NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A New Orleans Civil Court judge voided the council’s final approval of a new Entergy power plant Tuesday (July 2), less than a month after she ruled the city violated its open meetings law when actors paid by Entergy spoke in favor of the plan.
Attorney Monique Harden is representing Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and three other environmental groups in a suit against City Council.
“They’re not standing for the rights of people in a room before they make a decision,” Harden said. “People were not allowed to come into the room. People left in frustration and people were not able to give comment before the city Council made its decision to approve the proposed Entergy gas plant."
While Harden insisted the council was to blame and the paid actors only aggravated the situation, Judge Piper Griffin disagreed.
The judgment she handed down Tuesday reasserts her ruling the council “did nothing wrong." This is exactly why Sunni LeBeouf, the city’s attorney, said the city would appeal the judge’s ruling voiding out the approval of the multi-million dollar plan.
In a statement‚ Sunni LeBeouf called that the most, “critical finding in today’s ruling.”
The statement goes onto say, “the council takes very seriously its open meetings law obligations and works very hard to ensure citizens’ voices are heard."
Harden said any move to repeal the judge’s decision sends a different message.
“I think it’s pretty rash and really sends a negative message to the people of New Orleans that our voices don’t count and City Council decisions when it does,” Harden said.
Entergy responded with the following statement:
“We are pleased that the Court’s ruling leaves intact the settlement Resolution of the Council, issued in February of this year, that allows the construction of the New Orleans Power Station to proceed. As the evidence considered by the Council overwhelmingly demonstrated, the New Orleans Power Station will provide a safe, reliable, and clean local source of power generation for New Orleans as well as a platform to integrate solar and other renewable resources into the portfolio of Entergy New Orleans. It is important to note that a separate ruling by the same Court upheld the Council’s well-reasoned decision, which came after the Council’s detailed review of the 3,000 pages of testimony, documentary evidence, and post-hearing briefs.
We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision that there was a violation of the Open Meetings Law at the Utility Committee meeting in February 2018 or that any such violation could have had any effect on the full Council vote in March 2018, a meeting for which the Court expressly determined that no Open Meetings Law violation had occurred. However, we are ready to put this matter behind us and look forward to completing construction of the New Orleans Power Station.”
FOX 8 spoke with Logan Burke, the executive director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, who said at this point, city tax payers would not be responsible for footing the bill for the plant, if it is in fact built.
“If Entergy is continuing to build, that is at their own risk,” Burke said.