Archive for Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Statehouse Live: Kansas officials express unhappiness with EPA over greenhouse gas rule

January 26, 2011


— A state environmental regulator on Wednesday criticized the federal EPA over the implementation of a new greenhouse gas rule.

Tom Gross, with the Bureau of Air for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said it was difficult to get information from EPA, and the federal agency changed major deadlines several times over the so-called “tailoring rule.”

“The whole process was incredibly frustrating,” Gross told the House Energy and Utilities Committee. “We told them a few words we can’t repeat,” he said.

Under the new greenhouse gas rule, new or expanding facilities must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiencies to minimize greenhouse gas increases.

Gross said he admired a letter that the attorney general of Texas wrote to EPA in which Texas vowed to fight the agency over the greenhouse gas rules. Gross said he didn’t think it was going to do Texas any good to battle the EPA in court.

“We do that in our own way pretty much every single day,” he said, referring to enforcement actions and permit timelines.

In December, KDHE issued a permit for a controversial 895-megawatt coal-fired plant in southwestern Kansas. EPA has said it will review whether the proposal complies with the law, and environmentalists have filed a lawsuit challenging the permit, alleging it fails to control hazardous pollutants, and the permitting process was improperly influenced by supporters of the project. KDHE has said the permit meets all state and federal requirements.

Rep. Joe Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie, a member of the House energy committee, said it seemed that while EPA wants to reduce coal-burning electric power facilities, it has no plan on replacing that capacity or knowledge about how expensive electricity will get.

Other committee members also expressed frustration with the EPA.

“I’ve heard this referred to federal blackmail,” said committee vice chair Forrest Knox, R-Altoona. “Is that what it is, or federal extortion?”

Gross said of EPA: “It would sure seem like they have a serious agenda against coal-fired power plants.”

A spokesman for the EPA Region 7 office in Kansas City, Kan., released a statement that said the office worked closely with KDHE “to establish the framework for the Clean Air Act permitting programs to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

“EPA will continue to provide guidance and act as a resource for the states as we work together to make the various required permitting decisions for greenhouse gas emissions.”


itwasthedukes 7 years, 4 months ago

EPA overreach? Federal overreach? No can't happen in America, check your facts.

skull 7 years, 4 months ago

Yeah. Stick it to the man... by building an outdated power plant that supplies electricity to Colorado and leaving us with the pollution.

How you like that EPA?

Clark Coan 7 years, 4 months ago

Why is our air and streams so polluted? Because state regulators are pressured by powerful economic interests such as the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Kansas Farm Bureau to not enforce the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.

question4u 7 years, 4 months ago

What's the big deal? This is Kansas. The laws of physics don't apply here, therefore there are no greenhouse gases to worry about.

WoodyPfister 7 years, 4 months ago

The President said he would impose requirements that would bankrupt any company that wanted to build a coal fired power plant:

Is it any wonder that his bureaucrats at EPA are still trying to shut the Sunflower plant down?

tolawdjk 7 years, 4 months ago

EPA is trying to shut this one down? When did they file a Section 167 stop work order to Sunflower?

Sunflower got their PSD permit issued by a SIP approved state. Sierra Club can go pound sand according to what I've read of their filings. EPA isn't going to issue a 167 to Sunflower any day of the week.

TopJayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

You can't really expect anything else from the EPA. Is is even worse now that they are in the hip pocket of the Obaminator. We all have seen how corrupt the science and all the info is on global warming.

WoodyPfister 7 years, 4 months ago

Whoa tolawdjk your post sounds like you reside in the belly of the beast.

tolawdjk 7 years, 4 months ago

You might think that but its amazing how one can sound when one educates oneself on the subject rather than spouting out talking points and soundbites.

Fact is, the ability of EPA to stop the activity of legally issued PSD permit from a SIP approved state is pretty damn hard. Sunflower would have to commit some pretty egregious activity before it would get that far.

If this project doesn't get built, it will not be because of EPA, KDHE, or the Sierra Club. Not at this point. In order to retain their permit, Sunflower needs to commence construction withing 18 months off the issuance date and not allow 18 months to lapse without some kind of construction occurring.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

So, the guy from KDHE cursed at the EPA, and battles them pretty much every day, according to him.

Anybody else think this is perhaps not the kind of relationship we want between our state agency that's supposed to protect our health and environment and the federal agency designed to do the same thing?

WoodyPfister 7 years, 4 months ago

I don't know. If EPA can retroactively cancel the coal mine permit in West Virginia, they might have some ability to block this Kansas permit, especially teamed up with the East Coast/West Coast Sierra Club bunch.

tolawdjk 7 years, 4 months ago

The coal mine permit was federal issued. The Sunflower permit is state issued. Big difference. I think, in order to pull a state permit, the feds would have to determine that the permit was fundamentally flawed at some level, or pull a Texas and say that the states program was deficient and pull the whole program. Then it could probably call into question any permit issued by that program.

In my research, I haven't run across one PSD permit where EPA nulled the permit before the plant was built. Sure, they have issued numerous compliance orders for violations of failure to obtain a permit and failure to comply with the permit once built, but never before the plant was up and operating. The Clean Air Act does allow it, though. There are some pretty broad powers granted under the CAA.

However, as I just read KAR 28-19-350 (j) it looks like the Secretary is the only one that can revoke or suspend a permit in Kansas. Kansas didn't adopt the recension portions of 52.21, but those only apply to sources permitted prior to 1987.

The only way to kill this permit is for the Secretary to revoke or for Sunflower to let it expire by failure to construct.

WoodyPfister 7 years, 4 months ago

All I can say is there will be some pissed off hippies at the Sierra Club if the EPA fails them.

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