A circuit court judge in Kansas City has issued a temporary injunction ordering two news sites to remove articles from their web sites published Friday about the city's Board of Public Utilities on the grounds the power company would be "irreparably harmed" by their publication.

The articles, published by the Kansas City Star and The Pitch, describe a confidential document produced for the company in November 2004 that evaluates whether to tell the EPA that power plant upgrades did not comply with the federal Clean Air Act.

Attorney Stanley A. Reigel, in a 15-page document, identified 73 repairs or upgrades that were constructed without permits required under the Clean Air Act passed in 1977, according to The Pitch.

The work was done at the utility's three power plants: Nearman Creek Power Station, Quindaro Power Station and the now-closed Kaw Power Station. The work was completed between January 1980 and November 2004. Reigel determined that 15 of those repairs and upgrades were "questionable" and another 15 projects would be "probably not defensible" if the EPA conducted an audit.

Any one of those projects "puts BPU at risk" for an audit by the EPA, Reigel warned. Fines for utility companies in similar cases amounted to $1,000 for each megawatt of energy produced by the plant. Together, the Nearman and Quindaro plants produce 631 megawatts.

The stories had been cached on Google and elsewhere by the time Judge Kelly Moorhouse issued the unconstitutional order, making her actions utterly futile. Bloggers Brad Friedman and Justin McLachlan have reprinted them on First Amendment grounds.

Ironically, Judge Moorhouse graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia, home to one of the country's most prestigious schools of journalism

.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

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