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Sunflower Coal Plant Permit

Wind turbines in a Kansas wheat field.

Kansas is already making important strides to develop clean energy like wind, with more than 2,600 megawatts of wind power currently online in the state.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Novak

Case Overview

A permit for the construction of a massive, coal-fired power plant in western Kansas was issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in 2010. This proposed plant will emit massive amounts of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, including mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. The plant will burn coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, and use water from the declining Ogallala Aquifer (also known as the High Plains Aquifer). Earthjustice contested the permit.

In a decision that will protect public health and ratepayers, the Kansas Supreme Court on October 4, 2013 invalidated the air pollution permit granted to Sunflower Electric Power Corp. by KDHE. The permit must be reconsidered by KDHE and all current air pollution regulations must be applied. With new standards in effect since the project was first proposed, the likelihood of the expansion plant legally meeting those standards or finding financial backing for unneeded coal-fired generation are dim.

Case ID



Case Updates

June 27, 2014 | Blog Post

Suit Filed to Stop Kansas Coal Plant

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has given Sunflower Electric the green light to build a massive, dirty coal fired power plant.

November 13, 2013 | In the News: NewsOK

New Coal Plant Permit Reversed by Kansas Court

The Kansas Supreme court reversed a state agency decision to issue a permit to the Sunflower Electric Power Corporation for the construction of a new coal-fired power plant in Southwest Kansas. The court ruled that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment failed to apply one-hour emission standards that were issued by the EPA before the permit was granted.

October 4, 2013 | Legal Document

Kansas Supreme Court Decision

Court Decision: Kansas Supreme Court Issues Unanimous Decision to Reject Air Permit Issued for Proposed Holcomb Coal Plant in Southwestern Kansas

July 22, 2013 | In the News: Lawrence Journal-World

House-approved farm bill provision promotes construction of controversial coal-burning Sunflower plant

The farm bill recently approved by the U.S. House of Representatives includes a provision that may allow Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to circumvent a federal court decision suspending their construction of a coal-burning electric power plant in southwest Kansas. A U.S. District Court judge had previously ordered the Rural Utilities Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to conduct an environmental review of the project before approving Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s proposal.