The court found deficiencies in the Resource Management Plans at issue that must be remedied, including failure to consider the indirect effects of downstream combustion of resources extracted from the planning areas, failure to quantify properly the magnitude of methane pollution by arbitrarily using outdated science, and failure to consider any alternative with less coal available for leasing.
An environmental organization has constitutional right to intervene in public utility proceeding concerning a power purchase agreement. The right to a clean and healthful environment guaranteed by the Hawaiian constitution is a property right that is protected by due process and the utility commission must consider impacts to that right in determining whether to approve a power purchase agreement.
A U.S. court blocked the proposed expansion of an underground coal mine because the environmental assessment (EA) lacked sufficient analysis of the indirect and cumulative impacts of coal transportation and coal combustion. The EA also improperly emphasized the benefits of additional coal mining to the local economy while ignoring the costs of anticipated greenhouse gas emissions from burning the coal.
A utility company violated the Clean Water Act when it disposed of coal ash into unlined ponds, which leaked contaminants via groundwater to an adjacent river. The court directed the utility company to excavate the coal ash and move it to a dry lined disposal location.
The District Court vacated the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s determination that SMCRA does not require permit termination when surface coal mining operations have not commenced within three years of permit issuance and no valid permit extension has been granted.
In 2016, an Administrative Law Judge recommended the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopt the Federal Social Cost of Carbon (FSCC) established by the EPA should to determine the environmental cost values of burning coal in Minnesota. NOTE: This decision is only a recommendation that the PUC is not obligated to follow.
The district court determined it was unreasonable for agencies to quantify the benefits of lease modifications for coal mining and then explain that a similar analysis of the costs of GHG emissions and climate impacts was impossible when such an analysis was in fact possible due to the availability of the Social Cost of Carbon Protocol, even if the cost-benefit analysis was not required by law. Thus, the court set aside the government authorizations of the proposed expansion of coal mining operations and ordered the intervening mining companies to stop exploration activities.
In the Matter of Application of Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (Cliffside), Order Granting Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity with Conditions, NC PUC, Docket No. E-7, Sub 790
The North Carolina Utilities Commission denied Duke Energy's request to build twin 800 MW coal-fired power plants, saying that the utility had failed to prove that both plants were needed to meet demand. (Duke Energy had planned to sell power from one of the plants). Instead, the state commission gave approval for one plant. The Commission also conditioned its approval on the utility’s commitment to retire older coal-fired generating facilities and to invest a small percentage of its annual retail electricity revenues on energy efficiency. Order E-70, Sub.790, p. 9.
The Supreme Court of Montana found that the agency improperly relied on the federal land manager's findings about the impact of a proposed coal-fired power plant. The law required the agency to make an independent inquiry.