Ameren Labadie Plant

The state Public Service Commission last week denied an attempt by a local environmental group and the Sierra Club to have an application by Ameren Missouri dismissed.

Ameren is seeking approval from the PSC to expand the boundaries of its Labadie Energy Center to accommodate the construction and operation of a coal ash landfill.

Ash is a waste product developed when coal is burned during the generation of electricity.

The Labadie Environmental Organization and the Sierra Club filed a motion with the PSC March 26 asking that Ameren’s application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity be dismissed.

They said that the PSC lacks jurisdiction to grant permission to construct a utility waste landfill.

But the PSC in its ruling stated that it is important to be clear about what Ameren is seeking from the commission.

The ruling states that Ameren is seeking approval to “expand the boundaries of its Labadie Energy Center so that it can construct and operate a utility waste landfill...”

The PSC said Ameren is seeking permission to expand the boundaries for the landfill. Ameren is not seeking PSC approval to operate the landfill, the commission’s ruling states.

The PSC agrees with the environmental groups that it has no explicit legal authority or expertise to grant a permit for the construction and operation of a utility waste landfill. That authority rests with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the ruling adds.

However, the commission said state statute does give it the authority to approve the construction of an electric plant.

The environmental groups also contended that the utility waste landfill is not an electric plant within the meaning of Missouri statutes.

But the PSC said Ameren’s proposed coal ash landfill project falls within the statutory definition of an electric plant.

“Obviously, Ameren Missouri cannot generate electricity without planning for the safe disposal of the resulting waste products,” the ruling states.

The environmental groups oppose the landfill because they think it will be a health risk.