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Federal Judge Halts Construction At Turk Plant Site

July 27, 2011

October 27, 2011, Little Rock, AR – Today, Federal District Court Judge Bill Wilson, Jr. granted an injunction that will, at least partially, halt the construction of the 600 MW Turk coal fired power plant in Hempstead County.

The injunction will stop the destruction of wetlands on the Turk construction site in order to prevent irreparable harm to the vulnerable ecosystem in the Little River Bottoms area.

Glen Hooks, Regional Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, stated, “Today’s ruling is the latest in a string of court decisions against SWEPCO and the Turk plant.  The injunction is an enormous and historic victory for Arkansans and our environment.  The facts and law were on our side and the Court made a careful and fair ruling today.”

Sierra Club, Audubon and the Hempstead County Hunting Club filed for an injunction in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Arkansas, Texarkana Division to stop Southwestern Power Company’s construction of the proposed John W. Turk 600 MW coal-fired plant in Hempstead County.  The plaintiffs are represented by Richard H. Mays of Mays & White law firm of Heber Springs.

Ellen Fennell, Interim Director for Audubon Arkansas, stated, “We applaud the court’s halt of SWEPCO’s rush to harm in this nationally recognized Important Bird Area.  The tremendous biological diversity the Little River watershed is demonstrated by the fact that it harbors two endangered species and many other species listed as threatened.  The Turk plant construction has proceeded recklessly, in the face of failure to both demonstrate public need as well as failing to assess both present and potential environmental damage in one of the most important natural areas in the region.”

SWEPCO’s proposed John W. Turk, Jr. coal-fired plant sits on 2,800 acres of previously forested land that contains wetlands.  Adjacent to the plant site is the Little River, from which SWEPCO proposes to pump 6,500 gallons per minute of water which is 10% of the river’s minimum flow.  Also adjacent to the plant site are thousands of acres of some of the most valuable and ecologically sensitive areas in the state, including the Grassy Lake area which is widely recognized as one of the most outstanding examples of virgin Cyprus swamp existing.

The plant, already under construction, would cost upwards of $2 billion as well as contribute to climate change through releasing millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Turk’s construction not only would destroy 8 acres of highly ecologically valuable wetlands, but would also fill in 8,150 feet of stream.

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