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February 26, 2014

Luminant wins court decision in Sierra Club case

A Waco judge rules that the Dallas-based power generator did not violate federal emissions limits at a coal-fired plant in Freestone County.

Luminant Generation did not violate federal emissions limits at one of its coal-fired power plants, a federal district judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge Walter Smith Jr. of Waco, in an oral ruling from the bench, rejected complaints by the Sierra Club against Luminant’s Big Brown power plant, near Fairfield in Freestone County. The environmental group sued the Dallas-based generator in May 2012, saying it had violated the U.S. Clean Air Act more than 6,000 times since 2007 during startups, shutdowns and maintenance.

The Sierra Club had sought $330 million in civil penalties and an injunction requiring Luminant to install new pollution control equipment.

In a statement, Stephanie Zapata Moore, Luminant’s general counsel, called the outcome “a significant legal victory” that represents “a full vindication.”

CEO Mac McFarland said Luminant “is conscious of the environment” and has “an exceptional track record of exemplary environmental compliance.”

The Sierra Club, in a statement by Al Armendariz, senior representative for the group’s Beyond Coal campaign, said it is disappointed with the decision.

“As a result, people who live downwind” will suffer harmful effects as Texas regulators “give Big Brown a free pass to pollute,” Armendariz said.

In August, the Justice Department sued Luminant over similar issues at Big Brown and its Martin Lake plant near Tyler.

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