Groups sue Perry over coal plants order

Groups sue Perry over coal plants order

Four environmental groups sued Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday, accusing him of violating state law and the Texas Constitution by issuing an executive order to speed the permitting process for new coal-fired power plants.

TXU Corp.’s coal proposal is on the fast track under an order Perry issued last year to expand the production of electricity and lower its cost.

Critics of TXU’s plan ”“ including environmental organizations, a coalition of Texas cities and counties and a group of influential Dallas business executives ”“ have asked for an administrative hearing on their concerns.

Because of the timeline established in Perry’s order, the hearing was set to begin on Feb. 21. The environmental groups say that’s too soon for them to build their case against the plants.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in state district court in Austin and a similar lawsuit filed last year against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality seek to overturn Perry’s order and delay the hearing.

The lawsuit says state law and the Texas Constitution prohibit Perry from interfering with the way the State Office of Administrative Hearings conducts its business.

Perry spokesman Ted Royer said the governor’s order “merely cut bureaucratic red tape in the permitting process.”

“It’s completely within his constitutional authority to do so,” he said.

TXU says the plants will meet growing demand for power, boost the economy of nearby small towns and reduce toxic emissions by replacing older, less efficient plants.

Thursday’s lawsuit was filed by Citizens Organizing for Resources and Environment, Texans Protecting our Water Environment and Resources, East Texas Environmental Concerns Organization, and Citizens for Environmental Clean-Up.

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