YES!!! They won the injunction, and the standard for that is that they’re likely to succeed on the merits!

Here’s the NPR piece: Stopping the Texas Coal Rush

Here’s the letter issued by the Judge yesterday:

Judge Yelenosky’s Letter Ruling
It shaping up to be a great time for those of us opposing coal plants…

Judge blocks Perry’s fast-track order before Wednesday’s hearing


By KELLEY SHANNON / Associated Press

Gov. Rick Perry’s executive order fast-tracking the permitting process for coal-fired plants is not binding on state hearing administrators, who must reconsider environmentalists’ requests for a hearing delay, a judge says.

Judge Stephen Yelenosky listened to arguments in state district court Tuesday then agreed with citizen environmental groups who claimed Perry didn’t have the constitutional authority to issue his fast-track order in October 2005.

A major permitting hearing for six coal plants was set for Wednesday in Austin.

Yelenosky’s temporary injunction did not cancel the hearing, but he said administrative judges should reconsider the schedule.

“What he’s saying (to administrative hearing judges) is the executive order does not tie your hands. It is without merit. You are now free to make your own decisions,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Jim Blackburn.

Lawyers for citizen groups argued before Yelenosky that Texas and Oklahoma residents opposed to the coal plants were at a disadvantage because there hadn’t been enough time to prepare for the high-stakes permit hearing.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office, which represented Perry in the case, referred all comments on the judge’s ruling to the governor’s office.

“No one should be surprised that a single liberal Austin judge would rule against Gov. Perry and his efforts to increase energy capacity in Texas,” spokesman Robert Black said. “We will take a close look at the ruling and make a determination on how we will proceed.”

At issue is Dallas-based TXU Corp.’s proposal to build six coal-fired plants in North, East and Central Texas.

“We’re obviously disappointed in this decision,” TXU spokeswoman Kim Morgan said. “Every day of delay means that meeting the goal of providing newer, cleaner power generation is denied.”

TXU contends the coal plants will lower utility costs and help provide needed power supplies for the future. The hearing should be held and the plants should be built, Morgan said, or the state will move closer “to the potential of widespread rolling blackouts.”

Unless action is taken now the electricity supplies in Texas will fall below reliable levels by 2009, she said.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys said the Texas governorship is intentionally weak under the Texas Constitution and that Perry’s executive order interferes with the legislative branch.

“The governor is doing something that he has no power to do,” said attorney David Kahne, representing Citizens Organizing for Resources and Environment, known as CORE, along with other plaintiffs.

The Legislature set up the State Office of Administrative Hearings as an independent forum for contested cases, and the governor doesn’t have the authority to direct the way it holds its hearings, Kahne told the judge Tuesday.

State attorneys said the plaintiffs failed to show how they would be irreparably harmed by the upcoming environmental hearings.

“There is no injury based on this purported accelerated schedule” of hearings, said Shelley Dahlberg, an attorney for the state. She said the citizen groups don’t have legal standing to make the argument that they’ve been harmed at this point, though they might after the hearings, depending on the outcome.

But Yelenosky disagreed and found that the plaintiffs did have standing.

A number of Texas cities and citizen groups oppose the plants.

“We’re actually in the ring of fire,” said Robert Cervenka, a rancher in McLennan County who lives amid proposed coal plant sites. Outside the courtroom Tuesday, he said he and his wife worry that the proposed plants would hurt the air quality for animals and people.

Katrina Baecht, whose family farm is six miles from the site of a proposed plant in Fannin County near the Oklahoma border, said she also worries about air pollution if the coal plants are built.

“I’m concerned about what it’s going to do to the health of the area where I was born and raised,” she said, “and I want to leave a better legacy behind.”

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