INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for
the construction of a $2.8 billion coal-gasification plant in southwestern
Indiana, deciding unanimously that a contract with the state was still
The justices ruled 5-0 that changes made by Indiana Gasification, the plant
developer, and the Indiana Finance Authority, were not substantial enough to
invalidate the contract. Opponents, including a regional power company and
Indiana environmentalists, had argued that a change affecting industrial
users would require a new contract to be drawn up and reviewed by state
But the court decided that Indiana Gasification and the finance authority
were fine approving an amended contract last year.
“IFA and Indiana Gas have addressed this concern by amending the Contract
approved by the (Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission) and rendering it
unnecessary for this Court to decide the issue,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson
wrote in the court’s five-page opinion.
The contract requires the state buy synthetic natural gas produced by the
Rockport plant for 30 years at a fixed price and then resell the gas on the
Supporters say the project will bring hundreds of jobs to southwest Indiana
and pump billions of dollars into the state economy. Mark Lubbers, lead
developer for Indiana Gasification, said Tuesday he was reviewing the
decision with Indiana Gasification’s corporate parent, New York-based
Opponents have said the project will likely have Indiana ratepayers bear the
cost of the contract as a spike in natural gas production drives down demand
for potentially expensive alternatives. They appeared to win a victory
earlier this year when state lawmakers asked for a conditional review of the
project, although the high court ruling negates that review.
“Indiana lawmakers sent a message earlier this year that Leucadia’s
get-rich-quick scheme is no longer welcome here and should not come at the
expense of Hoosier families,” Jodi Perras, director of the Sierra Club’s
Beyond Coal Campaign, said in a statement.
Justice Mark Massa found himself under scrutiny on the case earlier this
year because of his longtime friendship with Lubbers and his previous work
as former Gov. Mitch Daniels’ lawyer when the deal was being hammered out in
2009. But Massa declined to recuse himself from the case.