Topeka — The Kansas Supreme Court is taking over two appeals filed in lower courts contesting the state's denial of an air-quality permit for two proposed coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas.
Chief Justice Kay McFarland signed an order Tuesday transferring to the high court cases filed with the state Court of Appeals and Finney County District Court by Sunflower Electric Power Corp.
The appeals seek to overturn a decision by Rod Bremby, secretary of health and environment, to deny a permit for the $3.6 billion project in Holcomb.
Bremby rejected the permit Oct. 18, citing the plants' potential carbon dioxide emissions. Many scientists consider CO2 a major contributor to global warming, but the state doesn't regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
Mark Calcara, Sunflower's vice president and general counsel, said Thursday the court's action indicated the importance of the issue and its potential "far-reaching implications" on the utility, other industry and the public.
"We firmly believe the KDHE decision was wrong and far exceeded the department's authority under law," Calcara said in a statement. "Clearly, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to resolve the regulatory uncertainty now negatively impacting the state."
KDHE spokesman Mike Heideman said the agency was notified Wednesday that the justices had taken the cases. KDHE has declined previously to comment on the merits of the appeals.
The cases include appeals filed by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc., of Westminster, Colo., the Finney County Commission and Garden City Chamber of Commerce, said Sunflower spokesman Steve Miller.
Hays-based Sunflower already had filed an appeal with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment asking Bremby to reverse his decision and to hold public hearings for more discussion. Sunflower's partners in the project are Colorado's Tri-State and Golden Spread Electric Cooperative, of Amarillo, Texas.
No date has been set for hearings or to submit briefs in the cases.