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Court Allows Power Plant To Operate

Publication Date: 
August 16, 2011
Source: 
Daily Journal
Author: 
Fiona Smith

Professor Deborah Sivas spoke to Fiona Smith of the Daily Journal about how a state Supreme Court ruling allowing a natural gas power plant on the coast near Monterey to operate, despite environmentalists' concerns, could harm groups trying to challenge state action.

The state Supreme Court ruled Monday that a natural gas power plant on the coast near Monterey can operate, despite environmentalists' concerns that the facility is harming a delicate ecosystem.

In a unanimous opinion, the court held that state regulators properly used a cost-benefit analysis under the federal Clean Water Act when weighing what sort of cooling system the plant should use.

The nonprofit Voices of the Wetlands sued the state, arguing that the plant - next to the ecologically significant wetland Elkhorn Slough - is killing fish and damaging coastal habitat by sucking in huge amounts of ocean water in a controversial and widespread process called "once-through-cooling."

...

Deborah Sivas, a professor at Stanford Law School who represented Voices of the Wetlands in the case, said the procedural ruling could harm groups trying to challenge state action.

"You don't get a finality of decision," Sivas said. "The agency can keep adding evidence until the court is satisfied instead of doing a whole new process where everyone gets to weigh in."