A long-awaited ruling in the multi-pronged appeal of the Cliffside power plant’s air pollution permit was issued yesterday.
Duke Energy and the Perdue Administration tried to have the entire case by NC WARN and allies thrown out, but two big issues remain open and will move to full trial:
1) carbon dioxide emissions. In his order, state administrative law Judge J. Randall May wrote that “to foreclose the parties’ rights to litigate this timely claim, in this forum, would be to sidestep a vexing conundrum; therefore motions to dismiss [by Duke Energy and the NC DAQ] are DENIED.”
Therefore, recent advances by the EPA toward regulating greenhouse gas emissions will be very important in deciding the Cliffside permit.
2) A class of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) such as mercury will be addressed both in this state appeal proceeding, as well as in an ongoing federal lawsuit carried largely by our friends at SELC. Under pressure from SELC and a federal judge, Duke and the state claim they “recalculated” emissions to be 90% lower than earlier projected, and that Cliffside therefore qualifies as a “minor source” of HAPs.
Yesterday’s ruling spells more trouble for the Cliffside project, because the nation and federal authorities are belatedly coming to grips with the urgency of climate change, and the need to stop building coal-fired power plants.
Cliffside is destined to become the 99th US coal plant cancelled or postponed!