Hearings begin on Kinder Morgan permit

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

By Marc Powers ~ Southeast Missourian

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The fate of a proposed $250 million power plant in Cape Girardeau County could hinge on the outcome of an administrative hearing that began Tuesday.

Kinder Morgan Power Co. is appealing the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' denial of a permit to build and operate a 550-megawatt facility south of Crump along Route U. The two sides differ on whether the installation of expensive equipment to reduce air pollution is needed for the plant to comply with state and federal clean air regulations.

John K. Springborn, the administrative law judge presiding over the case, said he would take the matter under advisement once both sides have finished presenting evidence and issue a decision within 30 to 60 days.

The hearing is scheduled to run through Friday, though the parties expect the proceedings to end Thursday evening.

John F. Cowling, a St. Louis attorney on the legal team representing Kinder Morgan, said the pollution controls DNR have demanded are required only in urban areas with poor air quality. In the case of the proposed Cape Girardeau facility, the equipment would be needed only if cost-effective. Cowling said installing the equipment would be financially prohibitive.

The type of technology at issue -- selective catalytic reduction -- would reduce nitrous oxide emissions.

'Arbitrary and capricious'

The company said the pollution controls would cost $10,000 per ton processed, while DNR's own analysis shows a cost of $5,000 per ton wouldn't be cost-effective.

Cowling called DNR's decision to reject the permit "arbitrary and capricious" and inconsistent with past department practices. He said plants identical to that proposed in Cape Girardeau County have been approved in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Michigan. Other permit requests are pending in seven other states.

Assistant attorney general Shelley A. Woods, representing DNR, said Kinder Morgan's cost figures were inflated and that the company rebuffed attempts by engineers with the department's air pollution control program to reach a compromise.

"Kinder Morgan refused to discussed any cost-effectiveness figures except its own," Woods said.

Woods said DNR strictly followed established produces in reviewing and rejecting the company's permit application.

Both sides are calling expert witnesses to testify on the accuracy of the competing claims. Springborn will also review videotaped testimony of other witnesses and company and department documents introduced as evidence before making his decision.

Richard Kinder, a Cape Girardeau County native, is chairman and chief executive officer of the company's corporate parent, Kinder Morgan Inc. of Houston, Texas.

mpowers@semissourian.com

(573) 635-4608

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