Californians can go to their local Superior Court to challenge the state Energy Commission’s approval of large new power plants that use natural gas or other fuels, a state appeals court has ruled, overturning a state law backed by energy companies. The law, passed in 2001 during an energy crisis, required opponents of thermal power plants approved by the commission to file their objections with the state Supreme Court. That court decides which cases to review, and, environmental groups say, has not granted review of any challenges to power plants since 2001. But the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said the 2001 law violates the state Constitution, which, with some specified exceptions, allows challenges to government actions to be filed in a county Superior Court where a judge would review the legality of the commission’s action. The judge’s ruling could be appealed. The Constitution “does not authorize the Legislature to constrain judicial review of Energy Commission decisions,” Justice Alison Tucher said in the 3-0 ruling, which upheld a January 2019 decision by a judge in Alameda County. She said another provision of the 2001 law, barring any judicial review of the commission’s determination of the facts in… Read full this story
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