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Sam Ochoa of Bastrop runs a dozer in the pit of the Powell Bend Mine. regulatory environment” had created “unexpected and costly requirements” before mining could begin. Soderberg said greater scrutiny of mining plans by state regulators and citizens’ groups would prevent the LCRA from opening a larger mine on the leases. Second, the lignite reserves south of Steiner Ranch could not be profitably mined, according to Soderberg’s letter. The lignite was in the Colorado River food plain, the general manager wrote, and had been pitted and carved by earlier mines. Also, there wasn’t enough coal in that region to “take advantage of the economics of scale available with current mining technology.” Third, the LCRA could not use the lignite even if it could be mined, according to Soderberg. The 200,000 tons of lignite to be taken from the Steiner Ranch and shipped to the Fayette Power Project \(jointly owned with the put to “practical use.” As a result, Soderberg wrote, “LCRA proposes to release and surrender all of the lignite leases it now holds in the Powell Bend area outside” the Steiner Ranch. Soderberg offered either to pay the 50-cent-per-ton royalty if the LCRA ever re-leased and used that lignite, or to give the leases back to TU. Soderberg’s letter merely repeated the problems found with the Bastrop leases in the authority’s 1980 analysis. In his last sentence of the letter, the general manager wrote that he hoped TU “will not object to the action . . . LCRA plans to take.” If Soderberg had decided by September 21 that LCRA would drop the vast majority of leases it held in Bastrop County, this was not the impression he was giving the public, the CTLW, the LCRA board or Bastrop County. In a September 18, 1984 article in the Austin American-Statesman, Soderberg was quoted saying the LCRA “still want[s] to maintain leases in the [Bastrop County] area in case something happens . . . For one thing, once we have found a fuel supply, we hate to pass up the opportunity to have it as a future option.” He went on to repeat the discredited reasoning that led LCRA to buy the lignite leases in the first place. But this was only LCRA’s public stance. In secret, the authority continued to negotiate with TU. By October 31, the deal was cut. J. S. Farrington for Texas Utilities signed a contract on that date that would allow LCRA to drop all the leases acquired from TU outside the 956-acre permit on the Steiner Ranch. No one, not the LCRA board, the public, not the Lignite Watch of the City of Bastrop \(which had joined all of agreement. Two days later, Lowerre filed a lawsuit in federal district court in a final effort to stall the opening of the Powell Bend mine. It was his last and, Lowerre thought, his best lick, so the environmental attorney was not surprised when LCRA attorney Thomas Sedberry, of the Austin firm of Small, Craig and Werkenthin, came to him to talk about settlement. Over the next ten days, Sedberry and other LCRA attorneys met with Lowerre to talk about settling the suit, which was scheduled to be heard by a federal judge on November 15, the same day the LCRA board was to meet. Lowerre first asked that the authority cancel all plans for mining in exchange for his dropping the suit, according to the CTLW and Bastrop attorney. The LCRA countered by saying the authority might agree to drop some of the leases if the suit were withdrawn. Lowerre then asked that all the leases outside the Steiner Ranch be dropped. The LCRA attorneys hesitated, Lowerre says, and argued that they would have a hard time getting such a drastic proposal past the board. Finally, the LCRA attorneys agreed to Lowerre’s proposal the same proposal that Soderberg had demanded from TU in September and on Thursday morning, just before the board was to open its November meeting, the two parties agreed to a settlement. The LCRA would drop all leases south of the Steiner Ranch and would apply for a disputed water permit if Lowerre would call off his suits against the Powell Bend mine. When the LCRA staff presented the recommendation that the leases be dropped to the authority’s board, however, there was little mention of 12 MARCH 8, 1985