Ameren suffers loss at Missouri Supreme Court on Labadie ash landfill

The Missouri Supreme Court on Feb. 3 sent a dispute about the zoning for a new coal ash disposal area at Ameren‘s (NYSE: AEE) Labadie power plant back to a lower court for further work.

Several individuals and the Labadie Environmental Organization had filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the circuit court challenging the legality of the Franklin County Commission’s adoption of zoning amendments allowing Union Electric d/b/a Ameren Missouri to build a coal-ash landfill at its Labadie power plant. The circuit court ruled in favor of the commission and Ameren.

The appellants raised two points on appeal. They argued that the circuit court erred by dismissing Count I of their petition, which alleged that the commission failed to conduct a legally sufficient hearing prior to adopting the zoning amendments allowing coal-ash landfills. Second, they argued that the circuit court erred in entering judgment in favor of the commission and Ameren on Count II, which alleged that the zoning amendments are invalid for failing to promote public health, safety, and welfare.

“This Court holds that the circuit court erred in dismissing Count I of Appellants’ petition asserting that the commission failed to conduct a legally sufficient hearing prior to adopting the zoning amendments,” said the Feb. 3 Supreme Court ruling. “Consequently, it is unnecessary to determine whether the zoning amendments promote public health, safety and welfare because the circuit court must first determine whether the commission conducted a legally sufficient hearing. The circuit court’s judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.”

The high court added: “Assuming the truth of Appellants’ allegations, and construing the petition broadly, Appellants have stated a viable claim that the zoning amendments were enacted without a legally sufficient public hearing. The commission adopted the challenged zoning amendments for the specific purpose of allowing Ameren to locate a new coal-ash landfill on its property adjacent to its Labadie power plant. Nevertheless, according to Appellants’ allegations, the commission prevented the public from discussing Ameren’s proposed landfill at the hearings.”

Labadie is a 2,407-MW plant located in Franklin County, Mo., that began operation in 1970.