Sierra Club wants hearings on new coal-plant proposal

June 22, 2009, 2:41 p.m. Updated June 22, 2009, 4:06 p.m.


— Environmentalists on Monday demanded that the state hold public hearings on Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s new proposal to build an 895-megawatt coal-burning power plant in southwest Kansas.

“Building a massive, new polluting coal facility will have serious long-term consequences for Kansas, and the public’s voice should be heard on such an important matter,” said Stephanie Cole, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Sierra Club.

In 2006, Hays-based Sunflower applied for a permit to build three 700-megawatt coal-burning plants near Holcomb. Sunflower then reduced it to two plants. In 2007, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby denied the permit, citing health and environmental concerns from the project’s climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

The issue was fought over for two legislative sessions until Gov. Mark Parkinson took office in April. He negotiated a closed-door agreement with Sunflower to allow one 895-megawatt plant.

The Sierra Club said public scrutiny of the new proposal is needed because it is vastly different from the earlier one, and three years have passed since the initial public comment period. The organization wants hearings to be held in Lawrence, Topeka and Garden City -- similar to a public hearing schedule that was undertaken when Sunflower initially applied for project permits.

In the first go-round, the Lawrence hearing was so crowded that KDHE had to hold two hearings.

Cindy Hertel, a spokeswoman for Sunflower, said the company was in the process of re-submitting information to KDHE but didn’t know if there would be a new application process.

“We will do whatever is necessary as the rules require,” she said. KDHE said it received a revised permit application Friday.

Parkinson’s office said the governor believes public input is an important part of the process “and he trusts that KDHE will allow for public input when it is appropriate.”


tunahelper 8 years, 5 months ago

environ-whackos are gonna lose. get over it, the coal plant will be built.

p.s. move back to california and new york, you are not welcome here. silly leftists.

newmedia 8 years, 5 months ago

Given the state of the wacko's in the current day and age if Sunflower says they will do what the rules require I am inclined to believe they will do just that in order to get the plant built.

labmonkey 8 years, 5 months ago

The Sierra Club needs to realize that a majority of the public wants this plant. They only speak for a small minority of Kansans.

blakus 8 years, 5 months ago

Living in Wyoming, one of the more conservative states in the US and the largest energy producer (like coal, natural gas, etc.), I have seen the tides turn when it comes to energy production. Wyoming is going wind-wild.... why? I don't know for sure, but it is interesting that a state that puts out so much raw energy for the rest of the US would start the transition to wind. Heck, they just passed a law allowing individuals to install large wind turbines on their own property, even in cities. And trust me, Wyomingites give the same thought to 'leftists' as tunahelper does. But yet, it isn't considered 'left' to care about the environment in Wyoming.

Chris Golledge 8 years, 5 months ago

MM, I don't know; what makes you think there has to be only one force influencing the earth's temperature? What makes you think that the little CO2 molecules absorbing IR radiation care whether they came to be in the atmosphere as a result of plate tectonics over millions of years (for instance) or billions of little humans burning fossil fuels over decades?

All your citations mean is that the shift from one climate pattern to another can be abrupt.

Bill Griffith 8 years, 5 months ago

 Asking for public input in a proposal that involves health and the environment is understandable.  I am puzzled why anyone would oppose this.  It will be interesting to see if Bremby opposes this permit and the governor-which will probably lose him his job as KDHE Secretary.

swku 8 years, 4 months ago

The new sunflower plant will generate 1,500 new jobs at its peek. I'm sorry but being born and raised in Garden City Kansas, I know from personal experience that those jobs are much needed and welcomed.

If you guys want to boycott something why don't you focus on the Westar Energy Plant right outside of Lawrence that is ranked on of the dirtiest coal plants in the United States.

Sunflower is going above and beyond to make Kansas residents happy and meet the requirements put in place for them.

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