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Hands are dirty in coal plant deal

Rod Bremby confirmed last week what most people assumed: He didn't voluntarily leave his position of secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Bremby said that former Gov. Mark Parkinson's office contacted him Nov. 2 and told him that he no longer would be KDHE secretary. "There was no rationale given," Bremby said, though most everyone assumes it was to help ensure that KDHE approved an air-quality permit for Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build a coal-fired power plant near Holcomb. Bremby was told that he could receive a severance package if he agreed not to discuss the issues until after Parkinson left office in January. Meanwhile, a study released last week challenges Sunflower's contention that its new power plant would be the cleanest of its kind in the country. The report found that at least 669 coal-fired generating units have lower emissions of particulate matter than the current Sunflower permit allows and at least 321 coal-fired generating units have lower emissions of mercury than the Sunflower permit allows.