Yesterday, John Murawski over at the News & Observer reported on a judge's denial of the Attorney General's motion to dismiss in Owens v. North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. The case, brought by the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom (CLF) on behalf of Perquimans County landowners, alleges that the Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) violated North Carolina law when it informed Iberdrola Renewables that the corporation's Desert Wind Project (now the Amazon Wind Farm East) would not be subjected to state permitting standards. Earlier this week Judge Melissa Owens Lassiter denied a motion to dismiss filed by the Attorney General, who is defending the case for NCDEQ, clearing the way for the case to proceed to a contested case hearing.
We'll walk through the News & Observer report and provide some commentary.
A Raleigh judge has refused to throw out a citizen lawsuit seeking to block the Amazon Wind Farm in eastern North Carolina, setting the legal dispute for trial next year.
The judge is technically sitting in Perquimans County, and that is where any hearings will take place.
Administrative Law Judge Melissa Owens Lassiter on Monday denied a request to dismiss the lawsuit filed by two residents of Perquimans County, where the 104-turbine energy project is several months into construction.
The husband-and-wife litigants – fireman Stephen Owens and IT administrator Jillanne Badawi – want to force the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality to subject the Amazon Wind Farm to a lengthy regulatory review that project developers have said would derail their $400-million wind farm.
If anyone is forcing DEQ to subject the Amazon Wind Farm to a lengthy regulatory review, it is the North Carolina legislature, who in 2013 enacted a state permitting process for such facilities. The Petitioners are merely asking that the Court require DEQ to follow the law.