Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2011

Westar says it can’t comply with EPA’s new pollution rules

July 21, 2011


— It will be "impossible" for the state's largest electric company to comply with new federal pollution regulations scheduled to take effect in January, Westar Energy's top air-quality official said.

The new rules will require Westar to reduce emissions from two smog- and soot-producing pollutants by more than 10,000 tons a year.

"As far as we're concerned, there's no way we can comply with this rule on Jan. 1," said Bill Eastman, director of air programs for Westar. "It's too soon and it's too quick ... It literally appears right now impossible."

The regulations are designed to reduce pollution that drifts across state borders and makes it difficult for downwind cities to meet air quality standards, The Wichita Eagle reported Thursday. Power plants in 27 states are covered by the regulations.

Eastman and other Westar officials decided the utility can't meet the deadline after analyzing the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule announced July 7 by the Environmental Protection Agency. The utility said complying with the rules will cost Westar customers $1.5 billion — and that figure could increase if Westar has to buy pollution credits or pay fines.

The company already has a plan for emission reduction and believes it could meet the new requirements by 2015, Eastman said.

From 2012 until the plants are in compliance, Westar might have to buy pollution "credits" from other power plants or pay millions of dollars in fines to the EPA.

Ordinarily, the company can't pass fines on to customers but state regulators might allow it if Westar could prove that it was impossible to avoid the penalty, said David Springe, chief consumer counsel for the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board.

The regulations cover sulfur dioxide, known as SO2, and nitrogen oxide, or NOX.

According to company records, Westar currently produces 19,045 tons of SO2 and 30,802 tons of NOX a year. The new limit will be 18,932 tons of SO2 and 20,549 tons of NOX by 2012. By 2014, the company will have to further reduce its NOX emissions to 17,105 tons a year.

The EPA contends the new rules will prevent as many as 34,000 premature deaths, while also substantially reducing heart attacks, acute bronchitis, aggravated asthma and other breathing problems.

David Bryan, a spokesman for the EPA's Region 7 office in Kansas City, Kan., said the agency believes "that all the sources (of pollution) will be able to meet deadlines."

"The final rule does give each source the flexibility to choose how they will comply," he said. "They can run existing (emission) controls or those expected to come on line in the future. They can make changes in the way electricity is distributed across their facility. They can buy allowances, among other things."

Under the new rules, Kansas power plants are given a total pollution allowance of 40,697 tons of SO2. In 2010, they produced 45,251 tons.

The state produced 48,938 tons of NOX last year. The new rules will require that amount be reduced to 30,100 tons of NOX next year and to 25,049 tons by 2014, said Tom Gross, chief of monitoring and planning for the Bureau of Air at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

In the last five years, Kansas utilities have reduced SO2 emissions by more than 91,000 tons a year and NOX by nearly 40,000 tons, according to federal records.


Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Mayor Bloomberg donated $50 million to Sierra Club for the purpose of closing down coal fired plants according to radio news this AM.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy. * [See Editor's Note at end of page 2]

At issue is coal's content of uranium and thorium, both radioactive elements. They occur in such trace amounts in natural, or "whole," coal that they aren't a problem. But when coal is burned into fly ash, uranium and thorium are concentrated at up to 10 times their original levels.

Fly ash uranium sometimes leaches into the soil and water surrounding a coal plant, affecting cropland and, in turn, food. People living within a "stack shadow"—the area within a half- to one-mile (0.8- to 1.6-kilometer) radius of a coal plant's smokestacks—might then ingest small amounts of radiation. Fly ash is also disposed of in landfills and abandoned mines and quarries, posing a potential risk to people living around those areas.

Scientific American

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Westar is concerned about CEO salaries,golden parchutes,shareholders,BOD salaries and who knows maybe a corp jet or two.

The answers: 1. Cut CEO salary by 75%
2. Place a moratorium on SHAREHOLDER dividends 3. remove all golden parachutes 4. Cut BOD salaries 75% 5. Sell off corp jets 6. Cut all pay outs to political campaigns

  • The insurance industry won’t insure against coal power plant accidents. Coal power plant operators rely on a government-backed "Price-Anderson" insurance scheme that limits their liability in the event of an accident or attack.

And Expensive Too!

* The Department of Energy admits that "Economic viability for a coal plant is difficult to demonstrate. This industry has been propped up by huge government subsidies = ratepayers own these monsters. I say fire the CEO's and BOD's.

Throwing more tax dollars at coal power will not make it safer, cleaner or more economical. Further, these subsidies to a mature industry distort electricity markets by granting coal power an unfair and undesirable advantage over safe, clean energy alternatives.

tolawdjk 6 years, 11 months ago

"Eastman and other Westar officials decided the utility can't meet the deadline after analyzing the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule announced July 7 by the Environmental Protection Agency. The utility said complying with the rules will cost Westar customers $1.5 billion — and that figure could increase if Westar has to buy pollution credits or pay fines."

This makes no sense. They say that they can't comply. But complying will cost $1.5 billion (which they say they can't do). And, if they have to buy credits or pay fines (which you have to do if you can't comply) it will cost more than the $1.5 billion cost to comply.

Then they go onto say that they can comply, but 2015. What happens between 2012 and 2015 that allows compliance? How does 3 years allow you to reduce pollution?

The only thing I can figure is that on a purely technical basis, they can comply, but on a monetary basis compliance will take more time than the rule allows. So Westar is really saying they need more time to comply with the new rule.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Our Beyond Coal campaign, one of the most successful in Sierra Club history, is poised for a major breakthrough in our efforts to create a clean energy economy. I am absolutely thrilled to have you be the first to know about our new partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the foundation of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The foundation has committed $50 million to support our Beyond Coal campaign!

This is a game changer. It will build on all of your hard work and success in protecting our communities from the ravages of coal pollution. Check out the message from Mayor Bloomberg below as we take the Beyond Coal Campaign to a whole new level.

Thank you.

Michael Brune Sierra Club Executive Director ========================= Dear Friends,

As the Mayor of New York City, I know first-hand the effects of air pollution on a community. I have been working for years on initiatives to clean our air, prevent climate change, and create a clean energy future.

As a New Yorker, I'm pretty hard to surprise. But as I have been watching the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign do the unthinkable -- stop over 150 coal plants from being built over the past several years -- I have been truly impressed. The power of Sierra Club members and supporters from around the country to lead their communities beyond dirty coal is just astounding. And I want to join this growing movement.

As of today, Bloomberg Philanthropies is committing $50 million to the Beyond Coal Campaign. Together we can build an unprecedented level of support in local communities to get off of coal and usher in a new era of clean energy innovation and jobs.

I'm doing my part to move our country Beyond Coal. Are you with me?

Join me by making your own pledge to do a specific activity in your community to move us to a clean energy future.

We're not waiting for Washington. Moving away from coal will save us money -- the costs of coal are going up while wind and solar are coming down. What's more, coal causes over $100 billion in health costs each year. Mining, burning, and disposing of coal are very costly to our health and our pocketbooks. Wind and sunshine are free.

I'm committed to this fight. I believe in the power of this grassroots movement to fight climate change and bring about our clean energy future. I know communities across America are ready to continue the work that will lift up the world we live in, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the families we raise.

Whether it's writing a letter to your newspaper, recruiting ten of your friends and family to get involved or volunteering a couple hours a week at your local campaign office, tell us what you will do to move the U.S. Beyond Coal.

Thank you for inspiring me.

Sincerely, Mayor Michael Bloomberg Sierra Club Supporter

Carol Bowen 6 years, 11 months ago

Westar's has raised a defense similar to the debate over the federal debt ceiling. Why is it,again, we should raise the ceiling on air pollutants. Westar has known about the problem for a long timer. Westar should just deal with it.

gccs14r 6 years, 11 months ago

That's where a big chunk of Westar's (our) money is going. Let's filter the smokestack emissions through his house and make him earn some of that money he's getting. Any leftover soot can go through Brownback's house until he rescinds the wind turbine moratorium.

Mercy 6 years, 11 months ago

These new rules enacted by the EPA are are not based on sound science as goes the whole Global Warming theory. Why do we need take money out of the pocket of every US citizen to attempt to mitigate ghost problems generated by these these theories in this terrible economy. Let's focus on real problems! Why not spend a fraction of this cost to help provide food and clean water to people in this world. These issues actually effect people's life and well being.

tolawdjk 6 years, 11 months ago

These particular rules have -zero- to do with global warming. If you would bother to educate yourself for five minutes, you would know that. NOx and SO2 are not precursers to GHG, nor are they GHG's themselves. If they were, the rules would not apply to only the 72 eastern half states. These rules are addressing pollution transport and the fact that power plant emissions emitted in the central US (from Ohio for example) cause problems in the NE. The states in the NE have zero ability to address the causes of those emissions while attempting to address their air quality issues in thier states.

Further any arguement to not take money out of the pocket of every US citizen (and this isn't everyone as there are numerous power plants -not- effected by this rule in the 23 non-effected states) and put that money towards "clean water for the people of the world"...well, its just plain laughable.

socnick 6 years, 11 months ago

What deep ocean vent colony did you evolve from? I want to study this creature who has the capacity to use a keyboard yet be able to thrive solely on food and water. Scientists will likely want to know what type of respiration you do as an organism. I am guessing you have evolved a unique and efficient anaerobic respiration system that has the ability to support a fairly large organism for that type of respiration. Wow, it is so cool that there is a keyboard able species that doesn't require air for it's life or well being!

I wish the rest of us humans and other organisms had no need to worry about our measly dependence on air. Thank you for again verifying that evolution is real and is happening right now!

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 11 months ago

Merely claiming rules are based on unsound science doesn't make it so. All I know is corporations are "permited" to belch pollution into the sky. Why don't they have to pay for the right to do this? The science is clear that this pollution increases asthma attacks, heart attacks and many other health problems. Why should they be allowed to harm people's health? At least gravel companies pay a few dollars per ton of sand they extract from the Kansas River. Why doesn't Westar have to pay a few dollars per ton of pollution they belch? The money collected from this "carbon tax" could be used to pay for the Health Care Act at least in part. Mercy, you're a fool!

mother_gma 6 years, 11 months ago

It never seems to amaze me that if a large, deep-pocket business or industry such as Westar fails to meet a regulatory deadline like pollutant modifications, most likely the cost related to penalties will be passed on to the consumer. However, let those same consumers fail to meet a regulatory deadline of any nature and no one else is going to bail them out!! Government and 'big' business don't have to play by the same rules as the public consumers in this country.

conservative 6 years, 11 months ago

Lj world once again i beg you to give an ignore function so that individuals can choose to always hide comments from people they don't want to see. I usually access the paper through my phone and merril's constant bombardment of every topic with his endless cut/paste drivel takes me longer to scroll through than most of the articles.

50YearResident 6 years, 11 months ago

Well, this brings up the wuestion: Can the new coal fired plants of Western Kansas meet these standards? And they are not even built yet.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 11 months ago

If I remember correctly, there was a rush to get those power plants approved before the new regulations took effect.

jmadison 6 years, 11 months ago

Barack Obama in San Francisco, 2008: "Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket," Obama told the Chronicle . "Coal-powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers."

portstorm 6 years, 11 months ago

I happen to know a team of engineering companies have been trying to sell Westar these exact emission control systems for close to 10 years. Westar saw no benefit to improving their emission control capabilities.

So yeah, it's impossible because they intentionally chose not to install anything remotely modern for a decade.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Westar executives and shareholders must understand that it is their job to maintain the plant not the taxpayers.

It is known as putting some profits back into the business .... a new concept to the new generation corp amercia leadership.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Cap and trade is no answer. It's really away to procrastinate and not address the problems.

Time to begin thinking phase out of Westar Coal . Perhaps Lawrence and Bowersock people could come together so WE Lawrence people could have the opportunity to purchase cleaner electricity.

Then perhaps Lawrence could tie into the wind power sources in western Kansas as well.

How about wind turbines and solar panels in our back yards?

OR Westar could use their mammoth profit system and go Geo Thermal.

Regulation needs to raise its' beautiful head. Actually I'm all for nationalized energy because once again executives whine and whine instead of responding to the needs of ratepayers which is cheaper and cleaner energy. After all OUR TAX DOLLARS are involved.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

"That's where a big chunk of Westar's (our) money is going. Let's filter the smokestack emissions through his house and make him earn some of that money he's getting. Any leftover soot can go through Brownback's house until he rescinds the wind turbine moratorium. "


BTW Thank you Mayor Bloomberg.

gccs14r 6 years, 11 months ago


You should put your standard bloviates on a server somewhere and then link to whichever ones you think are appropriate in a single post on a topic, rather than eat up column inches with your tiresome paste jobs. I'd rather skip just one post with a dozen links in it than have to scroll down past screen after screen of junk posts. If nothing else, you're contributing to global warming by making news organizations dedicate server space to host hundreds of identical copies of the same text. Linking to a single copy is more efficient.

SnakeFist 6 years, 11 months ago

Is Westar taking into account the fact that its delivery infrastructure is constantly falling apart, resulting in less electricity delivered and used? Given how often we're without electricity, usage and therefore production must be down several percent - surely that is helping to minimize their pollution output.

friendlyjhawk 6 years, 11 months ago

Have read all these comments with interest but don't understand all of them. What I do understand is that my electricity has been off more times this year then in the last 10 years since I started keeping track of how many times I was without service. So it sounds to me like the "poor us" syndrome is the poor defense they are using about not meeting new requirements. I am sure it will show up on my bill (right after an outage).

bendover61 6 years, 11 months ago

We don't need no stinkin air conditioning.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 11 months ago

Planet killing planet-killers with internal combustion lawnmowers are killing the planet. That's being wayyyyyy dumb and irresponsible !!!

leeroy_johnson 6 years, 11 months ago

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

notaubermime 6 years, 11 months ago

SOx and NOx are both respiratory system irritants and acid rain precursors. These are toxic gases and have have nothing to do with greenhouse gases.

tolawdjk 6 years, 11 months ago

Shhhhhhh. Please stop using logic, reasoning, and science on LJW.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 11 months ago

"The nation that controls magnetism controls the universe." Diet Smith

SDTPlant 6 years, 11 months ago

All this comes about at a time when the "ghost" electorate put into office someone who is interested in the bottom line, whether it's Westar, agribiz soaking/sucking up the contents of the slowly recharging Ogallala Aquifer, or anyone else with a take the money and run philosophy. Coincidence? Nope! Timed to coincide with a more favorable political climate? Yup!

Put one more tally in the "thank you" column for Mayor Bloomberg. Mine.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 11 months ago

Planet killing planet-killers with internal combustion lawnmowers are killing the planet. That's being wayyyyyy dumb and irresponsible !!! (yes, that is twice today that I've posted the same text on this award-winning website. Unlike some prolific posters, I do keep track)

verity 6 years, 11 months ago

The new rule was announced July 7 and compliance is expected by January 1. That just doesn't pass the smell test. Westar didn't know this was coming before July 7?

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