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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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