Archive for Friday, August 31, 2012

Health concerns raised at hearing on proposed coal-burning power plant

August 31, 2012


— An official with the Colorado group that will receive most of the electricity from the proposed coal-burning power plant in southwest Kansas, said Friday that the project remains an "option."

The comment from Lee Boughey, a spokesman for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Co., was made after the Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments from attorneys over whether the state-issued construction permit for the 895-megawatt unit should be dissolved.

"This continues to be one of a number of long-term options to meet our members power needs," Boughey said, referring to the plant that is proposed to be built near Holcomb. Three-quarters of the plant's capacity would serve the power needs of customers in Colorado.

But environmentalists are challenging the permit.

Amanda Goodin, representing the Sierra Club, told the court that the permit failed to provide adequate protections against air pollution, specifically nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide. She said the plant's emissions would lead to "serious health consequences" for Kansans. She said the standard allowed under the permit for mercury was "100 percent weaker" than current rules from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Goodin urged the court to vacate the permit and order the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to re-start the permitting process.

Attorneys representing KDHE, Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and Tri-Star said the permit was proper and the project would meet all environmental standards. As projected, the plant would provide the peak energy needs for nearly a half million people.

Steve Fabert, an assistant attorney general representing KDHE, said the permit should have been approved in 2007, but then-KDHE Secretary Rod Bremby "invoked the specter of global warming problems" in rejecting a permit for two 700-megawatt coal-burning electric plants.

Bremby's decision caused political shockwaves throughout Kansas and the nation.

Bremby had cited the effects of the project’s carbon dioxide emissions on health and climate change.

The Legislature tried to override Bremby’s decision but each time was thwarted by vetoes by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

When Sebelius became secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, her successor Mark Parkinson almost immediately crafted a deal with Sunflower to bless the project.

In November 2010, Bremby was removed after refusing to resign as head of the KDHE to coordinate the cabinet transition from Parkinson’s administration to that of incoming Gov. Sam Brownback. Bremby said he was willing to help with the transition, but didn’t want to leave office to do so.

After Bremby’s departure, replacement John Mitchell approved a permit for a proposed 895-megawatt coal-burning power plant, just before new federal regulations on greenhouse gases went into effect.

Environmentalists have alleged there was improper political pressure put on regulators to approve the permit. But Fabert told the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday, "There is no merit to that issue."

The justices asked numerous questions during the nearly one-hour hearing and took the case under advisement. The court didn't indicate when it would issue a decision.

James Oliver, an attorney representing Tri-State, said the Sierra Club failed to show how the permit had caused any harm, since the plant hasn't been built yet. "A lot of this is total speculation," he said.

But Justice Lee Johnson asked, "Doesn't it seem counter-intuitive that you don't get your day in court until you can prove you can win in court?"

The project also has been in federal court where a judge has delayed it until an environmental impact statement is completed.


Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 8 months ago

Another reason we should have loser pay in Kansas.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 8 months ago

Huh? By your logic, we should all use opium, marijuana, absynthe and other "god given" substances. What about cyanide in your water? Mercury in your fish?

Conversely, why dig up all that carbon emitting fuel when we can use our God given sunlight and wind and build our technologies not to waste so much when we use it so we don't need so much in the first place?

Matt Bowers 5 years, 8 months ago

Thank God someone has a little sensibility. Not looking forward to the additional acid rain that it would bring to NC, we are already loosing parts of out national forests because of emissions from the Midwest. God has provided many resources, we don't need to use up the one that is the most harmful.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 8 months ago

Put this in Colorado where the benefits are going. Just another example of how Kansas is the butt of the nation.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 8 months ago

That's the point. Coloradans would stop the project cold. We are across the border, kind of like Mexican cheap labor where it doesn't quite matter as much what happens. All the immediately toxic stuff drifts to the east away from Colorado anyway.

riverdrifter 5 years, 8 months ago

Every single ag irrigator within 200 miles should be raising hell about this. I believe they are.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

These coal operators are really pedophiles because their attitude is "screw the babies."

paulveer 5 years, 8 months ago

I see more thumbs-up by his name than yours.

SnakeFist 5 years, 8 months ago

Isn't it strange how regressives are so worried about passing on a national debt to their children and grandchildren, but don't care about passing on clean air and water?

blindrabbit 5 years, 8 months ago

John Mitchell was bought off by the coal burners. I'd say move the plant to Colorado, where the "users" are, but Colorado realizes that they do not want the air emissions. If Colorado was "sharp" about this issue, they would build the plant 5 miles West of the Kansas line (in Colortado), get the economic benefits, and all the air emissions would end up in Kansas anyway because of the prevailing winds. Us Kansans ain't the sharpest bunch when it comes to "come-on cents".

1southernjayhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

And you wouldn't know John Mitchell if he smacked you in the face.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

I've met him a couple of times, and while he seemed like a nice man, he clearly followed orders from the top (who were following orders from Big Coal) in order to keep his job.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm always puzzled by people who enjoy paying more for energy by way of nuke and coal power both quite toxic sources as well.

Any true fiscal conservative would be screaming bring on the cleaner less expensive energy that pays back substantially quicker.

Not only that nuke and coal lobbyists have arranged for taxpayers/ratepayers to guarantee construction costs and be the insurance to cover the liability of any mishap. Nothing fiscal conservative about this arrangement. This is what is known as getting screwed.

It is also known as providing the CEO's and shareholders a guaranteed profit which again is also known as ratepayers getting screwed. This is also the largest number of shareholders we the the huge majority of ratepayers not receiving any type of dividend for our investment which is fiscal rape not fiscal accountability.

In essence tax dollars are funding the nuke and coal industry so why pay through the nose.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Coal is the dirtiest way to supply the nation with energy, and one of the lead contributors to climate change. Coal is a threat to the health of the planet and the communities in which it is mined and burned.

Coal-fired power plants release many dangerous pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, mercury and lead. Emissions from coal plants complicate diseases such as asthma, cardiac pulmonary disease and many other circulatory and respiratory conditions, and studies have shown a statistically significant link between mercury and increased autism rates.

Dr. James Hansen, the first scientist to warn the US Congress of the dangers of climate change and director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has said,

“It remains possible, and not entirely painful” to address global warming. “The most important step... would be to prohibit the construction of coal-fired power plants...” (Houston Chronicle, Oct 25, 2007).

Out of concern for human health, environmental quality, and the dangers of climate change, Public Citizen opposes the use of coal as an energy source.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Fact Sheet FS-163-97 October, 1997

Radioactive Elements in Coal and Fly Ash: Abundance, Forms, and Environmental Significance

The entire Fact Sheet FS-163-97 can be downloaded and viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not already have Acrobat Reader, you may download Adobe Acrobat Reader from this site.

Coal is largely composed of organic matter, but it is the inorganic matter in coal—minerals and trace elements— that have been cited as possible causes of health, environmental, and technological problems associated with the use of coal. Some trace elements in coal are naturally radioactive.

These radioactive elements include uranium (U), thorium (Th), and their numerous decay products, including radium (Ra) and radon (Rn).

Although these elements are less chemically toxic than other coal constituents such as arsenic, selenium, or mercury, questions have been raised concerning possible risk from radiation.

In order to accurately address these questions and to predict the mobility of radioactive elements during the coal fuel-cycle, it is important to determine the concentration, distribution, and form of radioactive elements in coal and fly ash.

Abundance of Radioactive Elements in Coal and Fly Ash Assessment of the radiation exposure from coal burning is critically dependent on the concentration of radioactive elements in coal and in the fly ash that remains after combustion.

blindrabbit 5 years, 8 months ago

1southernjayhawk; Wrongo, I've known John for 30 plus years, from shared KU times, to working with KDHE and Charles Jones, then John in the environmental field. John is a great guy, just a bad decision on his part, can't understand his position on this issue, what benefit to Kansas other than a few jobs. On the other hand, negatives: waste generation, depleted water resources (surface and ground water), air emissions SOX, NOX, particulates, mercury, bad technology (continued dependence of coal), transportation problems (coal trains), electric grid issues, Colorado and Oklahoma end users laughing at gullible Kansas for willing to accept negatives. Also, puts the Kansas City area at jeopardy for exceding air standards in summer months and thus triggering expensive corrections and impeding industrial growth possibilities. Think of air transport across Holcomb to NE Kansas!

1southernjayhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

Ok, blindrabbit, explain in detail how John Mitchell was bought off by the coal burners. No need for a complete inventory....just tell me about a couple of payment amounts, dates, by whom, just a few details.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

It's not hard to do-- approve the coal plant and keep your job, or don't approve it, and follow Bremby out the door.

blindrabbit 5 years, 8 months ago

1southernjayhawk: "bought off" does not necessarily imply money/favor exchanges; may have more to do with "Just's" comments about job retention.

Southern: Please explains to us posters you well thought rationale for building one of these dinosaurs in Kansas given all of the nagatives we have revealed. Patiently waiting.

blindrabbit 5 years, 8 months ago

Logical posters-----unlimited points, southern birds----zero

Centerville 5 years, 8 months ago

Ha.ha.ha! Keep pretending that a power plant will be more dangerous than Sebileus' rationing board. At least with a power plant there is almost endless legal strategy if you oppose it. Unlike the "health care review board" which allows no appeals. And before you go all hissy on me, look it up.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 8 months ago

Are you referring to this?

"Romney claimed the law “puts the federal government between you and your doctor.” The health care law does set new minimum benefits packages, but that’s more a matter of coming between patients and their insurance companies, rather than patients and their doctors. Under the law, medical services will not be government-run, nor does the law allow for rationing of care."

blindrabbit 5 years, 8 months ago

Centerville sounds like he/she is still infatuated with the idiot from Wasilla and her misunderstanding of facts. Oh well what would you expect from a Kansan who apparently knows little about the effects of burning coal (or chooses to ignore)l, but understands the BS coming out of the current GOP baggers. Centerville, please attempt to refute the negative facts about coal burners as posted by the informed bloggers in this story; 1southernjayhawk did not take the challenge and has faded into the woodwork.

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