For Immediate Release
October 3, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

KDHE Responds to LCC Panel Review of Proposed Sunflower Air Quality Permit

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) welcomes the review of the air quality permitting process proposed by the Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC).

The LCC voted today to examine KDHE’s application process for issuance of an air quality permit and review the standards used to determine whether an air quality permit may be issued.

“We welcome the opportunity to share with members of the panel the complex technical, legal, public health, environmental and public opinion aspects that must be considered while deliberating on a permit application ,” said Roderick L. Bremby, Secretary of KDHE.

According to Kansas statute, the Department has 18 months to issue a decision on air quality permit applications from the time the completed application is submitted. Sunflower submitted the completed air quality permit application on June 1, 2006. A decision on the Sunflower permit must be announced by December 1, 2007.

The Department reviews approximately 500 air quality permits of varying complexity and size each year. “The proposed Sunflower Electric permit is the largest and most complex permit application this agency has processed and it is our intent to get it right,” said Bremby.

KDHE received approximately 650 written comments and 150 oral testimonies pertaining to the proposed Sunflower air quality permit application. The comments represent the public participation phase of the permitting process and must be given due consideration. A summary of all comment categories and the technical responses to the comments has been developed and will be released concurrently with the permit decision.

The comments directly related to air quality were categorized into approximately 100 different topics. Each topic has been addressed in the technical response document, including many that were extremely technical and time consuming.

Some comments required additional computer modeling that added weeks to the permitting process. In one example, the U.S. Department of the Interior Federal Land Managers indicated that the proposed expansion would have a significant impact on the Class I Wilderness Area in the Wichita Mountains in Texas.

In response, KDHE, the U.S. Department of the Interior, EPA and Sunflower collaborated in performing computer modeling to determine if there would be adverse impact, a time consuming process that took more than 12 weeks to complete and verify.

Other public comments challenged whether the Best Achievable Control Technology (BACT) was evaluated for the pollutants regulated by the permit. Environmental and economic analyses had to be conducted for each technology available for each pollutant. KDHE staff reviewed all of the technology recommended in the comments and compared each to the technology proposed in the permit application. Each engineering analysis had to be conducted for each technology on each pollutant to ensure the BACT was met, a process that involved hundreds of hours of research and analyses.

“Our staff has done an excellent job thoroughly evaluating and considering the significance of all the information available to us,” said Bremby. “They provided me with the draft technical response document for review and gave me my first briefing on their recommendation three weeks ago. We have been very careful to not release a timeline for the announcement of a decision on the Sunflower permit application until last week.”

KDHE is committed to announcing the decision on the Sunflower Electric air quality permit application at a media briefing by the end of October. The Department will give at least a 72-hour public notice prior to the briefing.