Inspired by Kansas rejection, opponents
target rural Mo. plant
Nov 13, 2007 - Alan Scher Zagier-
The Associated Press
A proposed new power plant in rural
Carroll County is drawing opposition from some local
residents and environmentalists who want state regulators
and the utility company to put more emphasis on alternative
Associated Electric Cooperative Inc.
of Springfield has received preliminary approval
from the state to build a 660-megawatt coal-fired
plant in Norborne, a town of about 780 residents
about 60 miles east of Kansas City.
The $1.3 billion project would provide power to
the 51 local co-ops the large utility serves.
But amid growing concern over global warming, project
opponents say the new plant would increase health
risks and air pollution, generating 6.8 million tons
annually of carbon dioxide.
They want Missouri regulators to take cues from
their counterparts in Kansas, where the state's health
and environment secretary rejected an air-quality
permit for a pair of coal-fired plants Sunflower
Electric Power Corp. hoped to build in Holcomb.
"We need to reject permits for more coal-burning
power plants until we figure out what to do about
global warming," said Melissa Hope of the Sierra
Club's Missouri chapter.
The project has the support of city and county officials,
who say the economic impact is sorely needed. But
some area residents worry that the health risks of
living near a power plant render that argument moot.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources had
scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday night in Norborne.
A final decision from the Department of Natural
Resources could come as soon as mid-January, or 60
days after the Nov. 21 deadline for written public
comments, said Kyra Moore, permit section chief for
the agency's air pollution control program.
Should the department give final approval, construction
is expected to begin in 2008, with anticipated operations
in 2013. If the state rejects the Norborne permit,
Associated Electric has identified an alternate site
in northwest Missouri, in the Holt County town of
As for the concerns over carbon-dioxide emissions,
Moore said the state agency is obliged to follow
federal standards when considering permits. And when
it comes to CO2, the federal Environmental Protection
Agency is silent.
"There is no federal standard, so under the
air quality rules, there's no requirement for us
to review CO2," she said.
But for other pollutants, the state has set emissions
limits that are more stringent than other recently
permitted facilities in Missouri and that are "among
the strictest ever issued in the United States for
a coal-based power plant," Associated Electric
spokeswoman Nancy Southworth said.
Customer demand for electricity is driving the need
to expand, she added.
"We serve rural electric cooperatives in rural
Missouri, and a few in southeast Iowa and northeast
Oklahoma," she said. "All of these systems
are growing, and they're growing exponentially."
The plant also would contribute 900 construction
jobs and 139 full-time jobs once the project is complete,
according to the utility.