Sierra Club v. Georgia Power Co., 98-9011.

Decision Date14 July 1999
Docket NumberNo. 98-9011.,98-9011.
Citation180 F.3d 1309
PartiesSIERRA CLUB, a public-interest corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. GEORGIA POWER COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit

Thomas Horton Beisswenger, Douglas P. Haines, Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest, Athens, GA, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Daniel S. Reinhardt, Eric A. Szweda, Atlanta, GA, Hugh Brown McNatt, Vidalia, GA, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before MARCUS, Circuit Judge, HILL, Senior Circuit Judge, and FERGUSON*, District Judge.

PER CURIAM:

This is an interlocutory appeal from the district court's denial of Appellant Sierra Club's motion for a preliminary injunction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a). The preliminary injunction would have directed the Georgia Power Company (Georgia Power) to comply with the pollutant discharge limits of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit (the permit) issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Under the permit, Georgia Power is authorized to discharge heated wastewater from its coal-fired electricity generation facility (the plant) into Lake Sinclair near Milledgeville, Georgia, subject to the numerical temperature limits of "90 degrees Fahrenheit or 5 degrees above intake temperature." Sierra Club contends that Georgia Power can achieve this heat limit by reducing the amount of power generated at the plant. Georgia Power contends that it cannot do so without, contrary to the public interest, impacting upon the level of power generated throughout its entire electrical system.

Following the presentation of evidence and argument at hearing, the district court agreed with Georgia Power. It concluded that the potential harm to the general public from a reduction of electrical power or thermal loading into the lake, out-weighed the potential injury to lakeside residents if the plant continued to operate at its current output pendente lite. Accordingly, the district court denied Sierra Club's motion for a preliminary injunction.

The grant or denial of a preliminary injunction is a decision within the sound discretion of the district court. United States v. Lambert, 695 F.2d 536, 539 (11th Cir.1983) (citation omitted). On appeal from the grant or denial of a preliminary injunction, we do not review the intrinsic merits of the case. Id. "It is the function of the trial court to exercise its discretion in deciding upon and delicately balancing the equities of the parties involved." Id., citing Tatum v. Blackstock, 319 F.2d 397, 401-02 (5th Cir.1963). A preliminary injunction is a "drastic" remedy, and we will disturb the denial of a preliminary injunction only if the district court abused its discretion. Crochet v. Housing Authority of Tampa, 37 F.3d 607, 610 (11th Cir.1994) citing Cafe 207, Inc. v. St. Johns County, 989 F.2d 1136, 1137 (11th Cir.1993).

There is adequate evidence in the record to support the district court's ruling that the grant of a preliminary injunction would be adverse to the public interest. See Lambert, 695 F.2d at 539. It is apparent from the record that the only way to reduce thermal loading to the lake (during the summer of 1998, when meteorological conditions throughout the southeastern United States were much warmer than normal) would have been substantially to reduce or eliminate electrical generation,...

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18 cases
  • American Civ. Lib. Union v. Miami-Dade Sch. Bd.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida
    • July 24, 2006
    ...or denial of a preliminary injunction is a decision within the sound discretion of the district court." Sierra Club v. Georgia Power Co., 180 F.3d 1309, 1311 (11th Cir.1999). The Eleventh Circuit requires the party moving for a preliminary injunction to meet four factors: (1) the moving par......
  • Butler v. Alabama Judicial Inquiry Com'n
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • July 28, 2000
    ...to grant or deny a temporary restraining order is within the "sound discretion of the district court." Sierra Club v. Georgia Power Co., 180 F.3d 1309, 1310 (11th Cir.1999) (citing United States v. Lambert, 695 F.2d 536, 539 (11th Cir.1983)). In light of the foregoing, the court now address......
  • Gilman v. Davis
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
    • February 4, 2010
    ...or to receive electricity. Cardona v. Oakland Unified School Dist., 785 F.Supp. 837, 842 (N.D.Cal.1992), Sierra Club v. Georgia Power Co., 180 F.3d 1309, 1310-11 (11th Cir.1999). Here, an injunction would have no analogous effect on the public. Accordingly, the public interest does not stro......
  • Pittman v. Cole
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Alabama
    • October 17, 2000
    ...or denial of a preliminary injunction is a decision within the sound discretion of the district court." See Sierra Club v. Georgia Power Co., 180 F.3d 1309, 1310 (11th Cir.1999); United States v. Lambert, 695 F.2d 536, 539 (11th Cir.1983). Federal courts have interpreted several common law ......
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2 books & journal articles
  • Appellate Practice and Procedure - William M. Droze and Jeri N. Sute
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 51-4, June 2000
    • Invalid date
    ...Chem., U.S.A., 928 F.2d 1522 (11th Cir. 1991). 40. See 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1292(a)(1) (1994). See, \e.g-, Sierra Club v. Georgia Power Co., 180 F.3d 1309, 1310 (11th Cir. 1999) (per curiam) (reviewing the district court's denial of appellant's motion for preliminary injunction); Doe v. Stincer, ......
  • Environmental Law - W. Scott Laseter and Chintan K. Amin
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 51-4, June 2000
    • Invalid date
    ...discharge exists," with no mention of a requirement that the discharge limitation apply only to stormwater). 34. 181 F.3d at 1290. 35. 180 F.3d 1309 (11th Cir. 1999) (per curiam). 36. Id. at 1310-11. 37. Id. at 1310. 38. Id. 39. Id. 40. Id. (citing Crochet v. Housing Auth. of Tampa, 37 F.3d......

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