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Published on February 2nd, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer

EPA Win: Kansas Coal Power Plant Must Install $500 Million Pollution Scrubber

In a case begun immediately after the Obama administration took office – under New Source Review rules that have not been enforced for over a decade, a Kansas coal power company has just settled with the newly activist EPA led by Lisa Jackson.

Under the settlement, Westar Energy has agreed to pay a $3 million fine and must now spend $500 million to correct its longstanding violations of the Clean Air Act.

Image: Whitehouse.govActivist_EPA

EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson

Like all plants that came into operation after 1977: Westar Energy’s Jeffrey Energy Center, built in 1978, was subject to stricter SOx and NOx requirements than older plants, under New Source Review. However, with lax enforcement, the company was able to skirt the law with impunity, and continue to pollute.

“Today’s settlement sets the most stringent limit for sulfur dioxide emissions ever imposed on a coal-fired power plant in a federal settlement,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.  “EPA is committed to protecting clean air for communities by making sure coal-fired power plants comply with the law.

In addition, under the EPA-administered cap and trade program that has been in place to reduce SOx and NOx emissions from pollution sources, Westar will surrender the surplus SOx allowances for the 78,600 tons of health-endangering pollution removed with the scrubbers.

These SOx allowances cannot be used again, which means that the harmful emissions are permanently removed from the environment.

The plant also produces over 16 million tons of CO2 annually. Current EPA-administered cap and trade covers only SOx and NOx emissions, but that will likely change, if congress fails to pass its own cap and trade bill (that has only passed the Democratic-majority House; as Waxman-Markey ACES).

In addition, Westar must spend $6 million on clean energy projects. Perhaps to kindle its interest in clean power: it must install small wind turbines at a local school. After all, $500 million could build a new 250 megawatt wind farm. It must also retrofit diesel engines with emission controls, install charging infrastructure, purchase plug in hybrid vehicles and install charging at truck stops to prevent engine idling.

The ruling covers three power plants producing a combined 2,160 megawatts, which comprises 73 percent of the company’s coal-powered electricity. With the $500 million pollution scrubbers, the total combined sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions will be reduced more than 78,600 tons a year or more than 85%.

The new administration crackdown was no surprise. Westar had reassured worried shareholders in December of 2008 that “We believe that costs related to updating or installing emissions controls would qualify for recovery in the prices we are allowed to charge our customers.” Currently residential customers in Kansas pay an average $77 a month for electricity, and a $1 rate increase was just approved by the Kansas utility regulators to pay for building new wind farms.

Westar shares closed down 12 cents on news of the settlement.

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6 Responses to EPA Win: Kansas Coal Power Plant Must Install $500 Million Pollution Scrubber

  1. Alicia says:

    Its good that government agencies are cracking down on corporations that are hurting the environment. Hopefully the money is used to create clean energy and more green jobs.

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  6. Rider I says:

    I guess the question I have is. If there is 76,000 tons of a carbon material and another 16 million tons of CO2 don’t we make money of those things? That needs to be removed from the air and it is going to cost around 500 million to do it. That means to break even we need to capture and sell each ton of carbom production at about $20 a ton or so. Ok so what can we do with CO2, we can create compressed gas, I believe for cans and other things using CO2 compression. If we do not want it to be placed in the area at all. We could sell it to a plant that turns gas CO2 into liquid then into solid for fertilizer for the plants I believe. Does not plants live on CO2 and need it for foord. Could we not bag it up and sell it. I mean I am working on a complete sustainable manufacturing plant or even energy plant that is able to capture all emissions and turn a profit on the abated carbon products. What is wrong with you people are you bad capatalist or what?
    The theory is called the Perfect Environmental Production, it explains how emissions can be specifically contained and controlled so as to stop environmental hazards while making a pretty penny on the matter to boot. Go ahead you think you are smart, I even know why the world’s economy collapsed and it had little to do with US finance laws, and more to do with the most expensive war we have every had. The Communist Economic Warfare, then again most of you numb skulls do not even know the Communist are still a huge threat. Trust me the our government does not even know they are a threat.
    Emissions are a gold mine and it is untapped. I am telling you I am going to be a trillionair once I can freely place caps on emissions creators so I can harvest their emissions. I mean think about it. They have to do these standards. I say hey, I will make you 98% above and beyond, and I will do it for free. I have the ability currently to cap and sell many emissions creators emissions. While also having a major market place that is a niche that I am going to be rich itch. LOL

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