A Texas state district judge last week remanded an air permit for White Stallion Energy Center’s 1,320-MW coal- and petroleum coke–fired power plant power plant proposed to be built in Matagorda County to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), potentially posing a delay for the $3 billion project.

Travis County Court Judge Lora Livingston found for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), concluding that the plant’s developers had changed the site plan for the plant after receiving the permit last September.

EDF’s motion to remand was based on White Stallion’s use of two different site plans in applying for permits with the TCEQ and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “The plans differ vastly in the locations of emissions sources,” the environmental law group said. “Changing emissions sources can affect the permits compliance with Clean Air Act standards and TCEQ rules.”

"What does White Stallion have to hide? Why tell TCEQ you are doing one thing and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers you are doing another?” EDF’s Texas Regional Director Jim Marston said in a statement. “If White Stallion is expecting build a power plant then they should be upfront with regulators about their intentions. We are not talking about insignificant changes to these plans and those living near the proposed plant as well as the State of Texas have a right to know exactly how much pollution White Stallion will impose on them.”

White Stallion told the Houston Chronicle that it expects the ruling would be overturned because it did not conform to TCEQ rules and “the reality of major project development.” The newspaper reported that the company will move forward with construction plans for the plant in Bay City, Texas.

The Houston-based company says on its website that it will use circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology, which operates at lower temperatures to minimize the formation of nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide (NOx). “Multiple technologies were evaluated before choosing a CFB and are described in the air permit application,” the company said, including integrated gasification combined cycle technology, which it found has “reliability problems and is required to be shutdown too often for commercial purposes.” The CFB technology was a better choice “because of its versatility to use multiple fuels,” it said.

The company also claims that opposition to all coal-fired generation in the U.S. will hinder cleaner coal technology deployment.

“Much of the electricity currently generated in America uses technology that was built in the 1960s and 1970s. It is like driving a Model T in 2010. White Stallion will be approximately 70% to 80% cleaner by law than the average coal plant during that time in the United States. Opposition to ALL coal plants is killing the process to replace these polluting Model T’s with cleaner Ford F-150s,” it says.

Sources: POWERnews, EDF, Houston Chronicle, White Stallion Energy Center