(CN) – A hunting association’s challenge to construction of a coal plant is no longer valid because the plant operator has secured the necessary permits, the 8th Circuit ruled.
Hempstead County Hunting Club, which owns 4,000 acres in Arkansas, challenged the Turk Plant, a coal-fired facility planned by the Southwestern Electric Power Co.
Members of the club use the land, including a marsh that hosts ancient bald cypress forest, to fish, hunt and observe wildlife such as alligators and birds.
When the Arkansas Public Service Commission approved the project over the objections of some local residents in November 2007, it conditioned approval on the power company’s securing state and federal permits.
The hunting club sought an injunction when the company began preparation of the power plant site in May 2007 before it had a prevention of significant deterioration permit under the Clean Air Act.
Normally, Arkansas code would require a stay on issuance of state permits pending resolution of an appeal, but the power company invoked a clause used to “avoid substantial job losses” during construction, and not operation, of the plant.
The hunting club appealed to the St. Louis-based appeals circuit in July 2008 after Arkansas Federal Court denied the injunction. The company obtained its permit a few months later in November.
Although the hunting club argued for an injunction on the basis that the permit was subject to legal challenge, and for resolution of the case after the permit was granted, in order to fully “illuminate” the issue, the 8th Circuit concluded that a request for injunctive relief is moot if the challenged conduct ends.
The per curiam opinion cited its own past rulings, and rejected the hunting club’s dependence on a 7th Circuit ruling hinging on permit validity, since no permit had been issued at the time of the challenge.
The 8th Circuit affirmed and dismissed the challenge as moot.