Mooting Lawsuit, EPA Issues Permit for New Mexico Coal-Fired Plant

On July 31, EPA Region IX issued a final decision to approve a Clean Air Act permit for the Desert Rock Power Plant, a proposed coal-fired facility in New Mexico.The 1500-megawatt facility is to be located on a Navajo reservation in the Four Corners area.

Desert Rock Energy Company, LLC, a subsidiary of project proponent Sithe Global Power, LLC, sued EPA in March 2008 to compel it to issue a permit for the project.In June, the parties filed a proposed consent decree calling for EPA to issue a permit after public notice & comment.In early July, the State of New Mexico and several environmental groups filed motions to intervene in the case, arguing that EPA’s issuance of a permit would, among other impacts, “undo” New Mexico’s efforts to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions.EPA’s issuance of the permit appears to moot both the lawsuit and the pending motions to intervene.However, New Mexico state officials have already announced their intention to administratively challenge EPA’s decision before the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board, and will likely make raise the same arguments about GHG emissions there as they did in the district court.