Judge Rules For Local Power Plant Owners In Environmental Suit

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FREESTONE COUNTY (February 27, 2014) U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith, Jr., on Wednesday, agreed with lawyers for Luminent Generation Co. and Energy Future Holdings Corp., that attorneys for the Sierra Club had not proved their case in an environmental lawsuit against Big Brown Steam Electric Station near Fairfield and ruled against the plaintiffs.

Sierra Club, in an original lawsuit that began in October 2011 alleged that the plant had violated rules in the federal Clean Air Act.

Smith, however, ruled Wednesday that evidence presented in the bench trial failed to prove those allegations, decided for the defendants and ended the suit.

Sierera Club’s lawyers can appeal Smith’s decision to a U.S. circuit court.

Big Brown consists of two power generating units: unit 1 came online in 1971 and unit 2 in 1972, the company website profile shows.

The generators burn lignite coal, which is the source of the contamination, according to the Sierra Club lawsuit.

The Big Brown station generates 1,150 megawatts of electric power, enough to power about 575,000 homes in normal conditions and 230,000 homes in peak times, the company says.

In the lawsuit Sierra Club alleged the company has violated provisions of the act thousands of times, and those violations "adversely affected … sensitive populations such as people with asthma, the elderly, and children who are at elevated risk for deleterious health effects posed by emissions from coal-fired boilers."

Specifically the complaint says since 1996 the plant has violated the 20- and 30-percent particulate limit 20,867 times.

Smith, in his decision, found those allegations not supported by evidence.