White Stallion appeal denied
Jan. 10, 2012 at 1:10 a.m.
The Texas Supreme Court denied a request by White Stallion Energy Center to overrule a lower court's decision to send back the air pollution permit to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The ruling made on Dec. 30 upheld 126th District Court Judge Lora Longoria's opinion. Longoria stated the site plan approved by the commission was not the plan White Stallion intended to implement.
The hearing - the result of a request from the Environmental Defense Fund - argued that significant changes from how the site would be constructed and run - made during the application process - created too much uncertainty regarding expected levels of toxic air pollution from the proposed coal plant, according to a statement released by the Sierra Club.
"White Stallion will drain our precious water resources, pollute our air and do so at great expense to Bay City residents. Instead of spending more money to go back to square one, White Stallion should cancel the plant proposal or plan instead for clean energy generation in our area," said Allison Sliva, of Bay City, and chairperson for the No Coal Coalition.
The project site is a 1,200-acre tract, located on the east side of the Colorado River, about 10 miles south of Bay City.
The energy center would produce enough electricity to supply 650,000 homes throughout the South Texas region. It also would provide a lower-cost alternative to natural gas fired generation in Texas and at significantly reduced costs versus all popular possible technology alternatives, said Bird.
The national groups opposing all coal power projects, regardless of merit, continue their "say anything, sue anything" approach to White Stallion, said Randy Bird, chief operating officer for White Stallion.
"Little of what they say about a Texas Supreme Court ruling is correct, starting with its date of issuance. The ruling issued almost a month ago, and - contrary to the implications of the opposition release - said nothing about the merits of the parties' positions, Bird said. "Rather, consistent with recent Supreme Court rulings limiting the use of so-called mandamus proceedings to expedite review of particular issues, the court's ruling simply preserved for later appeals the specific issue raised by TCEQ and White Stallion."
Bird said the petitions filed by the TCEQ and White Stallion sought expedited review of the district's court decision to ask TCEQ whether it wished to consider project plans other than the ones submitted by the permit applicant.
"TCEQ, which already has made clear that it issues permits for the projects for which applications are filed, will have the opportunity to confirm that position," Bird said.
The permit that the TCEQ issues remains valid, he added.
However, White Stallion may face a few hurdles in the future because the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed adding Matagorda County to the list of non-attainment status under the Clean Air Act.
"White Stallion would nearly quadruple Matagorda County's smog emissions, and would further impact the county's ability to meet public health standards," the Sierra Club wrote in a statement.