Filing seeks to overturn coal-ash order

Posted: February 9, 2018 at 1:44 a.m.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, national coal industry interests, 18 states including Arkansas and more than a dozen other groups are urging an appeals court to overturn a coal-ash cleanup order at a federal utility's Tennessee plant, contending the decision will have wide-reaching, expensive consequences.

In a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals brief this week, the states argued that the order at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Gallatin Fossil Plant would broadly expand federal oversight into groundwater pollution historically regulated by states. More citizen lawsuits will almost certainly be filed and they will require coal-ash cleanups elsewhere, costing utility ratepayers tens of billions of dollars, attorneys for the states wrote.

"Reasonable minds can differ among stakeholders as to the most prudent long-term plans for these impoundments, and under cooperative federalism every stakeholder has an opportunity in the process to voice those concerns," the court filing says. "If upheld, customers across the Circuit will be paying for the preference of those citizens who have strong opinions regarding environmental issues -- not what the most reasonable outcome should be."

In August, a judge ordered coal ash to be excavated and removed at Gallatin, about 40 miles from Nashville. He cited Clean Water Act violations of pollutants leaking into the Cumberland River but said there's scant evidence of harm done by the pollution so far.

Other states that filed a legal brief are Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Business on 02/09/2018