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Energy and Environment

Clean Power Plan Faces Uncertain Future In Kansas

holcombplant_b_thompson.jpg
Bryan Thompson
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Sunflower Electric Power Corporation’s coal-fired power generating station outside Holcomb, Kansas.";

The Clean Power Plan announced by President Obama yesterday is designed to reduce the amount of carbon emissions from power plants by almost one-third by the year 2030. How that will play out in Kansas remains to be seen, as Heartland Health Monitor's Bryan Thompson explains.

The Clean Power Plan sets individual reduction targets for each state, but leaves it up to the states to decide how to meet those targets. Any state that fails to submit a plan that meets with the Environmental Protection Agency's approval will be regulated under federal plan developed by EPA. The largest utility company in Kansas, Westar Energy, hopes it won't come to that, according to spokeswoman Gina Penzig.

"Westar has been supportive from the beginning of putting together a state implementation plan," Penzig says. "We think a common-sense Kansas approach would be a better solution than to wait and see what implementation plan the federal government might come up with."

The Kansas Sierra Club's Energy Chair, Bill Griffith, says if Kansas allows the EPA to impose a federal plan, rather than submitting a state plan, it will make life more difficult for utilities that rely heavily on coal.

"The onus really will be on Westar at that point. If the state leaves them out hanging, and has the EPA come in and just do it by each particular smokestack, they're going to be coming down on Westar fairly hard," Griffith says.

Griffith says closing the Tecumseh generating plant near Topeka, which he calls outdated and inefficient, would be almost enough for Westar to meet its carbon reduction target.

Bryan Thompson is a reporter with Heartland Health Monitor in Topeka.