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D.C. Circuit Pulls Plug on Man’s Power Plant Vision

(CN) - A man's 15-year mission to build a hydroelectric power plant in California ran dry after the D.C. Circuit upheld a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to lift a four-year construction deadline extension.

The commission granted Joseph Keating a license to develop his "Tungstar Project," a hydroelectric power plant in the Inyo National Forest in July 1992. He proposed that a dam could divert water from Morgan Creek and a nearby tungsten mine's water treatment facility through a 990-kilowatt turbine generator.

Federal law requires Keating to begin construction within two years of getting his license. But the commission repeatedly extended the deadline while Keating said he was working to obtain the necessary water and land rights.

After years of inactivity, the commission officially pulled the plug in 2007, explaining that Keating's ability to build depended on approval his six-year-old state water rights application, which in turn depended on him gaining access to land.

"It was entirely within the agency's discretion to determine that a stay of over 11 years was long enough," the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled.

"Nowhere did the commission represent to Keating that it would stay the statutory construction deadline for as long as he might want or need."

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