Enviro groups again take Sunflower coal permit to court

The Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, on June 27 filed an appeal with the Kansas Appellate Court challenging the legality of a permit recently issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) for Sunflower Electric Cooperative to build its proposed Holcomb 2 coal unit.

The appeal details KDHE’s alleged failure to address deficiencies in the permit identified by the Kansas Supreme Court and argues that the permit still violates the Clean Air Act and Kansas law. Specifically, it said that KDHE did not comply with the court’s instructions by not including adequate limitations for hazardous air pollutants such as mercury and acid gases, NOx and SO2.

Earthjustice’s lead counsel on this case, Amanda Goodin, said: “KDHE continues to find loopholes that give this plant a blank check to pollute. The Kansas Supreme Court gave clear, legal instructions to ensure that this plant meets the most basic protections for clean air. KDHE ignored them.”

KDHE issued a final permit to Sunflower Electric in December 2010 for construction of an 895-MW coal-fired unit at the site of Sunflower’s existing coal-fired plant in Holcomb, Kan. The Sierra Club filed a petition the following month for review of the permit. The Kansas Supreme Court sided with the Sierra Club by ruling that the permit failed to comply with the Clean Air Act and Kansas law. The Court reversed KDHE’s decision to issue the permit and remanded it to the agency.

In January, KDHE initiated the process to reissue the permit with modifications that were supposed to address the deficiencies identified by the Kansas Supreme Court. On May 30, KDHE issued the revised permit to Sunflower.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.