Desert Rock may request EPA records
By Chuck Slothower
Desert Rock Energy Co. put the Environmental Protection Agency on notice Tuesday that it may ask for documents between the agency and project opponents related to the agency's decision to pull the air permit for the proposed power plant.
Jeffrey Holmstead, a Brace-well & Giuliani lobbyist for Desert Rock, also said the company intends to respond to the agency's decision questioning the permit.
The move comes a day after the EPA filed a motion to remand Desert Rock's air permit for additional evaluation. The agency's remand motion threw another roadblock in front of plans for the proposed New Mexico power plant.
Holmstead notified the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board in a letter Tuesday, "Desert Rock may seek discovery regarding EPA's actions in this case and its communications with parties that are opposing the permit at issue in this proceeding."
Discovery is a legal process by which parties to a legal proceeding release documents.
Holmstead said "unusual circumstances bordering on bad faith" may exist in the permit remand decision.
A remand is an action to send a matter back for further consideration. It does not mean the permit was revoked.
Discovery is allowed only at the EPA Environmental Appeals Board discretion, and only in unusual circumstances, Holmstead's letter said. He added: "We have reason to believe that such circumstances may exist in this case."
Amy Atwood, a Portland, Ore.-based attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, which opposes Desert Rock, called the letter a "highly sophisticated temper tantrum."
Atwood said a complex discovery would only delay a decision on Desert Rock's air permit.
"It's not going to help their interests," she said.
Holmstead also said Desert Rock Energy Co. intends to file a motion asking the EPA to retain documents in the case.
Desert Rock, a proposed $3 billion, 1,500 megawatt coal-burning power plant, would be built on Navajo land about 30 miles southwest of Farmington.
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