Judge recommends permit for Aspen Power be denied

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A judge has recommended an air quality permit be denied that would allow Aspen Power to resume construction.

According to a letter to several parties, Aspen Power may file exceptions or briefs before Sept. 14.

According to a 45-page judgment issued on Aug. 24 from Administrative Law Judge Sarah Ramos, Aspen Power did not meet standards set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The brief states Aspen Power relied on a code which is now obsolete. According to the brief, Aspen Power applied for the air quality permit when that code was active.

"But it would be legally untenable to recommend approval of the application in its current state," the brief stated.

The brief also states Aspen Power "did not prove its planned emissions are not less stringent than those actually in practice, and it did not discuss how it might achieve a maximum degree of HAP [Hazardous Air Pollutant] reductions."

The plant to be built on 67-acres was touted as major economic development project for North Lufkin.  Owner and CEO, Danny Vines had predicted the high-powered renewable energy plant would bring at least 125 new jobs and contribute more than 265 million dollars to local economy over the first ten years.   He also said the plant would utilize half a million tons of logging debris and wood waster per year.

We'll have continuing coverage of this story here at ktre.com and on KTRE's East Texas News.