Judge: City violated open meetings law in approving New Orleans East gas plant

Judge: City violated open meetings law in approving New Orleans East gas plant

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - New Orleans Civil Court Judge Piper Griffin ruled Friday that the city violated its open meetings law by allowing in actors paid by Entergy to argue in favor of the plant, according to attorneys who participated in the lawsuit.

That action shut out other people who were concerned about the plant, and were not given an opportunity to speak.

The city could appeal the ruling.

RELATED: Council committee expected to slap $5 million fine on Entergy, but delays decision

Entergy communications specialist Neal Kirby had this response to the judge’s ruling:

“Entergy New Orleans is very pleased with the Court’s ruling today upholding the New Orleans City Council’s well-reasoned decision approving the construction of the New Orleans Power Station, which came after the Council’s detailed review of the 3,000 pages of testimony, documentary evidence, and post hearing briefs. We will continue with the construction of the plant, which will provide a safe, reliable, secure and clean source of power to the citizens of New Orleans.

While we do not agree that there was a violation of the Open Meetings Law, even if such a violation occurred, it had no impact on the decision of the full Council’s authorizing the construction of the plant, and it certainly had no effect on the settlement between Entergy New Orleans and the City Council, which again approved proceeding with building the New Orleans Power Station.”

However, New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno said the judge made it clear that Entergy undermined the process.

"This affirms the current Council’s position that Entergy used disgraceful tactics. This Council aggressively investigated and penalized the company for their reprehensible acts along with holding additional public hearings. Under the advisement of the City Attorney, we await the judge’s order,” Moreno said

The City of New Orleans also released a statement responding to the decision.

“This morning the Judge complimented the New Orleans City Council for having done nothing wrong, but expressed concern that Entergy undermined the process. The Court’s ruling will be evaluated for next steps in the coming days.”

The lawsuit was brought by the Alliance for Affordable Energy, the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, 350-New Orleans, and the Sierra Club.

Attorneys for those groups say their interpretation of the ruling means that the city has to begin the power plant approval process all over again. City councilmembers say they are still reviewing the ruling to determine what will happen next.

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