Georgia judge rules to halt construction
of coal-fired power plant
Jun 30, 2008 - Greg Bluestein - The Associated
ATLANTA (AP) -- The construction of a coal-fired
power plant in Georgia was halted Monday when a judge ruled
that the plant's builders must first obtain a permit from
state regulators that limits the amount of carbon dioxide
The judge's decision overturned a ruling that
allowed the construction of the $2 billion Longleaf Energy
Plant, which would become Georgia's first new coal-fired
plant in more than two decades.
Environmentalists said the decision marks
the first time that a judge has applied a U.S. Supreme Court
finding that carbon dioxide is a pollutant to emissions
from an industrial source. The court's April 2007 decision
required the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate
carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas most blamed for global
"We will be taking this decision and making
the same arguments to push for an end to conventional coal,"
said Bruce Nilles, who oversees the Sierra Club's National
The plant's developers, LS Power and Dynegy
Inc., were reviewing the ruling and did not have an immediate
At a June 3 hearing, lawyers representing
state regulators and plant developers said there was no
federal standard yet to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,
and warned that a ruling to regulate the gas would "short-circuit"
legislators' work to develop new rules.
The plant is expected to create more than
100 full-time jobs and give millions of dollars in tax revenues
to Early County, where almost a quarter of the 12,000 residents
live in poverty. It would power more than a half-million
homes through utilities in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
Each year it would emit as much as 9 million
tons of carbon dioxide, worrying critics who say it could
cause health problems in a county that already suffers above-average
Nilles said he and other environmental attorneys
are now preparing similar arguments to delay about 30 coal
plants now in active litigation. "The issue is now teed
up from Nevada to North and South Carolina," he said.
The decision will force state regulators to
reconsider coal-fired power plants and could push state
regulators toward cleaner and more efficient energy, said
Patti Durand, director of the Sierra Club's Georgia chapter.
"It's a scandal that energy companies are
still trying to build coal plants even though they cause
global warming," she said. "I can't be more thrilled. It's
a huge ruling. This is a new day in the United States, and