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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Environmental groups have lost a bid to overturn an Alberta regulator's approval of a coal-fired power plant in the province that they had argued was fast-tracked to avoid upcoming federal carbon-reduction regulations.
A judge ruled she would not allow Ecojustice, arguing on behalf of the Pembina Institute, to appeal the Alberta Utilities Commission's approval of Maxim Power Corp's Milner plant near Grand Cache, because the commission had examined the application for 28 months when it gave its interim approval in June.
That showed the regulator had considered all of the evidence, Alberta Justice Patricia Rowbotham said in a written decision.
Ecojustice and Pembina had argued that the AUC granted Maxim's request to get the green light by June 30, the latest date allowing the plant to be built by July 1, 2015.
The company had said it received assurances from the federal environment minister that it could avoid new carbon rules if the plant was built by then.
"Unfortunately, the court deemed the appeal as moot given that the AUC issued a final approval of the plant expansion after the early interim decision," the environmental groups said in a statement. "Justice Patricia Rowbotham stated that the court would not intervene to tell the AUC when to set dates for its approvals."
Maxim has said the plant will employ "state-of-the-art, supercritical, pulverized coal technology," which would make it the country's cleanest coal-fired facility. It aims to start construction next summer.
Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent moved ahead with the new coal-fired power plant rules in August.
Kent has said the regulations, aimed at gradually phasing out coal-fired power generation as a way to meet Ottawa's greenhouse gas commitments, will force developers to reduce emissions to levels that are comparable to high-efficiency gas-fired plants.
That means new coal-fired plants will have to employ expensive, nascent technology, such as carbon capture and storage.
Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson