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Sierra Club Asks Federal Court to Cut off Power to Community

By Feb 15, 2009
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The San Francisco-based Sierra Club filed a complaint in U.S. District Court, asking for a court-ordered shutdown of the community-owned electrical generating plant in Holland, Mich.

The complaint, filed against the city of Holland and the Holland Board of Public Works (BPW) on Dec. 15, 2008, alleges that maintenance and repair work done at the James De Young power-generating facility constituted major modifications of the plant that required extensive new permits and equipment retrofitting. The complaint asks the court to “enjoin the defendants from operating the De Young Plant” until the BPW completes the process for obtaining new permits.

Loren Howard, general manager of the Holland BPW, said the Sierra Club’s claims are unfounded.

“The Sierra Club is asking the court to shut down our community’s power plant in the dead of winter until we obtain permits and equipment upgrades that were never required in the first place,” he said. “Holland and its plants are in compliance with all environmental laws and requirements. We believe their lawsuit is irresponsible, and their actions demonstrate a reckless disregard for the well-being of our community.”

According to the Holland BPW, although the Clean Air Act requires notification of state and federal regulatory officials 60 days in advance of filing this type of complaint, the Sierra Club allegedly ignored the requirement to file its complaint on Dec. 15, 2008—one day before previously scheduled public hearings were to take place in Holland on a new air permit that would allow Holland to build a clean power plant.

Noting that the De Young facility is in full compliance with state and federal laws, the Holland BPW said it is prepared to challenge the Sierra Club’s complaint.

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