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CPS’ barrier method

A contested-case hearing on City Public Service Energy’s proposed coal-fired power plant could happen as early as December, but as plant opponents have learned, accessing CPS documents has been nearly impossible.

The court has certified eight parties to represent the opposition in the hearing: Smart Growth, Jefferson Heights Neighborhood Association, Dr. Vince Fonseca, Gert Aeerts of Sierra Club, the City of China Grove, Public Citizen, and the SEED Coalition.

Karen Hadden of the SEED Coalition characterized Baker Botts, CPS’ Houston-based attorney as “incredibly hostile.” When SEED asked to examine CPS documents, Haddon said, the utility and its attorneys inundated the group with 60,000 pages of information some of which was unrelated to the case. “There was stuff in there with nothing to do with anything: zoning cases and pages with just a grid of black and gray squares.”

More than 100 questions submitted to CPS and Baker Botts were struck; instead, the administrative law judge in the case chose 25 for CPS to answer.

“They gave vague answers and refused to answer others,” Hadden said, adding that some answers directed SEED to “see prefiled testimony.” When Hadden read that testimony, it referred to other documents no longer admissible in court.

Baker Botts told the Current it would reply to the allegations, but had not at press time.

Government Canyon’s debut

It was a unseasonably hot day, but on October 15 hundreds of nature lovers dispersed throughout the 8,622-acre preserve, which features a front and back country and, at its far reaches, a protected wildlife habitat that is open intermittently, depending on nesting season. That area is currently closed.

The GCSNA has an embattled history: In 2003, City Public Service, under pressure from neighboring landowners including former Senator Phil Gramm, proposed running high-voltage power lines through it; the utility later withdrew the proposal.

Government Canyon, 12861 Galm Road, is open Friday through Monday from 8 a.m. to sunset. Admission is $6 for people 13 and older, or free with an annual Texas Parks and Wildlife Pass. Info: 688-9055.

- Lisa Sorg

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