STATUS: In progress with opposition
OPPOSITION: No New Coal for Georgia; Sierra Club; Friends of Chattahoochee; Clean Energy for Georgia
PROSPECTS: Prolonged delay
BACKGROUND: In March 2007, Longleaf Energy Associates, a subsidiary of LS Power, proposed construction of a 1200 megawatt pulverized coal-fired power plant along the Chattahoochee River in Early County, GA. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division (EPD) approved construction of the plant in May, and granted an air permit. The estimated construction cost is $2 billion.
Environmental groups immediately targeted the project as part of their strategic, nationwide effort to block development of all coal-fired power plants. These groups used the Longleaf plant to test the legal theory that the US Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA that CO2 is a Clean Air Act “pollutant” mandated CO2 controls in state permits. An administrative law judge upheld the permit in January 2008. The environmentalists then appealed to Fulton County Superior Court, asked for the permit to be invalidated due to CO2 emissions, and obtained a favorable ruling from the trial judge. The case was immediately appealed, and the appellate court reversed the trial judge’s ruling but remanded the permit to EPD for modifications unrelated to the environmentalists CO2 claims. The Georgia Supreme court refused to hear the case.
EPD rewrote the permit, and the environmentalists sued again on May 9, 2010. EPD voluntarily withdrew the revised permit to provide additional public notice and comment. Opponents now claim construction will lead to water pollution, air pollution, and human diseases. On November 8, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division issued the final amended air permit, which classifies the proposed plant as a minor source of hazardous air pollutants and extends the construction schedule. Appeals, which must be filed by December 8, are nearly certain.
LAST UPDATED: November 11, 2010