Kansas State Government In Bed With Dirty Power Companies

A local news outlet recently discovered that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) got a little too friendly with a power company that applied to build an 895 MW coal-fired power plant in the state.

Internal emails uncovered by the Kansas City Star demonstrate that the KDHE consulted with Sunflower Electric Power Corp. officials to determine how they should respond to over 6,000 public comments opposing construction of the plant.

“Some of the responses KDHE produced as their own work were nearly verbatim copies of the responses suggested by Sunflower. KDHE even helped Sunflower set up a computer program to process the questions,” reports Earthjustice.

And that wasn’t the only time the state agency, which is charged with protecting the health of all Kansans and upholding the Clean Air Act, depended on the power company to tell it what to do.

The Kansas City Star found that “during the months the department was writing the 275-page permit — which will determine emissions releases for years to come — staffers were in almost daily contact with Sunflower Electric Power Corp. officials.

Tell the state of Kansas that people are more important than coal profits!

An editorial in The KC Star lays the blame for this scandal squarely at the feet of former governor Mark Parkinson, and his fellow coal advocates.

“The permit process is a shameful legacy of former Kansas governor Mark Parkinson. The Democrat reversed the refusal of his Democratic predecessor, Kathleen Sebelius, to grant a permit for a coal-burning plant in western Kansas. Sebelius and her secretary of health and environment, Roderick Bremby, said the plant would pollute Kansas air while generating most of its power for Colorado. Parkinson fired Bremby in early November after Sunflower officials said they thought he was slowing down the permit process. With Bremby gone, regulators worked nights and weekends to process Sunflower’s permit.”

Proponents of the proposed plant near Holcomb in western Kansas say it will bring crucial new jobs to a depressed area, but studies have shown that the coal industry only delivers a fraction of the jobs promised when seeking approval for new power plants.

While many Kansans are outraged at this blatant violation of the public trust, Republicans in the state seem unable to see anything wrong with the KDHE’s actions:

“Being cozy with business is not necessarily bad,” said Rep. Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican. “Kansas needs to be open for business. We don’t have mountains. We don’t have oceans. If we don’t allow for people to make it easy to make a profit in Kansas, there really is no reason to come here.”

Well, Rep. Schwab, filthy air and polluted waterways make it difficult for people to live there. So which is more important, profit or people? It’s time to do your job and take a stand for the health and happiness of the Kansans that you were elected to serve.

Take Action! Tell Rep. Scott Schwab People Are More Important Than Coal Profits

Related Reading:

New Coal Plants Fail To Provide Promised Jobs

Another Republican Attempt To Gut The Clean Water Act

Coal Industry Creates Third-World Conditions In United States Today

Image Credit: Flickr - Eli Beck

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Julie W.
Jules W.3 years ago

Thanks, signed.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle4 years ago

Am I surprised? No. And that's sad. These revelations don't even surprise me anymore.

Janine H.
Janine H.4 years ago

This is a very sad story. Other animals has to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day). "We" destroy averything around us and "we" forget, that everything is important to survive, too.

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Arielle Black-Foley


Ameer T.
Ameer T.4 years ago

So whats new?

rene davis
rene davis4 years ago


Alicia N.
Alicia N.4 years ago

signed # 143

Grace Adams
Grace Adams4 years ago

I know we need electricity. But wind is now cost-competitive with coal. Why couldn't the Kansas regulatory agency make a counter offer, urging the electric company to settle for wind turbines and accessories instead of a new coal-fired plant.?

Grace Adams
Grace Adams4 years ago

I know we need electricity. However, wind is now cost-competitive with coal. You need some accessories, like batteries and smart grid to go with the wind turbines. But still, why couldn't the Kansas state regulatory office have made a counter offer encouraging the electric company to settle for wind instead of coal?

Beth Davis
Beth D.4 years ago

It's about to happen in wisconsin if Walker gets his way. He wants to "privatize" the power and water companies there. Then big oil can come in and charge you whatever...Let's face it, we are not going to do well without power or water. So forced to pay...that's the game they play.