Sierra Club says judge ready to rule against Las Brisas permit

On May 14, Texas District Court Judge Stephen Yelenosky issued a letter announcing his intended adverse ruling in a lawsuit seeking to reverse an air pollution permit authorizing the 1,320-MW Las Brisas Energy Center, said the Sierra Club in a May 15 statement.

The air permit would allow new emissions of toxic pollutants into the air in Corpus Christi, near schools and residential neighborhoods. The Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the local Clean Economy Coalition, and a coalition of Texas cities joined forces in 2009 to challenge the $3.2bn plant’s air permit, arguing that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) cut corners and failed to meet several federal Clean Air Act requirements.

Environmental Integrity Project attorney Erin Fonken, representing the Sierra Club in the lawsuit, said May 15: “The court has announced that it intends to rule against the TCEQ because, in issuing the permit, TCEQ committed a number of critical legal errors. Among the legal errors are TCEQ’s failure to require the new power plant to comply with the Clean Air Act’s protective air toxics standards and the failure to adequately account for the millions of tons to petroleum coke that will be dumped and piled on site before it is burned in the power plant’s main boilers.”

The Sierra Club said the Court’s announcement is the latest in a string of legal setbacks for the proposed power plant. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering a separate permit application for the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that permit will also need to be issued before the plant developer can start construction, the club said.

A Las Brisas Energy Center spokesman was unavailable for comment May 15. The plant would use fluidized-bed combustion technology to burn petroleum coke from refineries in the region.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.