|Updated: 9/22/2010 8:46 am
||Published: 9/21/2010 4:57 pm
The construction of a coal-fired power plant in southwest Arkansas jeopardizes one of the state's most sensitive eco-systems according to testimony at a federal court hearing Tuesday afternoon, contesting air and water permits for the SWEPCO plant under construction.
It's not a trial, but this hearing is expected to last up to 3 days and a lot is riding on this hearing at federal court.
The president of the Audubon Society describing the plant in court said, "This power plant isn't a convenience store, its a project of immense proportion that's already disrupting habitats of Southwest Arkansas."
In the courtroom was more than a dozen attorneys with boxes, diagrams and charts, all for SWEPCO's power plant under construction in Southwest Arkansas.
The Audobon Society, Sierra Club, and private landowners in Hempstead County are challenging SWEPCO's air and water permits.
"We need to move to protect our air and water quality and move beyond coal to a clean energy future," Lev Guter with Sierra Club says.
Attorneys for SWEPCO are not talking yet but saying in court the environmental impact on the wetland area near the 600-megawatt plant began even before construction started.
More than one-billion dollars has already been poured into the plant's construction that just over one-third complete, with its future to provide electricity in doubt.
SWEPCO already said they're no longer going to produce electricity for its customers for Arkansas, because it lost its permit that shows the need for more power.
That's the real grind for the plaintiffs. They feel SWEPCO will build the plant and Arkansas will be left footing the bill for the environmental impact.