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States brief ~ WI Supreme Court allows power plant expansion

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's states brief, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled [PDF text] today that the state's Public Service Commission [official website] acted properly in approving a coal-fired power plant in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. S.C Johnson & Son and the environmental group Clean Wisconsin [press release] challenged the plant saying that the Commission did not give enough scrutiny to the project and failed to considered cleaner alternatives. Wisconsin Energy subsidiary We Energies [official website] said the expansion of an already existing power plant will cut emissions by half because of new technology and new environmental controls. Read the Public Service Commission's press release. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...

  • The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that New York state will not have to pay $248 million in land claims to the Cayuga Indian Nation of New York [tribe website] and the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma [tribe website] as ordered by a lower court. In its opinion [PDF text] the court found parallels to a US Supreme Court decision this year that said Oneida Indians in New York state could not take back sovereignty on lands due to the statute of limitations. A spokeswoman for New York Attorney General's office [official website] said the ruling was precedent-setting in light of other Indian tribes that have unsettled land claims in New York. Reuters has more.

  • Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Maryland filed suit [NY Attorney General press release] in Pittsburgh Tuesday against Allegheny Energy Inc. [press release] and its subsidiaries for alleged violations of state environmental regulations and the Clean Air Act. The complaint [PDF text] alleges that the company modified three of its western Pennsylvania coal-fired power plants without getting the approval of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection [official website]. The remaining four states alleged that the plants contribute to the smoke and acid rain in their states. AP has more.

  • The Michigan Supreme Court [official website] ruled Tuesday that public school retirees' health care benefits are not "accrued financial benefits" as defined under the state constitution [PDF text]. The opinion in Studier v. Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System rejected arguments by the retirees that increases in their prescription drug copays and annual deductibles were unconstitutional. Attorneys for the state argued that each dollar spent on retiree benefits is diverted from student education. AP has more.

  • The California Supreme Court has ruled [PDF text] that the Federal Arbitration Act [text] does not pre-empt California law and therefore does not require California to apply another state's laws to a contractual arbitration proceeding where the other state's laws violate California's fundamental public policy. The decision reversed the ruling of a court of appeals which said that the state courts were required to honor a provision in a Discover Card User Agreement which expressly bars class action arbitration. The contract applies Delaware law, under which the right to initiate a class action arbitration may be waived. California's Metropolitan News-Enterprise has local coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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