Utah justices deal setback to proposed power plant

Chris Rizo Dec. 10, 2009, 3:00am

Christine Durham

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline)-The Utah Supreme Court has thrown up roadblocks to a proposed 270-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Sigurd.

The state's high court is asking Sevier Power Co. to update its 2004 pollution permit for the $600 million plant, forcing the company to ensure that it would be using the cleanest possible technology.

The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club and two Sevier County retirees, firefighter Jim Kennon and boat-designer Dick Cumiskey, sued to block the coal-fired, circulating fluidized bed power plant.

The justices ruled last week that Sevier Power Co. and state officials incorrectly calculated allowable nitrous oxide emissions in the central Utah project's permit.

"We reverse and remand to the Division to conduct a new review," the hight court ruled. "This review must ensure that the approval order encompasses the most current control technology and must assign a reasonable deadline for the construction of the Power Company's facility that avoids tying up the (prevention of significant deterioration) increments longer than necessary."

The court's ruling was written by Chief Justice Christine Durham.

In October 2004, the executive secretary for the Utah Air Quality Board and director of the Division of Air Quality, Richard Sprott, issued an approval order to the Sevier Power Company to build the power plant.

The Sierra Club challenged the approval, arguing that the approval order was invalid because it failed to comply with the Clean Air Act, the Utah Air Conservation Act and various provisions of the Utah Administrative Code.

Among other points, the Sierra Club argued that the Division of Air Quality failed to evaluate the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in its analysis.

The case is Sierra Club v. Air Quality Board, No. 20080113.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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