Press Release: Sierra Club Calls for New Burn Plan for the Flint Hills

Links referenced in press release:
1) Sierra Club letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Mark J. Hague
2) Flint Hills Air Quality Standard Exceedances since 2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 18, 2016
Craig Volland, Chair, Air Quality Committee
Sierra Club – Kansas Chapter,

Sierra Club Calls for New Burn Plan for the Flint Hills
KDHE’s 2010 Smoke Management Plan has failed to reduce pollution

The Sierra Club has requested that the Administrator of EPA Region 7 order KDHE to prepare a plan to mitigate continuing bad air quality associated with the seasonal burning of grassland in the Kansas Flint Hills.  The regional administrator can act under precedent set by US EPA in new regulations defining when excess emissions of ozone and fine particles can be exempted from calculations demonstrating a violation of the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS).

In order to obtain earlier exemptions, KDHE issued a Smoke Management Plan (SMP) in December of 2010.  In the five years since the SMP went into effect, seasonal burning in the Flint Hills has caused 28 exceedances of the NAAQS compared to 17 in the five-year period before the Plan.  Thus the existing SMP has failed to reduce harmful air quality impacts.

The new rules allow KDHE to use the existing SMP as a template for a Mitigation Plan, but the Sierra Club notes it does not measure up to what is required.  “The current Smoke Management Plan allows business as usual, while citizens as far downwind as Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska, suffer from bad air,” says Craig Volland, Chair of the Kansas Chapter’s Air Quality Committee.  “It’s time to update & improve the Plan with some new thinking.”

The full text of the Chapter’s letter to the EPA Region 7 Administrator, and a list of air quality standard exceedances since 2002 attributable to the Flint Hills burning, can be found (at the above links, top of this post).

For more information call Craig Volland at 913-334-0556 or email:

Note. Exposure to ozone or fine particulate matter generated from this burning, both in the area of the burn and downwind, could pose a health risk, particularly among any adults or children with preexisting asthma or other pulmonary or cardiovascular conditions.


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