Nucor Steel files notice of appeal over dismissal of lawsuit challenging rival steel mill

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A steel company with a mill in northeastern Arkansas has filed notice it'll appeal the dismissal of its lawsuit against a rival that is planning a mill about 20 miles away.

Attorneys for Nucor Steel filed notice Friday that it will appeal the dismissed suit, which sought to stop construction of the $1.3 million Big River Steel Mill in Osceola. The appeal would be heard by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes ruled Feb. 25 that Nucor's lawsuit isn't authorized under the citizen lawsuit provision of the federal Clean Air Act and said his court has no jurisdiction over the case.

Nucor, which has a steel mill in Blytheville, had argued that the federal act authorizes a citizen lawsuit against anyone alleged to be violating an emission standard or anyone who proposes or builds a "major emitting facility" without a permit.

Holmes' ruling noted Big River Steel's counter argument to Nucor's claim.

"Big River Steel's motion to dismiss is based on the commonsense observations that it cannot be in violation of an emission standard ... because the mill is still under construction and is not operational, so it is not emitting anything; and it cannot be guilty of constructing a major emitting facility without a permit because it has a permit," Holmes wrote.

Nucor also has an appeal pending in state court challenging the state's approval of an air permit for Big River's mill.

Big River Steel broke ground in September at an event attended by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe. It's Arkansas' first "superproject" under a 2004 amendment allowing the state to borrow money to help lure major employers.

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