EPA rule at issue in TVA power plant litigation

By Manuel Quiñones | 03/13/2015 01:01 PM EDT

The Kentucky Coal Association and other plaintiffs want the Tennessee Valley Authority to put off shutting down two coal-fired power generation units at its Paradise plant in western Kentucky.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley in Owensboro upheld TVA’s decision to burn less coal and more natural gas at Paradise (E&ENews PM, Feb. 9).

But KCA is appealing the decision with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and is asking the courts to block the federally backed utility’s plans pending a resolution.


KCA’s main contention has been that TVA did not conduct enough environmental review prior to its determination under the National Environmental Policy Act.

"Plaintiffs respectfully state they are likely to prevail on the merits of their appeal that the TVA did not act in accordance with the statutory requirements of NEPA or the TVA Act in making its decision regarding the Paradise facility," said a KCA filing.

TVA rebutted KCA’s claim that it was likely to prevail on appeal, according to a filing earlier this month. The utility also said fuel transition delays would jeopardize TVA’s ability to comply with U.S. EPA’s new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule.

"Plaintiffs note that the MATS rule has been challenged and is currently on review before the Supreme Court," it said. "That fact does not affect TVA’s duty to make plans to comply with it."

The industry’s lawsuit followed a complaint by environmentalists who wanted TVA to scrap pollution upgrades at its Gallatin plants and instead move away from coal. A judge rejected that suit, too.

This week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said that almost 13 gigawatts of coal-fired power generation would retire in 2015, in many cases due to the MATS rule.