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Archive for Sunday, December 24, 2006

Proposed coal plants spark broad response

December 24, 2006

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— The public comment file on the proposed coal-fired plants in western Kansas contains statements from lawyers, government officials and lobbyists.

But it also includes handwritten letters and postcards from everyday Kansans.

Patrick Bauman, a fourth-grader from Pittsburg, wrote a letter saying emissions from the three 700-megawatt plants will worsen acid rain and global warming.

"I also agree that we need to cut down on the energy we use," he said.

Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. has proposed building the coal-burning units adjacent to its current 360-megawatt plant in Holcomb. Two of the three plants will be used to sell power out of state.

Many have opposed the plan, saying the plants will be the largest new source of environmentally harmful gases, while many have supported it, saying it will help the economy and use cleaner-burning technology.

Permits for the project are pending at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which conducted three public hearings and received more than 400 letters during a comment period that closed last week.

In the thick stack of letters, Deborah Altus, of Lawrence, compared the nation's reliance on fossil fuels to riding on the Titanic.

"The difference between us and the captain of the Titanic, though, is that we know we are headed straight toward the iceberg.

"My question is this: Do you want to be remembered for revving the engines or turning the boat around?," she wrote.

Many of the letters both for and against the project appear to be generated by special interest groups.

But many are written from a personal point of view.

William Clifford, an ophthalmologist from Garden City, supported the project, saying opponents should visit the current plant in Holcomb "to witness the cleanliness of the process and understand the technology used to clean the limited emissions."

Clifford states that the additional power will improve the lives of millions of people "through the delivery of cost-efficient, environmentally friendly power."

Ron Schreibvogel, of Holcomb, said Sunflower is a good neighbor and noted that if the federal government established tighter emission restrictions, he was sure Sunflower would abide by them.

But the government class at Andale High School in south-central Kansas voiced disapproval of the project. Teacher Casey Jones said the students studied both sides and each wrote a letter.

Twenty-seven students were opposed to the project while one gave it a thumbs-up. And folded neatly into one large envelope was a 4-foot-by-2-foot piece of paper signed by dozens of Kansas University students opposed to the project.

KDHE Secretary Roderick L. Bremby said "the large response shows that Kansans care deeply about issues affecting our state."

Bremby said the agency has started to review the comments "and will address each issue presented."

But Bremby has provided no timeline on when a decision will be reached.

"We want to be sure that we give each statement the thorough review it deserves and that all issues raised in them are investigated and addressed," he said.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

William Clifford, an ophthalmologist from Garden City, supported the project, saying opponents should visit the current plant in Holcomb "to witness the cleanliness of the process and understand the technology used to clean the limited emissions."


This typifies the convoluted ignorance required to support the construction of these powerplants.

windy 8 years ago

Bozo, would you have a problem with that, it sounds like it maybe a good idea so more of us would know how they operate and how things work there

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

The pollutants that can't be adequately controlled by the equipment on this "gee-whiz" tour are largely invisible. The only point of it would be to reinforce willful ignorance.

ASBESTOS 8 years ago

Secretary Bremby, the heir apparent to Koffi Annan. This is EXACTLY what Koffi would say:

"KDHE Secretary Roderick L. Bremby said "the large response shows that Kansans care deeply about issues affecting our state."

Bremby said the agency has started to review the comments "and will address each issue presented."

But Bremby has provided no timeline on when a decision will be reached.

"We want to be sure that we give each statement the thorough review it deserves and that all issues raised in them are investigated and addressed," he said."

Emily Hadley 8 years ago

At least Bush had now declared that we need to explore clean, renewable energy sources, like nukyalur, solar, and wind, so we can lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Instead of coal power in western Kansas, let's follow our president's bold lead and start building storage for nuclear waste there--only then can we move back into the 20th century rather than back into the 19th.

~

Seriously, though, coal is cheaper to buy than its true cost of and toll from production, especially since we are along the heaviest coal shipping route.

Solar and wind are the only alternatives I've seen that both work at many scales and do not require shipping in raw energy material from another place, much less from a place whose landscape is being degraded by coal mining.

Why would anyone propose something with so many better alternatives? Because it is cheap for them right now and they will make lots of money. Amazingly, that is worth more to many than their own health or economic future.

We can do better, but we can't let up. Keep telling them what you think, otherwise they will just start building when the voices of reason quiet down.

If we never look at the real costs of energy production methods, we will simply continue moving toward our own extinction.

With a president who says nuclear is clean, we have a long road ahead as stewards of our own and our children's survival.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Who will clean up after these poluting monsters?

The number of sites, the costs and the need grow, as Bush guts Superfund

By Bonnie Gestring for Headwaters News

The situation is grim. Nearly 200 people have died, and hundreds more have been diagnosed with fatal illnesses due to asbestos exposure from the W.R. Grace mine.

The place is Libby, Mont., America's newest Superfund site.

Established in 1980, Superfund was created for sites like this -- sites that present an imminent threat to public health and the environment. Libby joins the ranks of 1,222 other Superfund sites in the nation desperately in need of cleanup. In fact, the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that one in four people in the United States lives near a Superfund site.

And the list is growing. A study financed by Congress estimates that over the next 10 years, 230 to 490 new Superfund sites could be added, contributing upwards of $14 billion to Superfund costs.

The need for Superfund couldn't be clearer. Yet, the Bush administration, in its blind allegiance to industry, is rapidly pulling the legs out from under this vital program.

Since its inception, Superfund was funded by a tax on industry under the "polluter pays" principle. It operated this way through the business-friendly Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations.

In 1995, however, Congress let the tax expire due to pressure from the oil and chemical industries. Since that time, the Superfund balance has dropped precipitously, from $3.8 billion in 1996 to a projected $23 million in 2003.

By 2004, all reserves will be gone, and the cost of cleaning up the country's most toxic waste sites will shift over to the American taxpayer.

Despite this funding crisis, President Bush chose not to reauthorize the tax last year, and his 2003 proposed budget states that he won't reauthorize the tax next year either.

The president's concerns? Not the environment. Not the American taxpayer. Not public health. Not even the children who are daily exposed to toxic substances.

snowWI 8 years ago

The coal plants are a move backward in time. Using outdated pulverized coal technology that will emit millions of tons of carbon dioxide annualy with no technology to capture the CO2. Kansas has plenty of time to develop the types of renewable energy necessary to generate electricity. This electric cooperative is only taking advantage of the lack of regulations that exist in this state. We still do not have a RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARD. This standard would force a certain percentage of electricity to come from renewable sources of energy. I wonder how many people in Western Kansas will be supporting Sunflower in the future when droughts and the affects of climate change become the norm in Kansas and everywhere across the globe. Kansas continues to be a national joke when it comes to backward thinking on energy policy.

snowWI 7 years, 12 months ago

"Twenty-seven students were opposed to the project while one gave it a thumbs-up. And folded neatly into one large envelope was a 4-foot-by-2-foot piece of paper signed by dozens of Kansas University students opposed to the project." This shows that the younger generations realize that coal power plants are not what we need in the future. It sure seems that all of the decision making is being made by the much older citizens of Western Kansas. This could be because of the brain drain that continues in this part of the state. The average age of residents in many rural counties is over 50.

snowWI 7 years, 12 months ago

Kansas still has plenty of time to invest in new transmission lines in areas that need them. The Western half of Kansas is not the area that is seeing a large increase in electricity demand. More large scale wind farms need to be built that use the latest technologies. Wind farms need to make up a larger percentage of our total electricity generated on the power grid. Kansas must become a leader in the export of clean renewable energy instead of relying on outdated pulverized coal technology. CO2 emissions can not be reduced now or in the future using this outdated technology.

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