Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Kansas denies air quality permit for expansion of coal-fired power plant over climate change concerns
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has denied an air quality permit for the expansion of a coal-fired power plant because the expansion would cause a significant increase in carbon dioxide emissions. One commentator suggested that this may be the first instance where expansion of a power plant has been denied solely because of climate change concerns.
In a press release dated October 18, 2007, Secretary Roderick L. Bremby of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) announced his decision to deny Sunflower Electrical Cooperative's application for an air quality permit to expand operation of its Holcomb, Kansas coal-fired power generation facility. Bremby cited several state laws granting him authority to deny or modify an air quality permit to protect the health of persons or the environment. "I believe it would be irresponsible to ignore emerging information about the contribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to climate change and the potential harm to our environment and health if we do nothing,” said Bremby.
KDHE's website makes reference to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, the United States Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, and a policy statement issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as background information in support of the Secretary's decision. The website also contains a link to a letter jointly submitted by the Attorneys General of eight states, including California and New York, urging KDHE to deny the permit. The letter states that "[c]limate change is the single greatest environmental challenge facing the world today" and that "effective action is necessary at the national, regional and state level...to achieve the necessary reductions in CO2 emissions."