The Lackawanna Energy Center contends that a Sierra Club lawsuit wasn't the reason it redesigned a power plant to discharge less wastewater, but the environmental group is claiming it as a win anyway and asked the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on Tuesday to make the state pay its legal fees.

Lackawanna Energy has said that economics and efficiency, not the lawsuit, compelled it to redesign its power plant and withdraw its application to the state Department of Environmental Protection for a wastewater discharge permit. The Sierra Club was asking the Commonwealth Court to overturn the Environmental Hearing Board's denial of its fee request, arguing that the board erred in narrowly interpreting the standards for awarding fees.

Harry Weiss of Ballard Spahr, representing Lackawanna Energy, said economic considerations were the foremost concern of the plant's operators, especially after contractors' bids for a wastewater system that could meet the DEP's requirements came back $3 million over the company's budget.

Weiss also said the Sierra Club didn't get the exact win they were claiming: The plant still produced wastewater, but with the new design it was trucked to a water treatment plant and eventually released into the Lackawanna River. Lackawanna Energy Center LLC also is represented by Ronald M. Varnum, Lorene L. Boudreau and Allison Hyeyeon Park In of Ballard Spahr LLP, among others.

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