Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Couple sue state to limit air pollution

May 30, 2007


— With a permit pending on a massive coal-burning power plant in western Kansas, a Lawrence couple have filed a lawsuit demanding that the state limit carbon dioxide emissions.

"The time to act is now," Sarah Dean, an environmentalist and appointee to the governor's Kansas Energy Council, said Tuesday.

Dean and her husband, Ray, said carbon dioxide pollution from coal-fired plants is contributing to catastrophic climate changes. Sarah Dean is a retired agricultural land manager for organic and sustainable farming, while Ray Dean is a professor emeritus in electrical and computer engineering at Kansas University.

"The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is more important than ever. We must turn the tide against global warming, and reducing C02 emissions is an excellent place to begin," Sarah Dean said.

The lawsuit, filed in Shawnee County District Court, states that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is legally required to regulate carbon dioxide.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that greenhouse gas emissions are an air pollutant and ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its refusal to control those emissions.

"KDHE has the legal authority to limit C02 emissions, and it is time to exercise that power," Dean said.

KDHE is considering a request by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build at least two, and possibly three, 700-megawatt coal-fired plants near Holcomb. If built, the plants could pump 15 tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' office declined to comment on the lawsuit because it said the issue was a matter of pending litigation.

Sunflower Electric officials have defended their proposed project, saying the new plants would burn much cleaner than older coal-fired plants.

Last week, Sebelius, other administration officials and leaders of the six largest utilities in Kansas agreed to conservation and wind power goals.

But they said coal-burning plants would continue to be a staple in the state's energy portfolio.

Environmentalists were generally pleased with the agreement but said the goals were too low and would be undone by emissions from the western Kansas project.

The Lawrence City Commission also has voiced disapproval of the Sunflower project, voting 3-2 last year to urge KDHE to deny the permit. In addition, attorneys general from eight states - California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin - have opposed the project.

Previous requests by environmentalists to KDHE to adopt regulations to control carbon dioxide pollution have been ignored. That, combined with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, prompted the Deans to file the suit, attorneys said.

Attorneys in the case for the Deans are Robert Eye, Reid Nelson and John Simpson.


Linda Endicott 10 years, 11 months ago

Seems there are lawyers out there willing to take on any nutty case they find.

What idiots. Don't they realize that they've just guaranteed that Kansas will have to pay out money in legal fees, whether the state wins or not?

And where will that money come from? If Kansas loses, where will the money come from?

The Deans and the rest of the taxpayers.


Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 11 months ago

This couple has the courage of their convictions to take action when they see a wrong that must be righted. That much about them we can appreciate.

KansasMeadowlark 10 years, 11 months ago

Did the Dean's law suit cover bovine flatulence and other emissions?
"The world's 1.3 billion cows (a cow for every five humans) vent about 300,000 billion liters of methane annually. Figures from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate that this source accounts for almost 20 percent of human-related methane emissions - about equal to the proportion from the natural gas and petroleum industries, and not far behind emissions from our ever-burgeoning landfills."

Are the Democrats saying "Beef ... it's not for dinner anymore -- protect the environment." Will Sebelius and Kansas Democrats now try to shut down the Kansas Beef industry?

snowWI 10 years, 11 months ago

Kansas Meadowlark, The proposed Holcomb plants would emit over 10 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. The proposed power plants would be one of the largest new sources of man-made CO2 in the entire country. The propsed power plants have nothing at all to do with cattle. Kansas already has one of the dirtiest power plant complex in the country which is the Jaffrey Energy Center. We do not need even more coal power plants in the state just export it right out to the Front Range to subsidize suburban sprawl there.

gr 10 years, 11 months ago

Whether coal plants are a good idea or not is one thing, but to equate them with global warming is absurd. Seeing that another had already shown man-made global warming has been debunked, has no one told the Deans?! Someone, go tell them! Or at least the judge. If the judge doesn't throw it out as frivilious, someone should sue the judge. Sue the taxpayers = sue yourself = everyone pays for your benefit.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 11 months ago

Does it really matter?

By suing the state, they are screwing over their fellow Kansans. Where do they think the money will come from if they should win?

snowWI 10 years, 11 months ago

gr, Carbon dioxide emissions are increasing exponentially, and the CO2 emissions are measured at a remote observation station in Hawaii. Historically and in the present when CO2 emissions rise at a fast rate the increase in temperatures correlates rather well. Another huge problem with coal plants is that they still emit mercury which goes into the air and then gets into our lakes and rivers. Even the most stringent controls on mercury emissions will not eliminate the problem.

gr 10 years, 10 months ago


I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble relating how your response related to the Senate link. Also, I'm having trouble understanding how your response has anything to do with whether global warming is man-made or not.

Please explain to us.

snowWI 10 years, 10 months ago

gr, Well, I did see the article and "some" scientists are becoming skeptics of global warming. Well, the vast majority of scientists still say that climate change is a big problem. My problem is that coal is still dangerous because of the massive amount of CO2 emissions, mercury, radiation, NO2, and S02. Cleaner sources of generating electricity are prefered such as natural gas and wind. Some states do not even allow coal plants to be built such as California, Idaho, and Vermont. Since their is already a nuclear power plant at Wolf Creek I would not have a huge problem if they expanded the facility. Howver, I have a problem with the proposed Holcomb plants because of the massive CO2 emissions and mercury problems.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years, 10 months ago

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dean,

Please keep your hands out of my pocket. Publicity stunt lawsuits like this do nothing but lighten the wallets of hard working taxpayers. You should be ashamed of yourselves for going this route. Causing an additional burden to taxpayers is hardly noble.

preebo 10 years, 10 months ago

I happen to know the Deans and have encouraged their actions thus far. I am not their attorney, but they have full support from my office and the entire Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club.

"Does it really matter?

By suing the state, they are screwing over their fellow Kansans. Where do they think the money will come from if they should win?" - CrazyKs

They are not screwing their fellow Kansans, quite the opposite actually. In fact, they are fighting for their fellow residents. A clean renewable source of energy would benefit every single Kansan, Liberal and Conservative. It is as simple as that.

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years, 10 months ago

I feel saddened by the Neanderthals posting here who think global warming is a massive hoax perpetrated by all of the world's best scientists and the media. Reality must be a truly miserable place for them, with their ideologically-twisted fantasy view continually under assault by truth, science and reason. It's no wonder they tend to lash out at others with the simplicity and anger of confused children.

Thanks Deans. All Kansans owe you a debt of gratitude, even the unfortunate simpletons who lash out at you for your good deed without knowing better.

pelliott 10 years, 10 months ago

At least someone cares that kansas is willing to sell the very air we breath for any dirty buck they can get. I hope they are successful.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

Well, in order for the Deans to have their happy little lawsuit, the state is funding their defense with taxpayer dollars, which few of us can afford as it is.

And I don't see them winning, anyway. Seems to me that their time, effort, and money (not to mention my money) could have been better spent in educating others about the problems, or perhaps in publicly protesting the plant.

Now that could have made the news, big time.

Instead, they get shuffled to the lost pages of the newspaper called "frivolous lawsuits"...

gr 10 years, 10 months ago


"Well, the vast majority of scientists still say "

And that "vast majority" said the sun revolved around the earth. When has the majority been right? What is "vast" - 51%, 66%, 75%?

At the beginning, it was only a few, but people seem quick to believe the world is falling and keep repeating it to the point that anyone who wants grant funding has to start jumping up and down repeating the same thing whether the believe it or not.

"My problem is that coal is still dangerous because of the massive amount of CO2 emissions,"

But CO2 is not dangerous and not massive. It is only "massive" when compared to certain specific things dishonest persons make use of. Such as babboy said, "You dislike the creative efforts of someone trying to stop them." Key word: Creative efforts.
Dishonest efforts.
The ends justifies the means, huh?

"mercury, radiation, NO2, and S02." Now you lump poisonous things with good and necessary CO2. That's not very honest. You seem to have done this over and over. The topic is if humans are causing global warming. You seem to want to talk about if there is a better way to generate energy that is better for the environment. While the two could be "construed" to be related, they are not. As I have said many times, I'm all for reducing pollution. CO2 is NOT pollution. The amount we generate does NOT cause global warming. Pollution is NOT related to global warming.

If you want to talk about how Coal plants produce toxic substances and every effort should be made to find alternative means, that's great. Just don't try to lump it with the cost of eggs in China or whatnot. It's NOT related and as you have seen, you cannot substantiate the relationship. Every time you are ask how it is related, you trail off on there are cleaner sources and how the earth is warming when comparing the near past. Fine. Talk about searching for cleaner sources. Talk about earth warming cycles. You would do more good in advocating those things. But when you make a dishonest attempt to relate it to something that is not related, you dilute your efforts and make yourself come across as a wacko. I'll say it again - when "vast amount" of scientists find global warming is NOT happening, then with what you've beens saying, you'll have lost your point of finding alternative energy sources.

By all means, look for better energy sources, less polluting energy sources, ways to keep toxic substances out of the environment and from being injected into our bodies. Just DON'T relate it to global warming, the price of eggs in China, how computers are going to fall out of the sky in the year 2000, or any other absurd relationship.


preebo: "In fact, they are fighting for their fellow residents. "

Wonderful. Anyone come up with a reason to sue and profit, and spin it as "fighting for their fellow residents".

snowWI 10 years, 10 months ago

gr, Actually, their is a difference between naturally occuring carbon dioxide and human-generated CO2 that spews from coal fired power plants. Carbon dioxide is still a greenhouse gas and the proposed Holcomb plants would be the largest new man-made source of CO2 emissions in the entire country at well over 10 million tons per year. The fact is that these CO2 emissions CAN NOT be reduced because the Sunflower Electric Cooperative firm is still using outdated pulverized coal technology that will immediately become obsolete if the plants are commissioned. I think it is the responsiblity of Kansas to be a global steward to the environment and not point fingers at developing countries even while a coal power plant complex is still being debated. Another problem that others have pointed out is the rising cost of transporting coal because of the large distances involved and the probability that a carbon tax will be imposed in the near future. Like I said before many other states are looking to alternatives besides pulverized coal power plants. Natural gas, while expensive, is much cleaner than coal and the toxic mercury problem is eliminated when natural gas is used. Other states rely much more heavily on hydro, nuclear, and natural gas to generate electricity compared with Kansas. I would prefer to see any alternative used besides coal for the most part. Another thing that has been mentioned was economic development. Well, the majority of people living in rural areas of western Kansas have been leaving those areas to find jobs in the urban areas for MANY years. In fact some counties have lost over 10% of their population in the last 6 years alone. Do these people in western Kansas really believe that coal power plant jobs will lead to people staying in the region? The facts are that many counties in the western part of the state have fewer people living in the counties now compared with over 100 years ago. The large numbers of people that settled in the area was one of the results of the Homestead Act that came out of the 1860s.

gr 10 years, 10 months ago

Except for the trivial information about CO2 (which do I admit, you didn't relate to global warming), I see you have abandoned saying coal plants cause global warming. Keep that up, and who knows, maybe someone will listen to you and begin to think you have a good point against coal plants and for renewable energy

snowWI 10 years, 10 months ago

It is time for you to do some reading gr. The concentration of CO2 in the atmoshpere from natural sources as well as strong contriubtions from man have exponentially increased to the highest level now in hundreds of thousands of years. We can analyze data this far back because of analysis done involving ice core samples that give us a good idea of CO2 concentrations. Also, their are now remote observing stations such as Mauna Loa in Hawaii that automatically detect fluctuations in the CO2 levels in the atmoshphere. A strong link emerges when overall CO2 levels exponentially increased following the time period of the industrial revolution. Once the CO2 levels started spiking the average global temperature has increased as well. The coorelation is there. Also, you ignored my other comment regarding the proposed Holcomb plants. Pulverized coal technology is still being used and this technology will be immediately outdated if the plants are commissioned. Other technologies are still "developing" regarding coal gasification technology that has the potential to capture and the store the CO2 in the ground. Mercury, NO2, SO2, and radiation will still exist with the proposed plants as well, but hopefully in lesser concentrations compared with the massively outdated Westar coal plants that already exist in Kansas that were built in the 1950s in Topeka and Lawrence. I just find it quite disturbing that the utilities continue to push for coal plants with obsolete technologies that will generate in unacceptable 10 million tons of CO2 annually. The problem I have with this is that Kansas is part of the tri-state electric cooperative region. Kansas has fewere environmental regulations so if the electric demand suddenly increasing greatly in the Front Range, Kansas must pay the environmental consequences. I think individual states should decide what sources of energy to use to produce electricity. Energy efficiency programs can and will slow demand growth down as well if they are implemented appropriately. Here are the links:

gr 10 years, 10 months ago

"The concentration of CO2 in the atmoshpere from natural sources as well as strong contriubtions from man have exponentially increased to the highest level now in hundreds of thousands of years."

I believe that's true, but not relevant.

"...Once the CO2 levels started spiking the average global temperature has increased as well. The coorelation is there."

All very interesting, but what does that have with man causing it?

"Also, you ignored my other comment regarding the proposed Holcomb plants." I don't believe I ignored it, but if I didn't swoon after it as much as you expected, perhaps it could be because the question of coal plants have nothing to do with global warming nor significant CO2 levels. Although asked multitudes of times, you've shown that.

"I just find it quite disturbing that the utilities continue to push for coal plants...." Yaaawwwwn. Why don't you talk about bees being eliminated, the price of milk, pesticides, landfill overflow, etc., etc. When you are ready to talk about how we are causing global warming, wake me up.

Links of relevance?

Your first link shows pretty graph. Awwww. I notice it starts at 1830. Why start there? Is it because that shows a great upswing whereas earlier times wouldn't? I see from about 8,200 years ago, CO2 was about the same level and from about 130,000 years ago, it may have even been higher. Then, there's lots of chicken little scare tactics on your link. To bad it doesn't make any connection between us causing it.

Your second link as a chart that goes back further. How come it doesn't match the link I gave? Which is the REAL one? Or is each one different depending on one's viewpoint? I don't know if you were one, but someone said it was an established FACT that we are causing global warming and is beyond debate. However, from your link: "The extent to which that impact is felt is debatable, ".
It did have a reference regarding CO2 causing warming (did not say man is causing), unfortunately, the reference link is no longer valid.

Your third link is interesting as I had read previously. Which is the REAL science? I would think it could be easily determined. Personally, I don't give much credence to sites and articles that use scaremongering tactics. Your link sounds just like you. It says that CO2 is related to warming, there was a spike correlating with the industrial revolution, THEREFORE we must reduce emissions. (If A=B, THEREFORE A=C)

gr 10 years, 10 months ago

A question I would ask you is how come the winters cool if all that heat can't get past the CO2? Isn't that a lot of heat loss? Where does it go if it's supposed to be causing a net affect?

Since you seem to like mis-matching correlations links, here's a climate link for you:

And then there's
We've been cooling for millions of years (so it says), why do you think we can prevent cycles? And, suggested from that link, volcanoes could completely undo any "peeing in the ocean" that we prevent.

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