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Where’s the Outrage Over Coal Boondogles?

While much has been made of the $535 million loan guarantee made to the failed Solyndra Corporation in 2009 to encourage alternative energy, you may have missed the court decision this week, halting expansion plans for a Kansas coal plant facing similar problems.

The ruling underscores how deadbeat coal plants can be even more costly for taxpayers.

Back in 1980, Sunflower Generation Corporation in Kansas received $543 million in federal loans and loan guarantees (taxpayer money). Like Solyndra, they were not able to pay that money back. So they arranged deals with the federal government to “restructure” the loans, multiple times. Sunflower was unable to repay taxpayers due to financial strain related to over-built Holcomb I, the existing coal plant Sunflower owns.

Sunflower now charges ahead with plans for an even bigger facility. The proposed multi-billion dollar, 895-megawatt coal-fired power plant expansion is designed to serve the western grid through a deal with Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Kansas gets the pollution, Colorado gets most of the power.

Fans of unEarthed may remember the outrageous backroom deals attempted by Kansas coal-boosters to get this project built.

This week, we received good news that the days of wasting taxpayer money on polluting, taxpayer-subsidized, coal plants may come to an end.

A decision by a federal district court in Washington, D.C. will require a thorough environmental examination to determine the public health impacts if the expansion plant is built, and whether alternatives for power generation might be available in one of the sunniest and windiest places in the continental USA.

For Americans who pay taxes (and breathe), this decision is a breath of fresh air.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.