Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Alcoa still on hold

A federal court has denied a request from Alcoa Power Generating Inc. to rule that the state of North Carolina had effectively waived its authority over a permit Alcoa needs to renew its federal license to generate electricity at dams it owns on the Yadkin River. It's another setback for Alcoa, which until a couple of years ago appeared to be on the verge of getting a new license to operate the hydroelectric plants.

 Alcoa once employed about 1,000 workers at its Badin smelter, which consumed much of the electricity it generates from the river's power. But the smelter has been closed down for years, Alcoa has only a relative handful of workers, and after years of supporting Alcoa, North Carolina has lately opposed another federal license for Alcoa. The state wants to recover the license, though it must depend upon Congress to do that. It's allowed under federal law, but that hasn't happened before.  So it's probably a long shot for North Carolina to "recapture" the license, to use the legal term. But the Perdue administration believes the river is a public resources that belongs to the people and that without the jobs that once earned Alcoa the state's support, the power of the river and its earning power should be held by the state.(A;coa continues to operate the dams under an annual license.)

Curiously to those not familiar with the complicated proceedings, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had appeared to support issuing something called a 401 certification, which Alcoa must have to get its federal license renewed. But last year the state withdrew its permit after concluding, based on some emails made public in an administrative law proceeding, that  Alcoa had withheld important information from the state about water guality in the river. Alcoa quickly announced it would fight the permit revocation and petitioned the U.S. court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Alcoa wanted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to go ahead and grant the license. The appeals court rejected Alcoa's argument and said FERC cannot issue the license pending completion of litigation over the permit.

Here's more background:

 The state had revoked the water quality permit after concluding that Alcoa “intentionally withheld information material to determining the project’s ability to meet the State’s water quality standards for dissolved oxygen.”

1 comment:

Mack Mabry said...

Jack, you have missed the story.
1) Stanly County led by Tony Dennis, Roger Dick and Lindsey Dunevant have spent north of $3m chasing jobs in this fiasco. Not a single new public company has created a single job. The only jobs generated by this misguided crew is for lobbyists and lawyers in Raleigh and Washington DC. Stanly County is now too toxic to compete effectively for new industries to support a an increasingly needy population.
2) Stanly County has closed a scholl (last year) and is currently dismantling their school system because they are out of money. The money wasted on the ALCOA farce could be used to buffer the current shortfall until the economy improves and educate children to more effectively compete in the 21st century.
3) Jack, you need to lose your tree-hugger attitudes about putative wilderness close to Charlotte and cover this story which about equipping the people of Stanly County for the future instead of providing limousine liberal tripe as you wax poetic over "nature"and the "environment" at the expense of the lives of others.
Mack Mabry