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Sierra Club v. United States Department of Energy

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20349
Nos. 11-514,, (D.D.C., 11/18/2011) (Bates, J.)

A district court denied an environmental group's motion to preliminarily enjoin the DOE from providing funding assistance for the construction and operation of a coal-fired power plant in Mississippi. Before granting the funding, the DOE issued an EIS evaluating the funding's environmental effects, as required by NEPA. The group then challenged the funding on the ground that the EIS was legally insufficient. But the group failed to make a clear showing of a substantial likelihood of success on the merits because its standing to bring suit is doubtful. The alleged harm is not from the DOE's disbursement of funds, but from the power company's construction and operation of the plant. Although the group produced evidence that the project was unlikely to have commenced without federal funding, it did not make such a showing regarding the continued viability of the project without federal funding. Moreover, the company provided a sworn affidavit indicating that it will proceed with the project with or without federal assistance or a loan guarantee. Hence, the group failed to meet its burden of showing that it will be irreparably harmed by DOE's funding of the project absent the injunction it seeks.