Luminant gets reprieve from judges
In a surprise move Friday, two days before a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule targeting burning of lignite coal was to go into effect, a threejudge federal panel issued a “stay,” and will decide on the rule’s legality later this year.
Luminant—which employs about 400 persons at Sandow Power Units 4 and 5 and the Three Oaks Mine—and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers were two of more than three dozen entities who challenged the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in court.
“Petitioners have satisfied the standards required for a stay, pending court review,” Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Thomas Griffith and Janice Rogers Brown of the U. S. Appeals Court in Washington, D. C. said.
A ruling on overall legality may be handed down as soon as April.
REPRIEVE—Luminant, which had planned to shut down two power plant units at Monticello in East Texas by Sunday as a result of the new EPA rule, issued a statement Friday saying those units would remain open.
“Today’s decision allows valued employees across our system to continue working on important generation, mining and other operations,” Luminant said.
Luminant had earlier said the new rule would not affect Sandow 4 and 5, and Sandow 4 was targeted as part of a systemwide $280-million upgrade for 2012.
Sandow Unit 4 turned 30 years old during 2011.
‘SIGNIFICANT’—Luminant cautioned that Friday’s decision did not overturn the EPA rule but a lobbyist who represents coal-fired power plants said postponement of regulations are allowed when there’s a strong chance of success the challenges will succeed.
“Stays are hard to come by in the world of clean air litigation, which makes the stay of the cross-state rule all the more significant,” Scott Segal said.
Friday’s judicial ruling does not affect recently-announced new mercury emissions regulations by the EPA, another issue which is being studied by Luminant and might ultimately impact Sandow units 4 and 5.