From Max's post on this subject earlier:
The state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission this morning denied a request from the Sierra Club and Audubon Arkansas to stop construction on American Electric Power's coal-fired plant in Hempstead County during court appeals.
The Arkansas Court of Appeals recently overturned the Public Service Commission approval of the plant. Surprise: Two PC&E members voted for the stay, Commissioners John Chamberlin of Little Rock and Scott Henderson, state Game and Fish director. Probably worth noting: Chamberlin was named to the Commission in April by Gov. Beebe to succeed Tom Schueck, who would have been on the other side.
Ken Smith, director of Audubon Arkansas, said the decision was not a surprise and that he did not consider it a set back. Many came out in support of the plant including workers, a superintendent from a nearby school and the mayor of Hope, along with reps from other near-by cities. Proponents of the plant said economics was the key factor as the plant now employees over 940 workers. Attorneys for the Sierra Club and Audubon stressed that the prudence of continued construction on a plant hindered by appeals should be considered. SWEPCO attorneys argued that was not the case.
Of course, that has been SWEPCO's plan from the beginning - continue to build the plant no matter what appeals or legal challenges are thrown in the way and get to a point where local economies and hundreds of jobs are at stake. That will make it difficult to halt construction, and it looks like that strategy is working. Smith said it was curious how big of a role economics played in today's hearing when the focus should be on the environment.
"It's interesting to note that environmental issues were more of an issue before the Public Service Commission than they have been for the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission. It seems like we've got our priorities a little backwards," Smith said.