Coal plant debate heats up
|Updated: 12/16/2008 8:15 am
||Published: 12/15/2008 2:43 pm
The battle between environmental groups and SWEPCO over construction of a billion dollar coal fired power plant near Fulton is entering a new round.
"I'm the one hearing this, ya'll better be very clear in what you're trying to accomplish," said Judge Michael O'Malley. Throughout the hearing he ordered both sides to keep it moving. “I don't want you to burn the record."
But agreeing on a trial date wasn't easy. Earlier this month, dozens of plant workers drove from Fulton to plead with environmental regulators to allow work to resume on the plant. "I don't know what I'll do if I lose this job," said Nathaniel Burk.
"It's Christmas. What kind of future will we have without it," said Billy Joe Francis.
SWEPCO won that round but Ilan Levin, who represents the environmental groups, is not giving up. "Toxics like mercury, arsenic, cyanide, it gets spewed into the air in Hempstead County and beyond," he said.
While environmental groups argued that the plant is dangerous and unclean, SWEPCO's attorneys disagree and say not only is their plant clean, it has met all health regulations.
A pre-trial hearing is set for March 6. On March 9 the trial will begin. The main decision that will come out is whether an air permit should have been granted to SWEPCO in the first place. Work can continue on the plant while the appeal is pending.
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