New Kansas Gov. Reverses Decision, Approves Coal Plant

  • Published on May 19th, 2009

kansas coal

When President Obama tapped Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, groups fighting to maintain the precedent-setting decision to reject the permit for a new coal-fired power plant were rightly concerned the new governor would reverse the decision… and rightly so.

Just six days into his shortened term as governor of Kansas, Mark Parkinson ended a two-year stalemate between the State of Kansas and a group of power companies vying to expand a coal-fired power plant in southwestern Kansas. The case became the unlikely front in the legal/institutional battle over regulating carbon in the United States.

The Kansas compromise reached earlier this month allows Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build a single 895-megawatt coal-fired power plant near Holcomb, Kansas. The compromise was reached despite the fact that two 700-megawatt plants that were repeatedly blocked by Kathleen Sebelius when she was governor.

But Parkinson’s decision is getting some groups pretty fired up as the details of the compromise are hashed out. David Klepper writes at the Kansas City Star:

“The deal requires Sunflower to build two new transmission lines to help export Kansas wind energy westward. Sunflower, however, already had planned to build the transmission lines even without the compromise.

Also, Sunflower promised to use “supercritical” technology that burns coal more efficiently and with less pollution. Sunflower, however, already had planned to use state-of-the-art pollution controls in their original project proposal.

And the new plant will create fewer emissions — 6.67 million tons of carbon a year compared to 10.7 million tons — but turns out the difference is due to the size of the plant, not new technology.

What’s more, as part of the deal, Sunflower promised to decommission two oil-fired power plants in Garden City. Yet the outdated oil-burners haven’t been used in more than 20 years, according to Sunflower.”

The Parkinson deal also strips the state’s top regulator, Rod Bremby, of the discretion he used to reject the plants back in 2007. Some compromise

Image: Soupstance via flickr under a Creative Commons License

About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.


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  • Mark Parkinson must not be a politician becuase what he did IS in the best interest for his constituents. Great job, Mark! And thank you!

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