Topeka — Developers of the rejected $3.6 billion coal-fired power plants in western Kansas filed legal appeals Friday in what is expected to be a massive court battle.
"We are confident that the courts will overturn this arbitrary and capricious decision," said Mark Calcara, vice president and general counsel for Sunflower Electric Power Corp.
Last month, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby rejected two 700-megawatt plants near Holcomb, citing concerns with carbon dioxide emissions and global warming.
Hays-based Sunflower, co-owner of one of the plants, and Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission, owner of the other plant, filed lawsuits against KDHE in Finney County and the Kansas Court of Appeals. The companies want Bremby to reverse his decision and grant permits for the plants.
The companies claim Bremby's decision was unlawful because neither the state nor the federal government regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Sunflower says it complied with all regulations that are in place.
"Tri-State believes the denial order is flawed, and we fully expect the courts will reverse the decision," said Lee Boughey, Tri-State's public relations manager. "Our case is strong and firmly rooted in Kansas law."
But in his order denying the permits for the plants, Bremby said he had wide discretion under state law to protect the health of Kansans and the environment. Combined, the plants were projected to emit 11 million tons of CO2 annually.
The companies, however, said in the lawsuit: "The Denial Order does not articulate any basis for the Secretary's finding that carbon dioxide emissions from the proposed Power Plants would pose a 'substantial endangerment to the health of persons or to the environment' of Kansas."
KDHE spokesman Joe Blubaugh said the agency couldn't comment on the lawsuits.