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Justices take Rockport gasification appeal

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The Indiana Supreme Court will hear an appeal that could determine the fate of a controversial proposal to fund a southern Indiana coal gasification plant with guaranteed prices above current market rates for the substitute natural gas it would create.

Justices Thursday granted transfer in Indiana Gas Company, et al. v. Indiana Regulatory Commission, 93S02-1306-EX-00407. A divided Court of Appeals panel reversed an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission order approving a contract that would have funded the plant in Rockport.

The appellate panel was divided over whether the state’s entire contract must be voided because the definition of “retail end use customer” differs from the statutory definition. The majority ruled that it must, but Chief Judge Margret Robb argued in dissent that only that portion of the contract with the errant language must be voided.

Transfer to the Supreme Court was expected after the Indiana General Assembly in the closing days of this year’s session deferred to the court in Senate Enrolled Act 494. Plant backers blasted the action and Gov. Mike Pence’s signature on the bill, saying it may have doomed a project championed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels, which is expected to cost at least $2.4 billion. But the plant’s backers vowed to press on.

“We will work hard for a win if the Supreme Court takes the case,” Indiana Gasification LLC said in a statement after Pence signed SEA 494. “If we win, however, only a clear reversal of position by the governor would enable the project to go forward.”

Opponents celebrated the Legislature’s about-face, casting the plant as an untested design, an environmental menace and a brazen example of crony capitalism benefiting former Daniels adviser Mark Lubbers, now project director for Indiana Gasification.

Even if the justices reverse the Court of Appeals, SEA 494 would trigger a new round of state regulatory review. Leucadia National Corp., the parent company of Indiana Gasification, announced it was suspending work on the Rockport site pending judicial review. Leucadia said it has spent $20 million on the Rockport proposal to date. 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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