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Judge Orders Re-Examination Of Moss Landing Power Plant

In a major victory for environmental groups, a Monterey County judge has ordered state water officials to re-examine the cooling system at Duke Energy's newly renovated Moss Landing power plant on the Central Coast of California near Monterey.

At stake is the health of Elkhorn Slough, one of California's last remaining coastal estuaries and an essential biological nursery for the adjacent Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Judge Robert O'Farrell says that state water officials failed to make a comprehensive review of cooling alternatives before allowing the power plant to cycle 1.2 billion gallons of seawater daily. Environmentalists say that process kills a substantial number of fish larvae.

The decision will force the Regional Water Quality Control Board to review its permit to make sure that the "best technology available" is being used to protect marine life, as required by the federal Clean Water Act. Attorney Deborah Sivas of the Earthjustice Environmental Clinic at Stanford represented local conservation group Voices of the Wetlands in the case.