Breaking News: Georgia judge blocks coal plant over CO2 emissions

The AP has the bombshell news. A judge has finally used the Supreme Court decision that carbon dioxide is a pollutant:

The construction of a coal-fired power plant in Georgia was halted Monday when a judge ruled that the plant’s builders must first obtain a permit from state regulators that limits the amount of carbon dioxide emissions.

The ruling, from Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore, is here [big PDF]. What did the judge find?

E&E News (subs req’d) explains:

Permit filings for the 1,200-megawatt Longleaf Energy Station coal plant, to be built by LS Power Group and Dynegy in Early County, Ga., did not include provisions detailing the plant’s CO2 emissions. Yet EPD permitted it anyway on grounds that while CO2 may be a pollutant, the gas was not subject to regulation under the act.
‘No question’ CO2 subject to regulation

Moore disagreed, saying the respondents’ position “is untenable.”

“There is no question that CO2 is subject to regulation under the act,” Moore wrote.

The judge also found that Georgia regulators failed to sufficiently consider best available control technology for the plant by allowing developers to forgo consideration of integrated gasification combined cycle technology that would have allowed for CO2 capture.

Kudos to the judge for bringing some climate sanity back into thecoal-plant permitting process.

More on the original Supreme Court decision here: “Bush Administration vs. Everyone Else.”

43 Responses to Breaking News: Georgia judge blocks coal plant over CO2 emissions

  1. Andy Bauer says:

    Excellent, About Time, Well Done Judge Moore. Here’s hoping this decision gets mimicked all around.

    It’s been a long time coming for the price of coal to reflect how nasty it is. This’ll do for a start.

  2. Tony G. says:

    No coal?


    Go Nuclear.

  3. David B. Benson says:

    Yes, well done, Judge Moore!

  4. Dano says:

    Shall we start a pool on when the judge will be demonized by FReepers? Death threats?



  5. Rick says:

    Tony G. Said on June 30th, 2008 at 8:06 pm:

    No coal?
    Go Nuclear.

    I hope you can afford the electricity. A singal nuke plant costed $12 Billion back in 2006. The costs of construction are expected to rise substantially with each year after 2006. Oh, and then there’s that pesky peak U235 thing. Turns out if you start to scale that up the number of plants built to anything substantial Uranium 235 will peak and go into irreversable decline in the not to distant future.

  6. Ken says:

    All the electric companies should get together and just shut down
    all power plants for about six months, maybey that would finally
    stop all this nonsense about nothing. These warmers sure are a bunch
    of morons! Their stupidity grows by the day.

  7. Joe says:

    Well-argued Ken!
    When you have some actual facts, let us know.

  8. Dano says:

    Geez, Ken, not even an hour. You blew out our pool. Perhaps, folks, we should move the time slots to minutes. After a couple more years of mounting evidence, perhaps we’ll have to move the time slots to seconds.

    Denialists: not bound by space, time, or physics.



  9. John Mashey says:

    re: troll ken

    I’d rather listen to a smart utility CEO like Peter Darbee, whose short talk at UN in Feb was quite good. He talks of decoupling and efficiency, and why these are good investments. I’ve heard him talk – highly recommended.

  10. Tony G. says:

    OK, Rick, so Nukes are too expensive.

    Andy wants coal to reflect its true cost, whatever that is.

    No nukes, no coal.

    I suppose the electrons your computer runs on comes from what, thin air?

    The electricity brownouts/blackouts that are coming (because we’re legislating it) are going to make the ones in Kalifornia look like a picnic.

    At any rate, my quality of life is going to suffer (i.e. no electricity) before solar, wind, or hippie on treadmills comes on line to replace the needed capacity.

    I can’t wait until remote-load shedding control is imposed by judges like above, so the utility can decide what appliances I get to run.

    It’s coming.

  11. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli is going to simply repost what he said in reply to your post on 450 ppm being roadkilled by high gas prices.

    “If markets/industry perceive that oil/gas costs will remain high, that shifts the issue from a political one to an economic one with the exception of coal. Investment will be driven to alternative sources of energy willy nilly. The risk, of course, is that coal use will grow, but higher energy prices will leave room for sequesterization.

    Imagine a world where the only political issue is whether to sequester CO2 emissions from coal burning power plants.”

    Everyone may now compliment me on being right

  12. Tony G. says:

    CO2 is now a pollutant.

    I exhale a pollutant. It’s in my living room right now.

    How long before other gasses are classified as such? Ooops, there’s some methane in here now.

    Carbon emissions will be used to restrict all manner of human activities, waay sooner than anyone thinks. England wants to charge tourists for the carbon they will burn while visiting. Glad I got my travelling out of the way before they keep the proles like me on the reservation.

    Interesting how the Goreacle can jet around and nobody talks about his emissions. I could go out to the shed and fire up the Hemi Barracuda, and not come close to one of his flight legs.

  13. hapa says:

    @eli: half a huzzah. the politicking you leave out is whether selling negawatts is a business business wants to be in. demand destruction goes against their instincts. with wildcatting for clean energy generation, there will be pressure against decoupling utilities, to ensure markets for the brand new energy barons as the coal debate extends from now to the sunday after the investment decisions needed to be made. we know the safer way to grow demand: destroy dirty supply. so maybe this is your politicks rippling outward.

  14. hapa says:

    @tony: try this. a glass is almost full of water. it is not making a mess. but you put more water in the glass and it spills. now it is making a mess. you can say nothing spilled because the water was in the glass before, without spilling; you can blame the glass, for overflowing, or the table, for getting wet; but you are still the one who caused the mess.

  15. John Mashey says:

    Did you read Peter Darbee’s comments yet? They’re only a few pages.

  16. Dano says:

    Ah, geez:

    Interesting how the Goreacle can jet around and nobody talks about his emissions.

    I call GoreWins Law* on this thread.



    * GoreWins Law — similar to Godwin’s Law: any further possibility reasoned debate essentially ends when a comparison to [Algore is fat!/Goreacle/Algore] is brought into the discussion.

  17. hapa says:

    @john mashey: didn’t. tend to skip notes to trolls. it is good. being a california person i sympathize heartily with the approach.

    * PG&E still thinking of renewables as large generators and so still pushing transmission in straight lines. not yet talking about smoothing and distributed generation in the same sentence, let alone regional or national HVDC backbone. i’m not sure i understand how local solar and cogeneration impact PG&E’s obligations.

    * i think what i said to eli stands. nationally, decoupling would be really good for utilities because they wouldn’t have to build new supply for years. just keep handing out lightbulbs, triple-pane windows, etc. but that’s a problem. we need them to shut down their dirty plants. without pressure to do that, companies coming in, wanting to build clean energy, would they find themselves lobbying against decoupling, in favor of greater subsidies for clean energy, so that the coal plants to stay in operation (at useful speed) and the costs to the utilities for new wind and solar supply are near the cost of destroying new demand with efficiency? you see what i’m saying? that’s a wreck. customer pays extra for zero real environmental improvement.

    the cost of burning coal and — oh right — the terrifying science — would be the determining factors? but if we’re actually trying to get rid of coal we need to cut demand steeper than its simple growth curve and cover the coal portion with clean supply.

    * the other thing that bugs the hell out of me about decoupling is the possibility for utilities to shrink local demand seriously and sell more of their fossil-generated power out-of-state, again displacing clean supply deployment. we really really really don’t want generators and retailers to be arguing against either large scale clean supply or a good grid on the grounds that efficiency and small (token) clean energy contracts meet their needs for the foreseeable future.

    * as usual darbee’s talking about double my expected 20-yr timeline for coal elimination so how does one read calls for investment and carbon pricing in such a document.

    * we really need some heroes here. some people to stand up and “no coal.” otherwise all this wonderful clean tech gets us price mitigation for fossil fuels but not a cure to the disease.

    (sending! not as good as i’d like.)

  18. paulm says:

    tony G ….my quality of life is going to suffer….
    Yes it is. As are most others.

    Basically we have to move to a sustainable society and to accept a lower material quality of life. This is going to happen whether we tackle climate change or not. I am sure you have started to notice the effects of peak oil by now. Fire up that Hemi (if you can afford to).

  19. Dennis says:

    Dano: The GoreWins law has been around for some time (under different names). I now preface any climate science discussion with a denier with a request that they not mention Al Gore or engage in any ad hominem attacks. Just stick to the discussion of peer reviewed research. I’m still trying to convince the deniers I know that CO2 absorbs infrared radiation. To them, even that is in dispute.

  20. Dano says:

    I now preface any climate science discussion with a denier with a request that they not mention Al Gore or engage in any ad hominem attacks.

    I honor your sacrifice Dennis. I don’t know how you can have a discussion with a denialist: the endless repetition of refuted arguments, the refusal to accept empirical evidence, the obvious twisting of logic and facts to validate a non-reality-based ideology…whew.

    What’s more interesting to me is what decision-makers say when confronted with a denialist.



  21. Bob Wallace says:

    IMHO it’s time for blogs to move to more sophisticated software.

    There should be an ability to troll-rate intentionally distruptive people and have their junk posts modified so that they don’t intrude into the conversation. (One could use the Digg format where they remain to be read via an extra click if someone wishes to but they are not posted on the main page.)

    I’ve watched active communities where issues were being discussed by knowledgeable members be destroyed by trolls. People just got tired of wading through the trash and quit participating.

  22. Tony G. says:

    I accept that I may have won the title of “troll”.

    My one mistake was to have invoked the name of the “one”

    I have, however, refrained from boorish behavior, and presented a viewpoint that I currently hold.

    It’s also a viewpoint others like me share.

    The view (not facts) currently shaping my stance are this:

    The debate is not over – for the majority on this site, I find that it is.

    I am willing to conceed that the climate is changing- I am still looking for further proof that it is caused solely by the activities of mankind.

    Even if it is, my social status currently allows me to make financial decisions based on necessity, vs other criteria – such as altruism.

    I see the majority of this GW movement as hairshirters who would have me “do as they say” by artificially increasing my costs ahead of a “predicted” catastrophe, through political processes, using willing idiots in government.

    Never mind the political figures who won’t lead by example. That would reduce them to irrelevance. Besides- the restrictions are for the unwashed masses.

    I’ll leave you all now. I’ve spent far too much time on my own blog favorites that echo the sentiments that I’ve brodcast here for evaluation.

    But I no longer get satisfaction from reading the dittoheads I normally frequent.

    In parting, refernce the poster above, who did agree that quality of life is going down. We’re not going to conserve our way out of this, decoupling, carbon taxes, cap and trade, ad nauseum. Restricting current power sources, dismissing nuclear, all leads to one thing- Managed Decline.

    That’s what Jimmy Carter espoused.

    Call me a denialist- I know you will. But name calling isn’t going to sway me. And when your efforts gain enough traction to inflict the pain on what’s left of the middle class, I believe the GW movement will start to lose some momentum.

    I’m all for moving to the next power source, but market forces, not politicians moved our society from animal power on up without activists forcing the issue. If you all succeed in stopping energy expansion, I sincerly hope it’s us humans changing the climate, because I’ll be pissed if this was just a feel-good exercise.


  23. paulm says:

    So we see the cracks appearing in the wall of denial.

    It does boil down to the public being unable to recognize the probabilities involved and the risk vs benefit analysis of the situation. (Also basically the addiction to the good life).

  24. Dano says:

    name calling isn’t going to sway me.

    Really, for the most part it doesn’t matter if folk that don’t want to be swayed are swayed. What is the fraction in any election of these folk? Not enough to win or lose with.

    As I said above, what’s more interesting to me is what decision-makers say when confronted with a denialist. They all have their answers down. They know the denialist fringe has self-marginalized, so when we see argumentation like this:

    And when your efforts gain enough traction to inflict the pain on what’s left of the middle class, I believe the GW movement will start to lose some momentum.

    This presumes that the denialist lobby’s lies can continue to hold sway. The (many) decision-makers I know aren’t betting the farm on this presumption, let me tell you.

    Trouble is, there is precious little leadership in this country, and leadership is what’s needed to turn the boat to a different course.



  25. bird says:

    Looks like the sunlight is going to have to substitute for these other means to create power. Who do I send a check to for my sunlight bill each month?

  26. Earl Killian says:

    Tony G said, “I see the majority of this GW movement as hairshirters…

    That is simply untrue, as I have pointed out to you before. There are some that believe we will have to accept lifestyle changes in response to GW, but there are solutions that can be deployed today (no research required). The problem is that the opposition keeps using FUD to prevent this deployment.

  27. Earl Killian says:

    Tony G says, “I am willing to conceed that the climate is changing- I am still looking for further proof that it is caused solely by the activities of mankind.

    Look at the records of fossil fuels extracted from the Earth, calculate the CO2 put into the atmosphere from burning those fuels, apply some basic physics, and you will find that this pretty much explains what has been going on. Fancy computer models pretty much exist to provide confidence that subtle effects aren’t changing the prediction that comes from pretty basic physics. Remember that the first CO2 warming calculation was published in 1896, long before computers.

  28. David B. Benson says:

    Dano — FReepers?

  29. Paul K says:

    Earl Killian,
    The problem is that the opposition keeps using FUD to prevent this deployment.
    I think it useful to distinguish between actions and policies that prevent or hinder deployment from those that merely do not promote or force deployment. For example, Bay Wind deployment was prevented by local tourism interests. Deployment is hindered in states that don’t have buy back laws. Neither of these is a result of FUD.

    In a perfect free market world, policies would be neutral, allowing rather than preventing or promoting deployment. In the real world, I think we agree that some policies that promote – tax breaks, subsidies and rebates – and force – mandatory utility alternative purchase – are desirable. If you can identify those policies that actually prevent deployment, we’d have a good basis for action.

    Also, I really would like to know more about the old coal plant problem. I have no desire to refute it, only to better understand it.

  30. Donald B says:

    To Tony G: You claim that you are not willing to act until the results of not acting are apparent — maybe when the oceans are three or more feet higher? — does that include “knowing” that AGHGs are responsible? What will it take to convince you?

    As a little experiment: When you are out driving on the highway and a sign says rockslide ahead, do you slow down or wait until you actually can see the rockslide? What if it is just around the corner and close enough that when you can finally see it, you have only 20 feet to stop (and you are still going the normal speed limit?

    The problem for the rest of the world is that in the case of AGHGs, they are in the car with you and most of them do not want to die in your car crash.

  31. Donald B says:

    To Tony G:

    The main reason that your predicted decline will come is that you are opposing all the ways to avoid it. If you don’t give the incentives (either positive tax incentives or even neutrals, where the playing field is leveled — no subsidies for oil, gas and coal) and the time (by starting yesterday) there will be a lack of supply to meet the demand which has not been decreased enough by conservation.

    Conservation does not by itself lead to a diminished life-style. How does sending energy up the flue in a house heated by an inefficient furnace or boiler add to one’s life-style? The cost of the efficient heating plant is upfront, but it is recouped over a few years with much lower heating costs — which otherwise will become exhorbitant with the rise in oil prices. Or are you one of the Republicans who are joining Democrats to denounce speculation as the cause of the rising oil prices? If it is speculation, where are the hoards of oil stored?

  32. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Tony G says:

    “I’m all for moving to the next power source,..”

    What new power sources? The only new power source to come about in recent times are nukes. To run modern cities, you need immense amounts of power generated nearby and at high densities. Unless you want to spend mega bucks on transmission lines as we do here in BC.

    Most all of power in BC is hydro yet about 80% of the people live in lower portion of the province. Get out a map of NA and count all the hydro dams on the Columbia and in the interior of BC. There is also an aluminium smelter in Kitimat where there is a large private hydro system for power.

    If you want to live electrical-power sin free, come to super natural, beautiful British Columbia. “The Best Place on Earth!”

    Until the really stupid gov placed carbon sin taxes on all the evil fossil fuels. Even on propane used for BBQ’s! Good Grief! Do these guys have a “Death Wish” or what?

    There is more CO2 pouring out the natural enviroment from dead and dying vegetation and animals than will be ever be produced by a mere 4 million humans.

  33. Dano says:

    David B:

    FreeRepublic-ers. FReep.

    Pierce asserts:

    come to super natural, beautiful British Columbia. “The Best Place on Earth!”

    Indeed. Two autumns ago I did an extended backpacking trip in Cathedral Prov’l Park. Lovely and the larch were in full color.

    On the drive to and from Burnaby we got to enjoy the millions of hectares of beetle-killed trees and the bleak landscape upon which they used to stand. Beetle-kill exacerbated by man-made climate change and fire suppression, of course.

    And the trees – wasted as the US complained about BC “flooding the market” with lumber. Now they are in the Colo Front Range and high country, and many forest scientists are saying the lodgepole will be gone within a decade, and Engelmann spruce following. Hopefully your country is more enlightened than ours wrt use of wood (I know I’ve got some blue stain cabinetry making in my future).

    Anyway, man-made climate change will have many consequences, some of them may be making hydro less useful from the increased siltation caused by dead forests.



  34. This is the kind of action we want to see in Australia too. That’s why this morning 27 Greenpeace activists locked down Australia’s most polluting coal-fired power station.

    Check it out:

  35. Paul K says:

    Isn’t Perth experiencing record cold ?

  36. Dale says:

    Peak Oil??? SO NUTS . . . known oil reserves 1975 – 250 Billion Barrels.
    Known oil reserves today . . . July 4/08 . . . 1.2 Trillion Barrels.
    20 Years from now oil and natural gas will still be the mail motivator of automobiles and heater of homes.
    CO2 – a non toxic, invisible and rare .03% of the atmosphere gas. A minor greenhouse gas, water vapout being 98% of greenhouse gasses. Why don’t we control water vapour?
    There is no science . . . or you would have presented it!!! Computer models are nonsense . . . . garbage in – garbage out!! See Hansen . . . wrong 20 years ago . . . wrong today!!!
    CO2 is .380 ppm . . . . when the dinosaures lived it was 7 to 8 thousand ppm. If CO2 doubled nothing would happen . . . except plants would grow faster . . .
    Most of the talking points of the GW nuts are lies . . . the Maliaria thing, the melting Antartic (gained 780,000 sq. kms. of ice last year), the polar bears have trippled in population the last 30 years. Al Bore is a fake, divinity school dropout, making millions selling carbon credits.
    Jacque Chirac was right when he said right after Kyoto, “Kyoto is the first step to Global Governance”.

  37. Dale says:

    The judge must be a lieberal . . . running on feelings . . . . CO2 has never been declared a pollutant . . . only in her feelbe mind . . . .

    The real facts . . . .
    If anything is untenable, however, it is Judge Moore’s misreading of the Supreme Court’s decision. The Court did not, in fact, rule that CO2 was an air pollutant that must be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
    The Court wrote that, “we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of [greenhouse] gases from new motor vehicles.”
    So the Court only ruled that the EPA may regulate CO2, not that CO2 is an “air pollutant” for purposes of the Clean Air Act.
    Although the 5-4, Justice Stevens-penned decision bloviated a great deal about carbon dioxide causing global warming, in legal parlance this is known as “dicta,” a sort of judicial editorializing. The Court’s decision and legal significance was strictly limited to the majority’s disapproval of the EPA’s process for declining to regulate CO2.
    “In short, EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change. Its action was therefore ‘arbitrary, capricious… otherwise not in accordance with the law… We need not and do not reach the question whether on remand the EPA must make an endangerment funding… We only hold that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute,” the Court concluded.
    Judge Moore, unfortunately, based her decision on the Court’s non-legally binding musings about CO2 rather than the Court’s actual ruling.
    Building on her gross misapplication of the law, Judge Moore went on to essentially impose an impossible-to-meet technology standard on the proposed plant.

    Fact is the Judge is making it up as she goes along . . . GW, which has now become climate change, or weather is turning out to be the biggest fraud since the Ice Age scare in 1975. Then of course there was global warming in 1932 and another ice age at the turn of the 20th century. We have all seen this movie before, it is about extracting wealth from our pockets . . . nothing more!!!

  38. Jay Alt says:

    dale – I think it wise you haven’t pursued a legal career. The EPA is required by law to write and then enforce regulations for substances that are harmful to our health and welfare.

  39. David B. Benson says:

    Dale — You could bother to actually learn something about climatology:

    instead of simply repeating the drivel someone fed you.

    But you won’t, will you?

  40. srinivasarao says:

    CO2 gas is dangers to health
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  41. srinivasarao says:

    CO2 gas is useful to plants
    Alabama Drug Addiction

  42. thank you good post