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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. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

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