Sunflower coal plant gets state approval

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2007 file photo, Sunflower Electric Cooperative's coal-fired power plant churns out electricity in Holcomb, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, file)

HOLCOMB, Kansas – It’s a legal battle over an air quality permit that’s been brewing for years, but on Friday KDHE gave Sunflower Electric the go ahead to start construction on an 895 megawatt coal-fired plant.

“The permit is in compliance with all state and federal laws and addresses all issues brought forth by the Kansas Supreme Court,” said KDHE’s Secretary Robert Moser in an official statement.

Sunflower Electric released a statement saying, “.. We appreciate the work done by KDHE to have an open and transparent public comment process and ensure the air permit meets strict state and federal requirements…”

The Sierra Club continues to oppose the project, saying Kansas should utilize its wind and solar energy sources, and they said the plant would pollute Kansas while sending the power to Colorado.

“I think KDHE has an obligation to not approve it,” said Kansas Sierra Club Chair Yvonne Cather.  “What we need to do is transition this state into renewable energy so everyone can be healthy and energy independent.”

While the potential environmental impacts continue to be debated, Garden City and Holcomb can’t ignore the economic advantages that an expansion would bring to the area.

“We are very supportive of the expansion,” said the area Chamber of Commerce President Steve Dyer.  “They’re a strong company and there is no doubt in our minds that they should be in Finney County.”

While the deal will bring jobs, the Sierra Club says it’s not the right kind of expansion for Kansas and may consider another lawsuit.

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