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Rod Bremby’s Action Drove Away the Refinery

In The Wichita Eagle (Roderick L. Bremby: Neufeld Disregards Truth About Air Permits, May 17, 2008) the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment takes issue with Kansas House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, a Republican from Ingalls. The point of contention is that Neufeld claims that if not for Bremby, Kansas might have landed a large oil refinery. Bremby disagrees with Neufeld’s assertion that Bremby’s actions have created “regulatory uncertainty” in Kansas.

There’s some uncertainty as to whether Kansas was really in the running for the oil refinery, or if we were just a fallback state.

There’s also controversy over whether the denial of the permit for a coal-fired power plant creates regulatory uncertainty.

But there can be no uncertainty over this: Secretary Bremby denied the Holcomb station permit because of its carbon dioxide emissions of 11 million tons per year. The oil refinery, according to Topeka Capital-Journal reporting based on its South Dakota application, will emit 17 million tons per year. (Hyperion refinery: possibility or politics? May 18, 2008)

So if a permit was denied because a plant would emit 11 million tons of carbon dioxide, what chance would a plant emitting 17 million tons (55% more) have of obtaining a permit? I would say it is quite certain the permit would not be approved.

But reporting from The Topeka Capital-Journal raises questions about Secretary Bremby and his actions that absolutely do contribute to regulatory uncertainty:

Phillips wrote to Kansas commerce secretary David Kerr on Jan. 22 asking for a commitment to approve the air-quality permit if Hyperion applied in Kansas. Bremby replied Feb. 11, “Kansas remains open for business.”

Bremby wrote he couldn’t commit to issuing the permit but said if Hyperion submitted the same application as they did in South Dakota, there “should not be a problem with issuance.”

The South Dakota application mentions the 17 million tons of carbon dioxide, which, if we believe the Secretary, would not be an obstacle to obtaining a permit. If so, why couldn’t the Holcomb plant, with its lesser carbon dioxide emissions, be approved?

Secretary Bremby has some explaining to do.

Related: The Kansas Meadowlark sees things that everyone else overlooks: Will Gov. Sebelius call for removal of carbon dioxide pollutants from the Great Seal of the State of Kansas?

By Bob Weeks

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