Georgia SC declines to hear power plant case

Kathy Woods Oct. 5, 2009, 1:33pm

ATLANTA, Ga. (Legal Newsline)-The Georgia Supreme Court has declined to hear environmental groups' appeal of a planned coal-fired power plant's permit approvals.

Longleaf Energy Station was given five out of six permits by the court of appeals for their $2 billion project. More than 30 environmentalist groups sued to stop the project.

Justine Thompson, executive director of Greenlaw said: "It's amazing that, with 30 organizations representing tens of thousands of people weighing in with the Supreme Court discussing how important this case is...the Georgia Supreme Court declined to even consider the case."

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that the lower court's ruling on the air quality permit granted by the Georgia EPA was invalid and therefore reversed the decision.

The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the Superior Court on one key issue and that was that Judge Stephanie Howells was not independent in her evaluation of the EPA's decision to issue the permit.
Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings of Fulton County ruled the permit was invalid in June 2008.

If the plant ever gets permission to go ahead, it will be the first coal burning power plant in Georgia in more than 20 years. LS Power Development has plans to build four such plants across the nation.

The plaintiffs groups argue that coal-fired plants are a leading cause of smog, acid rain and global warming. And that Georgia has no use for the plant.

President of Friends of the Chattahoochee, Bobby McLendon said: "Many people in Early County do not believe that this plant is needed to meet any short-term energy demand in our region, or even in our state, and we hope that the business and civic leaders of Georgia will begin to put more emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy in the future."

Thompson had said prior to the Supreme Court's decision "We are extremely pleased that the Court of Appeals has required independent review of the errors that were made in the permitting of this plant. However, we are very disappointed that the court rejected other important claims that are crucial to the protection of public health. We feel confident that the Georgia Supreme Court will reverse on appeal."

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