Kansas Coal Plant Reemerges Like B-Movie Zombie

Solar and wind options ignored

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Proponents of an 895-megawatt coal-fired power plant expansion project in Holcomb, Kansas have resubmitted an application for an air permit. The first application was rejected by the state environmental agency in 2007 due to concerns over air and global warming pollution. This was the first coal plant air permit rejected on those grounds in the United States.

With the new filing, Sunflower Electric Power Corporation will try again, with the backing of climate change denialists in the state legislature.

But the project still faces a number of obstacles.

Among them:

Sunflower still owes hundreds of millions of dollars to the U.S. taxpayer for its previous coal plant funded by the Rural Utilities Service. This debt led to a legal challenge by Earthjustice because the federal government cannot lawfully allow Sunflower to expand without examining its environmental impacts.

Sunflower has also not proven the need for this electricity in Kansas. Activists are concerned that the power would largely be exported to suburban development interests in Colorado. Kansas gets the pollution, Colorado gets the power.

Finally, Sunflower still has to obtain a new air permit from the state before it can start building, and the state agency is legally required to take and respond to comments from the public and the U.S. EPA on the harm the plant’s pollution will cause before making a final decision on the permit.

Our clients are near exasperation fighting this zombie polluter when clean energy options are so obvious. "Our state is perfectly positioned to develop its abundant clean energy resources that can help solve global warming and create thousands of new family-supporting jobs," said Stephanie Cole of Sierra Club, Kansas.

An Earthjustice staff member from 1999 until 2015, Brian used outreach and partnership skills to cover many issues, including advocacy campaign efforts to promote a healthy ocean.

Earthjustice’s Rocky Mountain office protects the region’s iconic public lands, wildlife species, and precious water resources; defends Tribes and disparately impacted communities fighting to live in a healthy environment; and works to accelerate the region’s transition to 100% clean energy.