SWEPCO construction halted by judge

A federal judge has issued an injunction ordering Southwestern Electric Power Co. to stop construction work on part of the land where a $1.7 billion coal-fired power plant is being built, reports the Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson issued the order Wednesday, granting a preliminary injunction that had been sought by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. Wilson found that work that had been authorized under a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit needed to stop.

The judge’s ruling includes any discharge of dredge or fill material into wetlands, the placement of a water-intake structure on the bank of the Little River and the spanning of transmission lines across the Little and Red rivers.

Those suing had argued that SWEPCO’s plant could damage wetlands and pose a risk to wildlife. The Arkansas Supreme Court had ruled that state regulators used an improper permitting process when it gave SWEPCO permission to build the plant in Hempstead County. SWEPCO opted to make the facility a merchant plant, meaning it would not sell electricity to retail customers in Arkansas and not need state approval.

(This article was written by Jill Zeman Bleed, Associated Press writer.)

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