It's hard to miss the opponents of coal-fired power plants they're decked out in bright colors, holding signs warning of the hazards of the carbon-belching behemoths, and are large in number when the chance arises to trumpet their cause. Those who support the nation's cheapest and most predominant power providers wear suits, travel in stealth mode, and have high-dollar lawyers do all the talking for them.
That was the case this morning in Fulton County Superior Court when Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore presided over a packed courtroom to hear arguments over Georgia's first coal-fired power plant in 20 years.
Houston-based Dynegy and LS Power plan to build the plant in southwest Georgia near Albany. Lawyers from the environmental law firm GreenLaw representing the Sierra Club and Friends of the Chattahoochee argued that the 1,200-megawatt plant would not regulate the estimated 9 million tons of carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas and chief culprit of global warming and be in violation of state and federal law. Also of concern was the permitting process conducted by the state Environmental Protection Division.
The proposed plant has been called both a Godsend and a curse for impoverished Early County, one of the poorest in Georgia. Proponents for the $2-billion plant argue that it will create 750 construction jobs and 100 permanent positions and in years would become the county's largest taxpayer. Critics point to the fact that its presence would result in a health hazard for its citizens and the rest of the state, ultimately stunting the county from making any real gains in the future. That's not to mention the concerns about global warming.
Lawyers from Longleaf argued that while the issue of global warming and the impact of coal-fired power plants needs to be addressed, the discussion should not take place in the courtroom. They argued that critics were using the court to push that discussion and that it's a policy decision best left to policymakers such as the Georgia General Assembly and the U.S. Congress.
The state is still in denial as to whether global warming even exists. The U.S. Senate, however, is beginning such a discussion this week, one which President Bush is expected to veto if it proves successful in bringing about change to the country's current stance on global warming.
Moore is expected to deliver a ruling in 30 days.
"No one can be employed if they're falling down dying," she said, adding that she had 19 boxes of documents sitting in the clerk's office that she needed to examine. "We need to look at both the economy and the environment. That's what I will do."
yeah, because Grant Park is miles away and isn't a park
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