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Judge orders shutdowns of plant units

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A federal judge in Indianapolis has ordered the shutdown of three units at a Terre Haute coal-fired power plant because of clean air violations committed almost two decades ago.

In his 58-page ruling issued late Friday afternoon, U.S. Judge Larry McKinney in the Southern District of Indiana ruled that Duke Energy - which bought out Cinergy Corp. in 2006 - has to close three units by Sept. 30.

This is the latest decision in the decade-old case of U.S., et al. v. Cinergy Corp., et al., 1:99-CV-1693, which involves issues surrounding parts of the Clean Air Act intended to make sure that older power plants that have major upgrades also meet more modern pollution limits with new permitting and emissions controls. A federal jury in a May 2008 liability trial found that Cinergy had violated the law at its Wabash plant, but cleared the company regarding modifications made at four other plants in Indiana and Ohio. A remedy trial earlier this year paved the way for this ruling from Judge McKinney.

Most of the plant's capacity is unaffected by the ruling, which calls for units 2, 3 and 5 to be closed down.  The remaining two Duke-owned units at the station will be unaffected. The change will remove about 39 percent of the station's overall 677-megawatt power-generating capacity by shutting down units that are more than 50 years old, according to Duke.

Judge McKinney accelerated a timetable proposed by Duke in February, ordering that the shutdown happen this year rather than 2012. His ruling also means the company won't have to install additional emissions reduction equipment on the two units staying open, that Duke will need to surrender money spent between May 2008 and September 2009, and that Duke will pay less in fines on the Beckjord plant near Cincinnati - $687,500 instead of $1.32 million.

"We are disappointed with the court's decision to accelerate the shutdown...," Duke Energy Chief Legal Officer Marc Manly said in a written statement. "But even though disappointed, I will reiterate our satisfaction that after 10 years of litigation, the company's position regarding power plant projects was vindicated in the vast majority of instances about which the government originally complained. We will continue to review the Court's ruling and evaluate our options."

This fits into a larger clean air violation puzzle ongoing in federal court. After last year's trial, Judge McKinney ordered a new trial be held on projects at three plants in Indiana and Ohio. That happened last month, and the jury found violations on two repair projects at the Gallagher plant in Floyd County and none at four other projects at the Gibson plant in southwest Indiana and the Beckjord plant in Ohio. A second remedy phase for these recent violations hasn't yet been scheduled.

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  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

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  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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