The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Thursday became the first government agency in the United States to reject a permit for construction of a coal-fired power plant based on its carbon dioxide emissions, saying such emissions could harm human health and the environment. The final decision rested with secretary of the KDHE, Roderick Bremby, who said, “I believe it would be irresponsible to ignore emerging information about the contribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to climate change and the potential harm to our environment and health if we do nothing.” Sunflower Electric Power wanted to build two 700-megawatt generating units that together would have emitted some 11 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. Opponents hope instead for a mix of wind power and natural-gas power plants. And while the Kansas slapdown is an important first, at least 16 other coal plants across the U.S. have been denied for other reasons, including investor uncertainty about future U.S. climate legislation as well as higher construction and labor costs.