Archive for Thursday, January 16, 2014

Public comment period opens on proposed changes to permit for coal-fired plant

January 16, 2014


— State environmental officials are seeking public comment on a proposed change in the permit given to Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build an 895-megawatt coal-burning electric generating plant in southwest Kansas.

Further work on the permit was required because of a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in October.

The court overturned the permit and sent it back to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, telling the agency that the permit must comply with Environmental Protection Agency regulations on one-hour emission limits for nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

Public comment on the addition to the permit will continue through Feb. 19.

The proposed project has been the topic of disputes for more than six years.

Under the proposal, Sunflower Electric would manage the facility while most of the electricity produced would go to customers of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association in Colorado.

Proponents of the plant say it will bring crucial jobs and economic development to western Kansas. Opponents say the plant will pollute, draw down water reserves and provide electricity that won’t benefit Kansas.

KDHE said public comments can be:

— Mailed to Christy Thurman, KDHE Bureau of Air, 1000 SW Jackson, Suite 310, Topeka, KS 66612-1366;

— Submitted by email to; or

— Presented orally or in writing during a public hearing at 5 p.m. Feb. 19 in the Garden City High School Auditorium, 2720 Buffalo Way Blvd.


Larry Sturm 4 years, 3 months ago

We don't need a dirty coal fired plant in Kansas. And as for jobs their will be a lot of them during construction and then a skeleton crew to run it. Wind power or nuclear power will be a lot cleaner All large Navy ships run on nuclear power with no problems. .

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

"Proponents of the plant say it will bring crucial jobs and economic development to western Kansas. Opponents say the plant will pollute, draw down water reserves and provide electricity that won’t benefit Kansas." Hmmmmmmmmmmm

Why can't jobs be the center of conversation surrounding cleaner more efficient energy? The technology is available as we speak. Cleaner energy sources do provide jobs.

Proponents of cleaner more efficient energy sources say this plan will bring crucial jobs and economic growth throughout the entire state of Kansas. The entire state of Kansas needs jobs and economic growth.

Some examples.

The Plan:



Bio Mass

Geo Thermal

Hydro Power

Carolyn Simpson 4 years, 3 months ago

I just moved from Lawrence to Scott City, Kansas, not far from the proposed power plant. What is not reported well in eastern Kansas is that a big reason for the "coal fired plant" is to provide a power plant to receive the power generated by wind farms. Currently are few places to sell the wind generated power. I know of two wind farms that are on hold because they do not have a place to sell the power. The coal in the new power plant will be used as a supplement to provide constant power because wind does not blow all of the time even in western Kansas. The power plant will be a boon for wind farms. The new power plant will create less than half the pollution of the power plant in Lawrence. Those concerned about pollution should work to shut down the old power plants like Lawrence and replace them with new power plants like the one proposed in Southwest Kansas which will help Kansas fulfill its potential to be "the Saudi Arabia" of wind power for the state and nation.

Cille King 4 years, 3 months ago

Wind projects are on hold because they lack transmission lines, not because they lack places to use the energy. If another coal fired plant is built, the coal will supply the energy and the wind energy won't be needed.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 3 months ago

That doesn't make sense because it's the inadequate network of transmission lines that creates the bottleneck for getting the wind generated electricity around and out to customers, not the presence of a power plant. Many of those wind farms on hold would be selling electricity to utilities outside the state in order to meet renewable energy portfolio goals of those utilities, and without adequate transmission lines, there is no way for those utilities to buy Kansas wind generated electricity. Instead of exporting renewable electricity generated by Kansas wind, the Holcomb expansion just imports more Wyoming coal to burn and sell the electricity to front range developments in Colorado, letting the mercury and other pollutants drift across Kansas. The financial history of Sunflower Power is well documented: they couldn't pay back loans from the feds used to construct the initial Holcomb plant, and millions of federal dollars had to be written off to make the expansion project look feasible. So you need to explain how energy exported to Colorado is going to help wind turbine farms in Kansas--it just doesn't add up the way you are presenting it.

Mike Ford 4 years, 3 months ago

please slurry that coal with the 15 inches or less of rain that area gets as the Oglallah aquifer becomes more and more depleted. head in the sand denial anyone?

Brock Masters 4 years, 3 months ago

The coal plant will not increase water use. The same amount of water will be used.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Where will that water come from? Will the water source be contaminated by the waste created which also floats through the air?

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

Who told you that?

Yes, most of the water can be recycled, but nearly 700 gallons per megawatt hour is consumed.

This is a nearly 900 megawatt plant. Multiyly it out and that is a significant amount of water demand to add against an already-short supply.

Brock Masters 4 years, 3 months ago

The area is closed to new water use so the coal company must purchase existing water rights from irrigators. The wate permit use must be changed and reduced because it is no longer being used for irrigation. The amount of water appropriated for use in that area will not change.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

So, you are saying that farmers will be put in competition with the utility for the water that is available. I wonder who has more money and lawyers.

Brock Masters 4 years, 3 months ago

Chris there is no water available. There is no competition for it.

The farmers and others own it and the coal company can't take it from them. The farmer can choose to sell it if they want.

Please research KS water law for a better understanding of the issue. It is okay to oppose the coal plant but it isn't, as Ford did, to make up reasons to oppose it.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

Maybe, but rights to resource ownership sometimes change when power and money is at stake. If our own city government can invoke imminent domain to remove an eyesore, what would stop the state from justifying the re-allocation of water rights based on the need to supply energy to the general population?

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

There is water available; how would you own something that does not exist? As long as a resource exists, there will be competition on who gets to use it.

Brock Masters 4 years, 3 months ago

No Chris. Educate yourself. There is no new water available. The existing water is already allocated so there is no competition for it. Water right holder A is allocated a set amount and water right holder B is allocated a set amount. If either exceed their allocation they violate the law.

As for your hypothetical we can play hypothetical on any issue but it is pointless.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

Who said anything about new water?
The coal plant will require water, and it does not matter whether they compete with money or lawyers, they will get it, and the farmers will have to make do with less, unless you are going back to your original claim that the plant will not require water.

Brock Masters 4 years, 3 months ago

Wow Chris you are desperate now aren't you. Trying to twist what I said to prove your point. I did not say the plant would not need water. I said it would not result in more water being used. I stand by that statement.

Back your statement that they will take the water from the farmers with facts. Not some hypothetical use of eminent domain. Tell me legally how they can take one drop of water from a farmer.

The coal plant can only get water if someone sells an existing water right to them. I'd be surprised if they haven't already bought enough rights to supply the water they need. No more water will be available for use by them than before they bought the rights.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

Well, judging by the indentation, you replied to a comment saying that water for the plant would become a problem as the Ogalla is depleted. You said no more water would be used. If you mean that the rate of depletion of the Ogalla will be the same whether we use it to grow food or use it sell electricity to Colorado, OK, but I took it to mean that you thought the plant would not use water. I thought that because otherwise your response was nonsensical in that it did not address the concern of the comment it appeared you were responding to. A depleted Ogallala would still leave the plant inoperational, regardless of what the water was used for up until that point.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

Let's look at what you just said.

"Back your statement that they will take the water from the farmers with facts." "I'd be surprised if they haven't already bought enough rights to supply the water they need."

What you are saying is that you would be surprised if they had not already out-competed a bunch of farmers for water rights.

On eminent domain, we have seen recently this being used by other energy related companies. What makes you think it would not be done again?

Brock Masters 4 years, 3 months ago

Again Chris you try to twist my words. I didn't say they out competed farmers. There is no competition. The farmers and other water right owners can choose to sell their water rights. Water rights are property and can be sold.

There is no need for eminent domain because the plant has the water they need already.

There will no more water used because it is limited by law to what the current water rights are allocated.

But hey Chris, nice try.

Done with you as I your ignorance on Ka water law hinders our discussion.

Go ahead, get the last word in.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

Kansas water law has nothing to do with the reality that there is a finite amount of water available, and some of it can be used in the coal plant or to grow food, but not both. When it is gone, it's gone. And, when the water runs out, the coal plant is in trouble. That was the point you originally objected to, and I do not see that you actually addressed it.

You do understand that the Ogallala is being replenished at a rate so low that it is effectively not being replenished, correct?

If the utility spent money to gain access to the water, and now they have have it and the farmers do not, they out competed the farmers. That is just the reality of the situation.

Read my comments again, I never said they would resort to eminent domain, I only said it was a possibilty, one of many things they might do to get the water the plant needs.

I guess I could say that your lack of understanding of the law of conservation of matter is hindering the discussion.

Mike Ford 4 years, 3 months ago

I listened to a speaker on KCUR FM about Oglallah water use and the Coal plant. This plant had to purchase 30,000 acres of water rights for plant use. I guess going down to the aquifer under the 30,000 acres doesn't mean the aquifer will be depleted any less? no sarcasm needed.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

The Lawrence coal fired plant is among a national list of plants that should be shut down.

"The new power plant will create less than half the pollution of the power plant in Lawrence. Those concerned about pollution should work to shut down the old power plants like Lawrence and replace them with new power plants" such as :


Bio Mass


Geo Thermal

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

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.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Koch Outspends Exxon-Mobil on Climate Denial

The Wonk Room has long detailed the role of the billionaire brothers of Koch Industries, Charles and David Koch, in destroying American prosperity.

Their pollution-based fortunes have fueled a network of right-wing ideologues, from McCain mouthpiece Nancy Pfotenhauer to loony conspiracy theorist Christopher Monckton.

In public, the Kochs like to burnish their reputations by buying museum and opera halls. In private, however, they’ve outspent Exxon Mobil to fund organizations of the climate denial machine, as Greenpeace details in a new report:

Although Koch intentionally stays out of the public eye, it is now playing a quiet but dominant role in a high-profile national policy debate on global warming.

Koch Industries has become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition.

This private, out-of-sight corporation is now a partner to Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute and other donors that support organizations and front-groups opposing progressive clean energy and climate policy. In fact, Koch has out-spent Exxon Mobil in funding these groups in recent years.

From 2005 to 2008, Exxon Mobil spent $8.9 million while the Koch Industries-controlled foundations contributed $24.9 million in funding to organizations of the climate denial machine.

This report, “Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” documents roughly 40 climate denial and opposition organizations receiving Koch foundation grants in recent years, including:

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

That area has some of the best wind potential that exists.

Wind in those kind of high-yield areas is already cheaper than coal.

A coal plant would place additional demands on water that is already in short supply, and our governer has stated we should find ways of conserving it for farm use.

It smells like the utility is asking the government to support its grab at market share before the competition can establish a foothold.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

Just looking at the area in which Brownback has declared off limits for further wind development,

And looking at where the best wind in Kansas is

And it strikes me that if someone wanted to undermine our ability to produce wind energy near where most of the population is, they could have done a worse job.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 3 months ago

So, looking more at the Tallgrass Heartland, what else does that act do? Would it prevent the development of a coal plant in that area? What about an aerospace production facility? A chemical fertilizer plant? New cattle feed lots? What exactly does the Tallgrass Heartland do other than exclude the development of wind energy near our population centers?

I think the answer is it only restricts wind development. Does it seem a little odd that someone who claims to want less regulation of industry by government should declare an exclusion zone for one competitive industry in particular?

Clark Coan 4 years, 3 months ago

Due to new EPA regulations, it will be too expensive to build now. BTW, Mid-Atlantic Hydro filed a preliminary FERC license permit in Sept. to build a conventional hydro plant at Tuttle Creek Lake. It would produce 79 MW of power.

Reportedly, Bowersock will look into doing hydro at Clinton Lake next year.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Right wing party members are likely the most reckless spenders of OUR tax dollars perhaps in history.

Put the cost on the backs of the middle class taxpayers which is how it is done. Taxpayers are now responsible for the financing and the insurance. The white collar energy crooks walk away with the profits.

More Nuke plants were cancelled because they were a poor investment with too much risk. So these also are now on the backs of the taxpayers.

Bob Gent 4 years, 3 months ago

If sunflower wants water for the electricity they're selling to Colorado, how about them building the plant on the Arkansas and have Colorado release the needed water into the river for the plant? Otherwise, it looks suspiciously like Colorado wants the plant sited here so we suffer the costs of their consumption

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising, according to a draft United Nations report. Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies, experts found.

A delay would most likely force future generations to develop the ability to suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and store them underground to preserve the livability of the planet, the report found. But it is not clear whether such technologies will ever exist at the necessary scale, and even if they do, the approach would probably be wildly expensive compared with taking steps now to slow emissions.

The report said that governments of the world were still spending far more money to subsidize fossil fuels than to accelerate the shift to cleaner energy, thus encouraging continued investment in projects like coal-burning power plants that pose a long-term climate risk.


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