Alabama Power Co. (SO) must face a U.S. lawsuit claiming it violated the Clean Air Act by modifying three coal plants without proper permits, a federal appeals court ruled, reinstating a case dismissed by a trial judge.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta today said the lower court abused its discretion by refusing to let two government experts testify that the company should have expected the plant modifications to “significantly increase” emissions and therefore should have known it needed federal permits to make them.
The government said it couldn’t continue the lawsuit without the expert testimony and the district court dismissed the case in 2011. The government and the Alabama Environmental Council appealed.
“We disagree with the district court’s legal rationale and analysis,” the appeals court said, sending the case back to the district court for further proceedings.
Alabama Power may ask the appeals court for a rehearing, Michael Sznajderman, a company spokesman, said. “We have always complied with the law and have been falsely accused.”
The case is U.S. v. Alabama Power Company, 2:01-cv-00152-VEH, Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Atlanta).
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