Cutting coal emissions will help breathing

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Emissions from vehicles and factories all lead to more ozone in the atmosphere. But in less than two years, a major ozone contributor will be off the grid, helping people in the Kansas City area breathe easier.

By April 16, 2015, the Quindaro Power Plant, operated by the Board of Public Utilities in Kansas City, Kan., will switch from coal-burning to natural gas-powered.

One reason for the change is a consent agreement between the BPU and the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club alleges emissions at Quindaro exceed the legal limit. The BPU denies the claim, but agreed to stop burning coal because it already planned on phasing out the energy source, according to a BPU spokesman.

"It's pretty much a win-win situation for folks in Wyandotte County and surrounding areas," Wyandotte County Department of Air Quality Director Bruce Andersen said.

He said when Quindaro stops burning coal, fewer harmful emissions will be in the air, leading to fewer ozone alerts. He said it's especially good news for people who struggle to breathe in the heat.

"They'll be able to go outdoors and enjoy outdoor activities without risk of getting into distress," Andersen said.

As part of the consent agreement between the Sierra Club and the BPU, the Nearman Power Plant in KCK will install a baghouse by 2017. According to the BPU, that will keep emissions lower at Nearman.

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