A Texas District Court judge on Monday signaled his intent to reverse and remand to the state a key air permit granted to the proposed $3.2 billion Las Brisas Energy Center (LBEC).

Project developer Las Brisas Energy Center LLC has proposed building the 1,320-MW power plant on the north side of the Port of Corpus Christi’s Inner Harbor. The plant would consist of four 330-MW circulating fluidized bed boilers that will use petroleum coke (petcoke) as the primary fuel.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) issued an air permit for the LBEC plant in January 2011 after weeks of evidentiary hearings—over the objections of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and against the recommendation of two administrative law judges. The permit was contested by environmental groups the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club, and the local Clean Economy Coalition.

Judge Stephen Yelenosky of Travis County’s 345th District Court alleged in the letter on Monday that the TCEQ failed to require adequate technology to handle the plant’s fuel source, to comply with National Ambient Air Quality Standards, and it did not properly account for how petcoke would be stored and transported to the plant. "Here, the worst-case scenarios factually and legally were not modeled," Yelenosky wrote.

When LBEC received its air permit, the company said in a statement that construction at the plant would commence in 2011 and the plant could begin commercial operation in 2015.

As the Corpus Christi Caller pointed out, however, the plant will need to first clear a wastewater permit pending with the TCEQ and a greenhouse gas permit pending with the EPA.

Sources: POWERnews, LBEC, Corpus Christie Caller