(CN) - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission does not have jurisdiction when a state denies an application for a new power plant in areas designated as "national interest corridors," the 4th Circuit ruled.
The Federal Power Act does allow FERC to issue permits for the construction or modification of power plants in areas deemed national interest corridors by the Department of Energy.
Communities Against Regional Interconnect, Piedmont Environmental Council and the state utilities commission of New York and Minnesota objected to FERC's interpretation of the law. FERC claimed to have jurisdiction when a state denied an application.
Judge Michael of the Richmond, Va.-based federal appeals court overruled the commission, stating that FERC instead has authority when a state has withheld approval of a permit application for more than a year.
"The continuous act of withholding approval for more than a year cannot include the finite act of denying an application within the one-year deadline," Michael wrote. "The denial of an application is a final act that stops the running of time during which approval was withheld on a pending application."