SWEPCO coal plant appeal before 8th Circuit | Arkansas Blog

SWEPCO coal plant appeal before 8th Circuit



The Sierra Club reports on oral arguments today before the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on SWEPCO's appeal of a partial injunction against construction of the coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County.


Today, a three-judge panel of the United States 8th Circuit Court of
Appeals heard oral arguments on whether to uphold a decision that halted construction on eight acres of wetlands and the water intake structure for the Turk coal-fired power plant proposal in southwestern Arkansas. The case was brought on appeal from the decision by United States District Court Judge Bill Wilson, Jr., who halted the construction on October 27, 2010.

Lev Guter, Associate Field Organizer with the Sierra Club, stated, “Halting construction was the right decision for Arkansas because our public health is not something with which coal companies should gamble. The dirty Turk plant would damage our air and water resources by contaminating them with toxins, such as mercury and soot. Our health and quality of life is not for sale. We are confident that the 8th Circuit will uphold the injunction and continue to protect Arkansas.”

Last year, Sierra Club, Audubon and the Hempstead County Hunting Club sought an injunction to stop Southwestern Electric Power Company’s construction of the proposed John W. Turk 600 MW coal-fired plant in Hempstead County. Judge Bill Wilson who presided over those proceedings granted a partial injunction, and that decision was appealed by SWEPCO to the 8th Circuit. The US Army Corps of Engineers, also a party before Judge Wilson, did not choose to join the appeal. Sierra Club and Audubon are represented by Richard H. Mays of Mays & White law firm of Heber Springs.

Richard Mays stated, “The Court of Appeals Panel listened intently, asked probing questions and indicated it would render a decision as promptly as possible. We believe our side of the argument went well and we are optimistic that the Court will continue the injunction.”

The plant, already under construction, would cost more than $2 billion as well as contribute to climate change through releasing millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Turk’s construction would not only destroy eight acres of highly ecologically valuable wetlands, but would also fill in 8,150 feet of stream.

Ellen Fennell, Interim Director for Audubon Arkansas, stated, “Clearly, endangered species will be affected by both the construction of proposed transmission lines and the water intake structure that have been halted by Judge Wilson’s preliminary injunction. We are confident that the court will affirm the importance of protecting the environment and to adhering to the laws of this land.”

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