A Texas District Court today dismissed two appeals challenging air quality permits granted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) last December for the 600-MW coal-fired Tenaska Trailblazer Energy Center under development near Sweetwater in Nolan County.

The $4 billion plant, which will use pulverized coal and is expected to capture between 85% and 90% of its carbon dioxide emissions for use in enhanced oil recovery, was announced in March 2008. Omaha-based Tenaska said in a statement today that its application and draft air quality permits “have been extensively and publicly reviewed, including by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.” A full evidentiary contested case administrative hearing was held in June 2010 and included expert testimony concerning Trailblazer’s plans for effective emissions controls.

The TCEQ approved the air quality permits in December 2010, but they had been challenged by the citizen group Multi-County Coalition and the environmental group the Sierra Club, which contested TCEQ procedures and possible pollution problems at the plant.

Texas District Court Judge Rhonda Hurley of 98th District Court in Travis County heard oral arguments in the matter Oct. 20 and granted Tenaska’s pleas that the court did not have jurisdiction in the matter since the appeals were not filed in a timely manner. “The Court finds that TCEQ’s and Tenaska’s pleas to the jurisdiction should be granted, and the Court hereby grants them. It is therefore ordered that this suit be, and it is hereby, dismissed with prejudice,” the judge said in her final order today.

“Regardless of whether the statutory deadlines for appeals were met, Tenaska has always been confident that the permits are sound because of the thorough review and support they received,” Tenaska Vice President of Environmental Affairs Greg Kunkel said in a statement today.

Trailblazer is one of few power plants under development in the U.S. that will employ carbon capture and storage for enhanced oil recovery. The project has been awarded an A$8 million grant from the Australia-based Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.

Tenaska said  a number of tasks and contracts will need to be completed before construction can begin. These include engineering and design studies, securing buyers for generated power and emitted carbon dioxide, and securing state, federal, and local incentives designed to encourage development of carbon capture and storage projects. “When these components are in place, a schedule for financing and constructing the energy center will be established.”

Sources: POWERnews, Tenaska