Archive for Tuesday, November 2, 2010

KDHE Secretary Rod Bremby to leave health department in preparation for new Kansas governor

Bremby played a key role in evaluating proposed southwest Kansas coal power plant

November 2, 2010, 2:42 p.m. Updated November 2, 2010, 5:16 p.m.


— Three years ago, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby shocked the state and nation by denying a permit to Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. for a coal-fired power plant in southwestern Kansas.

Bremby cited the project's carbon dioxide emissions in what was believed to have been the first time a public agency in the United States blocked a coal-fired unit based on its effect on climate change.

On Tuesday, it was announced Bremby was leaving KDHE — before the agency acts on Sunflower’s request for another permit for a proposed 895-megawatt coal-burning plant.

Supporters of the coal plant, which has been blessed by Gov. Mark Parkinson, have said they would like the permit approved before the first of the year, which is when new federal greenhouse gas regulations take effect.

Environmentalists were troubled by the news of Bremby’s departure.

“Secretary Bremby has done a commendable job that has greatly improved the health and environmental quality for Kansans,” said Stephanie Cole, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Sierra Club. “He will certainly be missed. It's discouraging that Secretary Bremby was unable to oversee the work of KDHE without unwarranted obstruction from political and special interests.”

Parkinson's office said the governor offered Bremby the job as “Cabinet Transition Director,” which would assist in the change of administrations over the next two months.

Bremby declined that position, Parkinson spokeswoman Amy Jordan Wooden said. She noted that all cabinet secretaries served at the pleasure of the governor.

Bremby could not be reached for comment.

A KDHE memo about personnel changes noted Bremby’s departure and said that John Mitchell, director of the division of environment, would serve as acting secretary.

On Oct. 18, 2007, Bremby denied a permit sought by Sunflower Electric.

“I believe it would be irresponsible to ignore emerging information about the contribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to climate change and the potential harm to our environment and health if we do nothing,” Bremby had said.

The Kansas Legislature, dominated by supporters of the project, tried to overturn Bremby’s decision with legislation, but each time was thwarted by vetoes by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Parkinson was elevated from lieutenant governor to governor when Sebelius left Kansas in 2009 to become secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Almost immediately Parkinson crafted a deal with Sunflower Electric to bless the project — in exchange for reducing it from two 700-megawatt units and getting legislators to approve renewable energy legislation.

The deal was done, and Sunflower re-entered the permit process. KDHE has announced issuance of a draft permit for the unit near Holcomb.

The last public hearing on the proposal was held last week.


monkeyspunk 7 years, 7 months ago

Check your facts LJWORLD! Bremby declined the position according to the KC Star.

pace 7 years, 7 months ago

The article you cited did not substantiate your remarks. Tea Party? Bremby did a good job with honor. I wish we could say the same for what is coming.

kolisach 7 years, 7 months ago

wow, big news LJWorld (not).

all the appointees will be leaving mid-December anyway.

ilovelucy 7 years, 7 months ago

Congratulations Rod! Thanks for everything you've done for the state of Kansas.

otto 7 years, 7 months ago

Yeah like filing for bankruptcy and letting everyone else pay your bills.

KEITHMILES05 7 years, 7 months ago

He brought disservice to the power plant decision and his department. His own staff recommended approval but he interjected politics are he caved to Kathy Alloverus.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 7 months ago

Could you post this again but in English?

Woodstein 7 years, 7 months ago

LJWorld is only passing along Associated Press story. Topeka Capital Journal has confirmed that Governor removed Mr. Bremby after he declined to run Parkinson's side the transition team for a new Governor - a thankless and tedious task.

Mr. Bremby should be congratulated for remaining in that position for two months shy of two full terms. Something that has never been achieved at KDHE before his tenure. This termination was nothing more than a employee saying no to a work assignment to his employer. Maybe lesson for all of us to heed in this current economy.

prairierose54 7 years, 7 months ago

Gee.....Maybe the data manager in the middle of the lost KDHE data mess can go bye bye now also.

Woodstein 7 years, 7 months ago

Mr. Rothchild - Did you bother to ask why John Mitchell, a life-long bureaucrat at KDHE, was appointed acting-secretary over Deputy Secretary Aaron Dunkel?

This whole termination situation doesn't add up over declining a project. It smacks of political hijinks. Granted the whole administration will turn over in 60 days but it seems petty on the surface.

Perhaps some investigative journalism is in the offing from LJWorld's statehouse reporter?

pace 7 years, 7 months ago

You can disagree with what Bremby stood up for but to say "coward" is just stupid. He stood up, You either have no idea what that takes or you are just yelling names and don't care if your remarks are accurate. My guess is you are a coward and think that is the worst thing to call someone. It is inaccurate, he certainly took the heat. I know reason and accuracy isn't your thing, your feelings are what drives you, but that does allow me to say, well, that is nonsense, but I am sure your really feel that way.

Chris Golledge 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm just wondering why Parkinson would not let Bremby ride out the rest of the term. He's let him do the job he was originally appointed to do up until this point. Parkinson must not want there to be any speed bumps in getting the Holcomb plant approved. So, he wanted Bremby out of the way and offering him a job out of the way was a politically expedient way to get that done. It's spinnable.

From Bremby's perspective, well, most likely he's gone in a couple of months regardless, and the governor is asking him to give up the job he was appointed to do. The transition job looks like a token face-saver. If you are not going to be allowed to continue to do the job you've put your heart into for years, might as well get started on whatever is next.

TNPlates 7 years, 7 months ago

The removal of Bremby is simply Parkinson's way of ensuring his legacy - the permitting/building of the Holcomb Coal Plant. While I thought I'd read Parkinson was going to work for some Nursing Home industry group, perhaps Sunflower Electric made a better offer?

KS 7 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like a Democrat (Parkinson) made a good decision for a change. Bring the coal trains on.

kappelmon 7 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

rhernandez 7 years, 7 months ago

I am proud of Bremby for standing up to the environmental hazards of the coal plant. At least someone has the guts to care more about health and safety than cold hard cash!

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