Sierra Club criticizes Kansas lawsuit against EPA on power plant emissions

? Environmentalists on Tuesday criticized the state for filing a lawsuit against a federal air pollution rule that requires utilities to clean up power plant emissions.

“The state should not be wasting time and resources to defend poor management practices of Kansas utilities,” said Stephanie Cole, a spokeswoman for the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club.

On Monday, Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a federal lawsuit to block the Cross-State Air Pollution rule, saying it would require Kansas utilities to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new emission control equipment by Jan. 1. Schmidt said there was no way utilities could comply with the deadline, and that would mean Kansans would pay more for out-of-state electricity.

Health officials have said the rule is needed to cut down on health problems caused by air pollution drifting across state lines. The rule targets nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.

Westar Energy, the state’s largest utility, the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, and the unified government of Wyandotte County also have challenged the air pollution rule.

Cole said many utilities across the country have prepared for the new rule by installing pollution controls and using cleaner energy technologies.