Backers of a proposed new dirty coal power plant filed a federal lawsuit today in an effort to circumvent coming national carbon dioxide regulations. The coal industry suit names Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and others in her administration. It came on the same day that Sebelius was singled out by President-elect Barack Obama for recognition of her work to move Kansas towards a cleaner energy future.
The coal lawsuit, if successful, could unleash 11 million tons each year of carbon dioxide, the single-biggest cause of global warming.
The suit, filed this week in federal court by Sunflower Electric, claims that Sunflower’s civil rights were violated in Kansas last year when state officials refused to permit its existing coal-fired power plant to expand.
But Sunflower is deliberately ignoring health impacts of the new coal plant on Kansas citizens who live nearby and its potentially massive contribution to global warming.
Nick Persampieri, the Earthjustice attorney who successfully challenged the plant’s air permit said, “The harm to people who would suffer from this plant expansion is much more important than Sunflower’s alleged right to expand its use of outdated, polluting coal technology regardless of the cost.
“The public officials and people of Kansas rejected Sunflower’s original plan to put a polluting power plant in their backyard that would pump most of the electricity and profits out of state. This lawsuit is a slap in the face of Kansas and an obvious act of desperation by Sunflower.”
The lawsuit names Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Kansas Department of Health and Environment Director Rod Bremby for their roles in refusing to grant the plant expansion last year. Sebelius, with assistance from Earthjustice and other organizations, withstood three attempts in the state Legislature to overturn the denial.
Sunflower’s request that KDHE reverse course and issue a permit is currently being considered by the Kansas Office of Administrative Hearings after the state Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal until the administrative proceeding is complete.