Description: Challenge to the portion of New York's Clean Energy Standard that provides payments to certain nuclear power facilities.
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. v. New York State Public Service Commission
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 10/08/2019 Decision Download Petition dismissed. New York Court Dismissed Challenge to State’s Nuclear Plant Subsidies. A New York court upheld the New York State Public Service Commission’s (PSC’s) Clean Energy Standard and Zero Emission Credit (ZEC) program for nuclear plants. The court found that the PSC had complied with requirements of the State Administrative Procedure Act, including by “adequately striv[ing] to ensure, to the maximum extent practical” that the application of the term “zero-emission” to power plants complied with the SAPA goal that agencies write “in a clear and coherent manner, using words with common and everyday meanings.” In addition, the court found that the administrative record adequately supported the PSC’s use of the social cost of carbon in the calculation of ZEC payments. The court also concluded there was adequate support in the record for the PSC’s conclusions regarding reduced carbon emissions associated with continued operation of the nuclear plants and the PSC’s findings of “public necessity.” 01/22/2018 Decision Download Motions to dismiss granted in part and denied in part; motion for leave to amend granted. New York Court Allowed Five Petitioners to Proceed with Claims Challenging Nuclear Plant “Zero-Emissions” Subsidies. A New York trial court granted in part and denied in part motions to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the “zero-emissions credit” (ZEC) component of the Clean Energy Standard approved by the New York State Public Service Commission in 2016. The ZEC program provides for payments to certain nuclear power generators in the state based on the social cost of carbon. The court dismissed 56 of the 61 petitioners in the lawsuit because their claims were not timely and also dismissed the remaining petitioners’ State Environmental Quality Review Act claim because they lacked standing. The court also ruled that arguments regarding the Indian Point nuclear facility’s participation in the ZEC program were not ripe because there had been no showing that Indian Point would apply to or be approved for the program. The court otherwise found that the petitioners had adequately set forth cognizable causes of action and allowed their claims to proceed. The court also allowed an amended complaint. 11/30/2016 Petition Download Petition filed. Environmental Organization and Organic Farm Challenged New York’s Plan to Subsidize Nuclear Plants. Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. and a commercial organic farm filed a proceeding in New York Supreme Court challenging what the petitioners characterized as the New York Public Service Commission’s (PSC’s) “bailout program” for nuclear power plants in New York. The action challenged by the petitioners was the Tier 3 Zero-Emissions Credit portion of the PSC’s Order Adopting a Clean Energy Standard, which will require load-serving entities to purchase zero-emissions credits that a State entity will purchase from the qualifying nuclear facilities based on a formula for the social cost of carbon. The petitioners contended that the PSC’s action violated the New York Public Service Law, including by using the social-cost-of-carbon metric to determine the nuclear subsidy. The petitioners also claimed that the PSC had committed procedural violations and had violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act. The petitioners asserted that the PSC had not used words with “common and everyday meanings” in violation of the State Administrative Procedure Act because nuclear energy “is not, nor has ever been zero-emissions” since it “routinely emits greenhouse gases and radioactive and thermal emissions.” The petitioners also said that the PSC had relied on the social cost of carbon in “an unclear, incoherent and inconsistent manner.”