and Resources and Citizens for Environmental Clean-up


Source: http://www.texarkanagazette...

JAN 21 2007
http://www.windaction.org/posts/6920-groups-sue-over-coal-plant-order-texas-environmental-organizations-say-governor-s-action-illegal-unconstitutional
back to top