Energy Department Will Not Face Suit Over Loans

     (CN) – A federal judge dismissed claims that the U.S. Department of Energy illegally issued 26 unregulated loan guaranties to companies that ignore environmentally friendly alternatives for energy projects.
     Californians for Renewable Energy and its member Michael Boyd had filed the complaint in November 2011 over changes to the Energy Policy Act.
     In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package allowed the secretary of energy to guarantee $2.4 billion in renewable energy and transmission project loans until Sept. 30, 2011.
     But the nonprofit argued that the loans went out before the regulations were made, violating the act and injuring its members.
     Claiming that the interests the organization sought to protect do not fall within the law’s “zone of interest,” the Department of Energy moved to dismiss.
     U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., granted motion to dismiss without prejudice Thursday.
     The 14-page decision notes that the lawsuit failed to show that Boyd was injured by the loans, or that the funded projects “contribute to greenhouse gas emissions while giving ‘false assurances’ that such emissions would be reduced.”
     “Not only does this statement appear to be purely speculative, but it is also too generalized to support standing,” Boasberg wrote.
     “The allegations of environmental harm, like those of procedural injury, are too broad to constitute an injury,” he added.
     Boyd had claimed that he suffered “environmental, aesthetic, and recreational harms,” and potentially skyrocketing utility rates because of the loans.
     But the Boasberg was unsympathetic.
     “While the complaint states that Boyd will ‘suffer the environmental impacts of the solar energy projects in Southern California,’ it says nothing about his recreational or aesthetic interests specifically,” the decision states.
     “The connection between the alleged procedural violation and the rate increases is simply too tenuous to support causation,” Boasberg added. “First, there is no evidence that DOE would have used different selection criteria or awarded loan guarantees to different projects if it had passed regulations through notice-and-comment procedures. Second, even if there were, utility rates are not set by defendants but by a third party – in this case, the California Public Utility Commission.”

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