Archive for Thursday, November 3, 2011

Environmental Protection Agency says KDHE lied in coal argument

November 3, 2011


— An Environmental Protection Agency official has accused lawyers representing a Kansas agency of lying to the state Supreme Court about support for a permit that would allow a $2.8 billion coal-fired power plant to be built in southwest Kansas.

In a letter this week to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, EPA Region 7 administrator Karl Brooks took issue with KDHE claims in written arguments to the Supreme Court last month that the EPA didn’t have a problem with the permit for construction of the Sunflower plant near Holcomb.

“EPA has no substantial objection to the issuance of the construction permit,” attorneys for KDHE wrote.

Brooks’ letter said, “Kansas incorrectly informed the court” that EPA did not object.

The Sierra Club and Earthjustice have filed a lawsuit seeking to block construction of the power plant, which has been the subject of a six-year battle between supporters who say the plant is needed and environmentalists who believe the coal-fired plant will create harmful greenhouse gases.

Lawyers for the two groups argued in a filing with the court that the state permit issued by KDHE to Sunflower Electric Power Corp. did not comply with the Clean Air Act.

The brief claims the permit does not include enforceable limits on nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide pollution, failed to follow requirements to consider use of best available control technology and denied the public a fair opportunity to participate in the agency’s evaluation.

The state says the pollution levels it allowed in a permit for the plant are safe for humans, but the Sierra Club said in its lawsuit that those levels aren’t safe.

The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday that the EPA says it has voiced its opposition to the permit in letters and discussions over the past two years.

Brooks’ letter said KDHE failed to tell the Supreme Court that it had received three letters from the EPA saying the permit was not strict enough.

Both KDHE and Sunflower Electric declined to comment on the issue. The EPA said Brooks’ letter speaks for itself.

The Sierra Club said it plans to make a big deal out of the inaccurate Kansas statement when it files its own arguments with the court.

“EPA has consistently told the state that the permit needed more stringent limits on certain pollutants,” Stephanie Cole, spokeswoman for the Sierra Club, told The Star in an interview. “KDHE not only ignored EPA’s request to amend the permit to include the more stringent limits, but now KDHE is actually attempting to mischaracterize EPA’s position to the court.”

The project has been the center of political and legal disputes since 2006. Supporters of the project say the plant will bring crucial jobs and economic development to western Kansas. Opponents contend the plant will pollute, draw down water reserves and provide electricity that isn’t needed in Kansas. Colorado residents will receive much of the electricity.


Kookamooka 6 years, 6 months ago

The State is "off the chain!" They don't care about the citizenry, just the businesses and their bottom line. I presume all of the artists they are bankrupting will take jobs at a coal power plant?

Don Whiteley 6 years, 6 months ago

The members of the Sierra Club and Earthjustice, like the rest of us, aren't quite ready to give up their use of electricity. Now in violent oppostion to the generation of electricity through either coal or nuclear production, the only alternative these groups have laid on the table is covering every field and hill in Kansas with wind turbines. I don't like coal fired plants more than anyone else, but no one has put any viable alternatives on the table. Unless we all volunteer to give up our TVs and go back to oil and kerosene lamps, we have to do someting.

grimpeur 6 years, 6 months ago

Which part of Colorado do you live in again, such that your TV will be powered by this plant? And since rural populations, especially in Kansas, are decreasing, where is this excess demand coming from?

No, I don't expect you to answer correctly.

average 6 years, 6 months ago

And even if Western Kansas consumers end up needing more megawatts in the future, they won't be able to get it from this plant. The energy is committed, contractually-locked, to go out of state. If Dodge or Garden actually need more power in ten years, they'd be told to go pound sand or build yet another plant, since this one is all Colorado's.

Horrible deal for Kansas. If anything, western Kansas utility customers should get discount rates from Sunflower, paid by surcharges for exporting power to states that are to prissy to build their own.

Would it make much difference overall if it was five miles west of the Colorado line? No, not really. But, the fact that they don't want it (but want the power) should speak volumes.

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 6 months ago

Western KS will receive an equivalent to "surcharges" with the money that comes into their local economy from new job wages paid by colorado residents.

Maddy Griffin 6 years, 6 months ago

What planet are you from? We've known from the beginning that none of the energy generated by this new plant would benefit Kansas. Colorado gets the energy, we get the pollution. Let them build it in Colorado.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 6 months ago

Wow. There was a time in this country when nearly every farm that existed had a windmill in a corner of the barn lot pumping water. What's the difference?

woodscolt 6 years, 6 months ago

The ACLU should just put a large billboard on every road: "Kill More Babies - ....................". recently posted by distant.

One out of every six pregnant women has such dangerous levels of mercury in their wombs that their babies are at high risk of a litany of diseases ie, autism, liver disease, mental deficiencies , blindness, heart disease, kidney disease, and even being still born. All fair game to distant.

There should be a billboard put up on every highway that says "Kill More Babies" or at least cause more babies to be born with serious health problems caused by mercury poisoning.

How has the coal industry been for west virginia? West Virginia is the 49th poorest state in the Union. Thats what coal has done for West Virginia.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

That's probably because Carol Browner has absolutely nothing to do with this situation.

Changing the subject continues to be one of your favorite (albeit ineffective) methods of argumentation.

rtwngr 6 years, 6 months ago

There is no such thing as man made global warming.

WilburM 6 years, 6 months ago

Wow! It's Mr. Science. Glad you've settled that, once and for all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

Did you remember to click your heels three times while typing that?

tolawdjk 6 years, 6 months ago

What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

KDHE said EPA never voiced an opinion.

EPA wrote several letters stating that the NOx and SO2 limits were too lax.

NOx and SO2 are not global warming pollutants. KDHE could have addressed EPA's concerns, even half assedly, and we would not now be reading where KDHE lied to the Supreme Court.

Getaroom 6 years, 6 months ago

it"s_just_math: A lie is lie mathie and as bozo says there was no Carol Browner in this formula. Better get back to your studies. I bet you can buy one of those new DVR's being produced sold by the GOP that filters out "liberals" and "far lefties".

And this from the one note guy who figures Cain is an alright guy and likes him? But that's the way it goes I suppose. ...._math never truly mounts an argument, but rather drones on about "the far left" and "liberals". But that's they way it goes I suppose. He seems to also believe it was OK for the greedy Wall Street "free Marketeers"(i.e. criminals) to steal money from all of us and get of scott free. Loves his coal too, but maybe he has an alternative fuel up his sleevies - lots of money to burn! He doesn't like all that public "occupy.." display of collective frustration either - makes him uncomfortable and his remote can't shut all those dead beat "liberals" up. In the world of "it's_just_math" there is one way to think and it's a perfect world of Black and White thought. Well, maybe that is inaccurate, more like, an all White world. One devoid of differences.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 6 months ago

I suppose it is better to build a coal fired plant in the middle of nowhere than it is to build it near a city or a lake.

Are we surprised that the KDHE lied? The don't have facts and science on their side, so they must lie to ensure that the economic interests of their patrons are upheld.

kernal 6 years, 6 months ago

There's a rat scurrying around this project and it needs to be ferreted out.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 6 months ago

The environmental terrorists are well at work with their devious chicanery again and when the lights go out, no matter where, there will be retribution. These wacko extremists are out to have their goofy notions verified and are not the least bit concerned about the havoc that their stupid notions and invalid conclusions will have on the society.. But no matter, by then, the Red Chinese will have bought every politician in Washington and it will little matter. I heard on the radio this morning that the Chinese are "awash in cash" and have plenty of reserves to purchase themselves most of the country. Have you bought your Mandirin Chinese Language Course yet? Better hurry, there will be a mob rush when the awful truth is finally recognized by our decaying and dying society.

tolawdjk 6 years, 6 months ago

Tinfoil is on aisle 17 next to the paper plates and trashbags.

tolawdjk 6 years, 6 months ago

Tinfoil is on aisle 17 next to the paper plates and trashbags.

Getaroom 6 years, 6 months ago

Pure baloney served here! You and it's_just_math should get a place together and cover your entire house with tin foil. Send money to Wall Street too, they are in desperate need as you know. Decaying and dying society? hmmmm? Maybe, but it isn't for the reasons Faux talk radio told you. Better do whatever The Rev Governor Brownbackward tells you do do Yeoman2, Jesus is coming(again) - look busy. A round of tin foil for all of the sheeples please! Glenn and Rush love you and that is all that matters.

woodscolt 6 years, 6 months ago

Geothermal energy is much cheaper than coal or any of the other fossil fuels, for that matter. You would rather keep your blinders on and believe the BS about coal. You look pretty silly with this rant of yours.

Jimo 6 years, 6 months ago

It is but a. there are few places where the resource can be used economically, b. those places aren't where most people live (no offense (intended, Boise!), c. we refuse to invest in the transmission systems (stimulus!) that would be necessary to move the energy from A to B, and d. private investors refuse to put money into a technology little understood.

That said, if coal and other fossil fuels had to pay for their externalities (pollution, deaths, environmental destruction, etc.) then yes geothermal would be cheaper, by quite a bit. Something like 3.6 cents / kilowatt hour versus at least 5 cents for coal.

But its not a panacea. Existing geothermal plants generate electricity only about 60% of the time. There is significant downtime for maintenance. And geothermal does in fact produce pollution of its own in the form of water with high concentrations of minerals that are brought from the safety of the earth to the surface where they don't belong. Locating sites is expensive. And there are well-founded concerns about subsidence of the earth and earthquakes.

If you want to generate electricity somewhere in western Kansas, your choices are coal, natural gas, or wind. Coal is the cheapest and the dirtiest. Gas is probably the most practical trade-off between efficiency and the environment. Wind is the greenest but least efficient.

Of course, energy efficiency costs 0 cents per kilowatt hour.

woodscolt 6 years, 6 months ago

Coal is the cheapest and the dirtiest.

The only reason coal is the cheapest is because the full and real cost of it is never represented in the deflated and false claims of its costs. But, yes it is the dirtiest.

woodscolt 6 years, 6 months ago

You would rather have the coal industry be in charge of your health care.

woodscolt 6 years, 6 months ago

Let me make this a little simpler . Your post promotes the coal industry,right? The coal industry causes multiple illness with its processes. You favor the coal industry therefore you favor imposing these multiple illnesses on the people which presumably would include you. Therefore, you accept the coal industry being in charge if your health care by imposing these illnesses upon you.

woodscolt 6 years, 6 months ago

Check this crap out. US panders to Saudis for oil. This double standard causes infinite rifts with other arab countries. Million dead, trillion dollars spent plus spent on war in Iraq for oil. Nine years and counting.

gccs14r 6 years, 6 months ago

A little conservation would go a long way. People waste a tremendous amount of power in this country and don't even realize they're doing it.

blindrabbit 6 years, 6 months ago

Obviously all this lying occurred after Demby left KDHE. This position was no-doubt supported by Smilin Sam, the Chamber of Commerce, Utility Industry and the Koch-a Kolas.

Stuart Sweeney 6 years, 6 months ago

I find it interesting we fought a water battle for years with Colorado. It was determined they were taking to much water from the Arkansas River. We finally get the water we need--what do we do? Use it to generate steam to make electricity and sell it to Colorado. I guess we did not need the water for our uses???

diddleband 6 years, 6 months ago

Many have been pushing to build this possibly crucial power plant for 6 years. It will be built in Southwest Kansas and will bring more power to Colorado. The problem is when KDHE lied to the EPA and now the EPA is taking KDHE to court. The contract isn’t refined enough from an environmental health point and lying about pollutants doesn’t help. I think that this Coal plant needs to be built, but the permit needs to be redone so it is environmentally correct. This will help bring more power to Colorado and more jobs to Southwest Kansas, so in the long run the pluses outweigh the minuses. Hopefully the plant will be built in the next few years.

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