Despite Small Win in Courts, Path Remains Gloomy (and Lonely) for New Coal in Georgia

Posted on October 1, 2009 by

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Thanks to Thomas Wheatley

In July 2009, Greenlaw– representing the Georgia Sierra Club and Friends of the Chattahoochee, a citizens group fighting to stop air-pollution from the proposed Longleaf Energy facilitty, filed a petition , requesting that the Supreme Court review the July 7 decision of the Court of Appeals on the plant’s air pollution permit.  The Court of Appeals upheld the Fulton County Superior Court’s decision on a central issue, thus halting construction of the plant.  However, GreenLaw, was challenging the Appeals Court’s rejection of important claims about limits for fine particulate matter, carbon dioxide (CO2) and other hazardous pollutants.

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Today, the Georgia Supreme Court refused to hear these appeals.

“It is inconceivable that the Court would rule that the legal, economic, health, social justice and environmental issues posed by the proposed Longleaf coal-fired plant do not merit the attention of the Court,” Midge Sweet, campaign director of Georgians for Smart Energy, said in a statement. “This is a small setback in the grand scheme of things. We’re just going to take a deep breath — while we still can — and keep moving forward.”

“This fight for clean air is not over,” Mark Woodall, chair of the Sierra Club’s Georgia chapter, also said. “The path to stopping Longleaf is long and arduous, and we are committed to overcoming all barriers in the quest for clean air.”

Nonetheless, Longleaf Energy is still alone in their pursuit to build the coal-powered Longleaf energy facility, having not found funders to replace Dynegy, one of the energy companies that originally proposed the Longleaf plant but pulled out of all its new coal projects in January.

As well, four of ten Georgia EMC’s, under the banner Power4Georgians, have recently backed out of a “cleaner” coal power plant proposed in Washington County.

Bobby McLendon, president of Friends of the Chattahoochee, noted that “while this is a bad sign for those in Southwest Georgia who live near the plant, it’s equally bad for every Georgian because the court is signaling that it doesn’t care if citizens have clean air and water.”

Georgians call for end to new coal development outside State Capitol

Georgians call for end to new coal development outside State Capitol

With new climate legislation coming from the Senate today, and the increasing pressure on congress as a whole to pass comprehensive climate legislation, it seems that building new coal fired power plants is increasingly loosing rationale, and that the real solutions to meet our energy demand lay in strong investments in jobs creating energy efficiency and real renewable energy technologies like solar, wind, and geothermal.

Georgia groups though, like the more then 30 which submitted amicus breifs that urged the Georgia Supreme Court to hear arguments on the Longleaf case, aren’t giving up the fight for clean-air.  Across the state citizens are organizing “Citizen Family and Health Public Hearings” to communicate to the Georgia EPD that the mercury, Co2, and fine particulate emissions from new coal plants is unacceptable!

Justin Thompson, GreenLaw executive director, speaking on the legal options for the Longleaf energy facility, stated on Wednesday that GreenLaw could file a motion for the court to reconsider, or could take the case to the U.S. supreme court.

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