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Archive for Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Coal-fired plants still possible; lawmakers grill health secretary

November 7, 2007

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— Key lawmakers clashed Tuesday with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' administration over its recent decision to reject two coal-burning power plants in western Kansas.

The lawmakers indicated they would try to adopt legislation to put the plants back on track.

"I believe that we will have some type of legislative package developed, either before the session starts or after the session begins, to address this issue," said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.

But Kansas Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby, who denied the plants because of concerns about global warming, told legislators that future guidelines on carbon dioxide emissions will be considered as power plants come in for permit renewals.

"We do need to take the next step in looking at a climate change action plan," said Bremby, although he said targeted goals for CO2 reductions would not be in the form of regulations.

Bremby faced the legislative equivalent of a firing squad as he was summoned to testify to a recently formed committee composed of only supporters of the two 700-megawatt plants.

"What force of law did you have" to deny the plants? asked Rep. Carl Holmes, R-Liberal, who serves as chairman of the Electric Generation Review Committee.

Even though the state doesn't regulate carbon dioxide, Bremby said he denied the permits because the CO2 emissions from the plants would have harmed the health of Kansans and the environment.

"CO2 contributes to climate change, which contributes to global warming, which is harmful to all humans," he said.

Repeatedly, members of the committee asked Bremby if he intended to put in place regulations to limit CO2 in existing coal-burning power plants.

Bremby said that the state needs to develop a plan to reduce emissions.

"We have an issue we need to deal with," he said.

At times, Bremby backed off answering questions because, he said, the proposal by Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. will probably be decided in court.

Although called to the committee, Attorney General Paul Morrison declined to appear, citing the possibility of future litigation in the case. Morrison wrote a letter to the panel saying he stood by his legal analysis that Bremby had the authority to deny the permits under Kansas law.

Earlier, Sunflower chief executive officer Earl Watkins Jr. urged legislators to reverse Bremby's decision by passing a law that would restrict the secretary's authority to regulate only what the federal government is allowed to regulate.

Watkins said Bremby's decision was a "callous disregard of the law" that will put the Kansas economy at risk because of "regulatory uncertainty."

He said Bremby's order could cause higher electric rates for rural customers, business flight, and force Sunflower to build its next plant in Oklahoma or Texas.

And Watkins and others called to testify by Holmes downplayed the effects of carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. "Carbon dioxide is a substance that sustains life," Watkins said.

Executives from Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light also testified that Kansas must have more coal-powered plants to meet increasing demand.

Comments

Keith 7 years, 1 month ago

"Earlier, Sunflower chief executive officer Earl Watkins Jr. urged legislators to reverse Bremby's decision by passing a law that would restrict the secretary's authority to regulate only what the federal government is allowed to regulate."

Republicans are always against the federal government dictating what states can do, except when they're not.

dirkleisure 7 years, 1 month ago

"And Watkins and others called to testify by Holmes downplayed the effects of carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. "Carbon dioxide is a substance that sustains life," Watkins said."

Not only that, carbon dioxide is a key ingredient in Coca Cola! And Pop Rocks! And lasers! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_d...

Kansas is missing out on a unique opportunity to build more coal plants, release millions of tons carbon dioxide into the air, and sustain life. And build lasers. What are we thinking?

What better way to sustain the life being threatened by destruction of natural habitats then by burning more coal and drinking more Coca Cola? Thank you, Earl Watkins, for bringing some truth to this issue, and for putting in a plug for the Kansas laser industry.

Eric Neuteboom 7 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like some politicians wrote some checks their butts can't cash...

zzgoeb 7 years, 1 month ago

Assuredly background studies will indicate all the indignant representatives take large sums from big energy, ad nauseum to stay in office. We have plenty of particulates in the air already. Let other states build coal fired plants to pollute their air and water.

As for changing the law to cut the secretary's power, that is big government at it's biggest. I say hurrah for Bremby and the governor for this important decision!!!

monkeyspunk 7 years, 1 month ago

Dirk, now we just need some sharks on which to mount said lasers.

tolawdjk 7 years, 1 month ago

"Earlier, Sunflower chief executive officer Earl Watkins Jr. urged legislators to reverse Bremby's decision by passing a law that would restrict the secretary's authority to regulate only what the federal government is allowed to regulate."

Except that the Supreme Court has already come down on the side that CO2 meets the broad definiition of pollutant under the CAA and as such is subject to regulation. I'm not sure that Watkins Jr.'s request would accomplish jack.

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

Keep your filthy coal plants out of our state-thank you!!!!

dirkleisure 7 years, 1 month ago

Earl Watkins also recognizes that fats are needed to sustain life. As is sugar. So there is no harm done in having as much sugar and fat in your diet as you want.

It is about time somebody refuted all the liberal lies out there about what is bad for you.

JSpizias 7 years, 1 month ago

One has to wonder what world the governor and Bremby are living in. I don't think I have seen in my lifetime such mass hysteria as that associated with "global warming". So we now have decisions being made, of crucial importance for Kansas, on the basis of "future guidelines"? How do the governor and Bremby propose to power farm implements? Are they not aware of the paradox of their support for ethanol production by fermentation and distillation if CO2 is as detrimental as they say? How many citizens have taken a look at the bill in Congress by Lieberman and Warner: "America's Climate Security Act of 2007"? Lieberman has acknowledged that this bill, if enacted, would cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. A number of distinguished economists and climate researchers have peer reviewed publications demonstrating that the catastrophic predictions of the economic effect of "global warming' are untenable scientifically (see "Mistreatment of the Economic Impacts of Extreme Events in the Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change'' available at the web site of Roger Pielke Jr.) http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/about_us/meet_us/roger_pielke/index.html How many realize what a society in which CO2 emissions produced by combustion are reduced by 85% would be like, assuming it were possible to get such reductions (a very large fraction of CO2 arises from natural metabolic processes involving living or dead organisms). How many realize that water vapor is responsible for 95% of the "greenhouse effect' on earth?

I think we need to call a halt to our lemming like approach to climate change and its impacts and proceed in a more rational and deliberate fashion. An intelligent energy policy would involve greater conservation efforts, more nuclear generation, and more research to see if solar power generation can be made more efficient and less costly. China and India clearly are not going to destroy their economies because of fears of CO2.

"But Kansas Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby, who denied the plants because of concerns about global warming, told legislators that future guidelines on carbon dioxide emissions will be considered as power plants come in for permit renewals."

"BUSINESS / WORLD BUSINESS | November 6, 2007 PetroChina Shares Triple in Debut By DONALD GREENLEES Super-heated markets in China drove the value of the state oil and gas company above $1 trillion, giving it the highest market capitalization in corporate history. "

From NY Times article on China and its energy supply-October 24, 2007 "China's Green Energy Gap China's increase has been the most substantial. The country built 114,000 megawatts of fossil-fuel-based generating capacity last year alone, almost all coal-fired, and is on course to complete 95,000 megawatts more this year.

For comparison, Britain has 75,000 megawatts in operation, built over a span of decades.

dirkleisure 7 years, 1 month ago

Jspizias sez, "See all those fat people in their cars? If they can be fat and drive a Hummer, then we all should."

Jackalope 7 years, 1 month ago

A previous poster wrote: "Assuredly background studies will indicate all the indignant representatives take large sums from big energy, ad nauseum (sic) to stay in office."

Don't be too sure about that. It is probably a better bet that they simply do not live in an eastern social and environmental cesspool such as Douglas County.

portstorm 7 years, 1 month ago

Nothing about the power plants (for or against) in my comments but

"Earlier, Sunflower chief executive officer Earl Watkins Jr. urged legislators to reverse Bremby's decision by passing a law that would restrict the secretary's authority to regulate only what the federal government is allowed to regulate."

It's called States Rights Mr Watkins. The whole idea of the State model is that the State can regulate --in addition to-- the Federal Government. Look at taxes, civil law, property law. Heck some states like Texas have an entirely different form of state government (see the "Weak Governor" form of the State Executive).. on and on. Come off it here we know you and the folk in the counties that'll make money want it. However it is purely ridiculous to say that our Sec. Health can only regulate what the Federal Government is allowed to regulate. If the fed is the most restrictive regulator why do we need a state government?

It is an absurd argument. These are the types of things where some small town Rep changes fundamental aspects of our State laws for a pet project that then has LONG and far reaching impact that they were too stupid or too stubborn to understand.

deskboy04 7 years, 1 month ago

I am in favor of the power plants. They will be built.

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

This issue will end up in the courts. I do not see either side backing down much at all on this issue. I thought Republicans embraced the idea of states rights. The KDHE already made the ruling. The Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of CO2 being regulated as a pollutant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachu...

hornhunter 7 years, 1 month ago

A 12 oz. can of soda contains 2.2 grams of CO2, which equals .00485017 lbs. With the POPulation of Kansas (2005) being 2,688,814 and everyone drinking just 1 can for 365 days that would add an additional 4,760,039 lbs. of CO2. So should we also stop producing it and importing it in Kansas? And this is just soda, what about the other products made with CO2.

cool, what are you famous for and where did you Sprawl from? COLORADO?

yankeelady 7 years, 1 month ago

I think KDHE showed a remarkable backbone to say no. Now let them clean up Jefferies energy center in our own backyard which is long overdue. It is entertaining to see the reactions of industry when they find out it is no longer "business as usual." Instead of threats and bluster why not put their efforts into cleaning up their industry? Then they might be able to make a real contribution to the quality of life in Kansas, as well as a fat profit.

hornhunter 7 years, 1 month ago

This may play well for Sunflower, Yvonne Anderson, KDHE's chief legal counsel, said the agency will file a request to have the lawsuit dismissed. She said states operate "trickle down" regulatory programs, putting programs into effect after they've received mandates from the federal government. The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling will require the federal government to act, she said, not states

hornhunter 7 years, 1 month ago

Whoops, last post was over the Deans lawsuit

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

its_getting_warmer (Anonymous) says "I'm thirsty, need to go get a can of pop. Now, how many has that been today?"

That pop analogy is ridiculous. I do not drink pop at all. You can not equate CO2 from pop to the over 10 million tons of CO2 projected for the Holcomb plant.

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

"The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling will require the federal government to act, she said, not states"

We need a common regulation standard by the federal government for all states regarding CO2. On a separate issue the emission standards from vehicles is different depending on the state. Some states like California require automakers to manufacture cars with lower emissions compared with other states with less strict regulations.

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

"snow, Why not? Isn't CO2, CO2?" No, but a coal plant is more hazardous than drinking a soda, eh? Luckily I do not drink pop. hornhunter equates soda in terms of over 4 million pounds if every person in Kansas drank 1 pop a day for 1 year. The Holcomb plant is projected at 10 million tons. That is a huge difference.

thebigspoon 7 years, 1 month ago

I not sure how everyone else feels about this

But.

When I flip the switch on the wall, I like to see the light come on.

riverrat2 7 years, 1 month ago

Just check out the Rocky Mountain News or Denver Post. Colorado sure as hell doesn't want the coal plants in their beautiful state. Put 'em in Kansas.

And as always, there are a few people who stand to make a 'pile' off of this.....so it comes down to who has the most throats on the 'pay enhancements' in the right places. It's business.

hornhunter 7 years, 1 month ago

snow, If CO2 to not really CO2, what is it?

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

hornhunter (Anonymous) says "snow, If CO2 to not really CO2, what is it?"

CO2 stands for carbon dioxide the last time I checked. Their is naturally occuring CO2 in the atmosphere, and then their is CO2 that is generated from human activities such as industry and coal power plants.

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

"Hornhunter: Don't mess with SnowWI. The secret is out:.he knows what CRP stands for and knows how to cite a single US Supreme Court case. And he has actually been to Garden City where all those poor illegal immigrants live."

OK. When was the last time you traveled to eastern Kansas? Oklahoma has adopted some fairly strict legislation concerning illegal immigration, though. Here is the information from a "conservative" source: http://www.jbs.org/node/6205

hornhunter 7 years, 1 month ago

snow, Your batting a 100 now, you know what CRP and CO2 is. So CO2 that is in POP is ok with you even with it being man made?

riverrat2 7 years, 1 month ago

Horn, thanks for the link. That's amazing when Ritter is talking about stamping out the pollution. Denver has had a 'brown cloud' for a long time ( I lived near there from '79-86) and it will only get more intense....I think.

We, the people, are simply over running our free space....everyone has to be somewhere.

I sure don't have the answer. I just can't believe the deteroration . Maybe that will decrease dramatically with the death of all us 'baby-boomers" that brought all this on. ?

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

hornhunter (Anonymous) says:

rat2, read this, http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org/: its to come on line in 2010

I am wondering why the proposed plant at Limon would use Lignite coal instead of subbituminous (Wyoming) coal? Lignite coal has a fairly low energy density and is of a very low grade. "Lignite is the lowest rank of coal with the lowest energy content. Lignite coal deposits tend to be relatively young coal deposits that were not subjected to extreme heat or pressure. Lignite is crumbly and has high moisture content. There are 21 lignite mines in the United States, producing about seven percent of U.S. coal. Most lignite is mined in Texas and North Dakota. Lignite is mainly burned at power plants to generate electricity." Source: http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/sources/non-renewable/coal.html "Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is the lowest rank of coal and used almost exclusively as fuel for steam-electric power generation. It is brownish-black and has a high inherent moisture content, sometimes as high as 66 percent, and very high ash content compared with bituminous coal. It is also a heterogeneous mixture of compounds for which no single structural formula will suffice.The heat content of lignite ranges from 10 to 20 MJ/kg (9 to 17 million Btu per short ton) on a moist, mineral-matter-free basis. The heat content of lignite consumed in the United States averages 13 million Btu/ton (15 MJ/kg), on the as-received basis (i.e., containing both inherent moisture and mineral matter). When reacted with quaternary amine, amine treated lignite (ATL) forms. ATL is used in drilling mud to reduce fluid loss.Because of its low energy density, brown coal is inefficient to transport and is not traded extensively on the world market compared with higher coal grades. It is often burned in power stations constructed very close to any mines, such as in Australia's Latrobe Valley and Luminant's Monticello plant in Texas. Carbon dioxide emissions from brown coal fired plants are generally much higher than for comparable black coal plants." Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignite

riverrat2 7 years, 1 month ago

igw:

If you gave me a free $ 500,000 house I wouldn't live in it. C'mon honey, what is there..there?

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

"snow, Your batting a 100 now, you know what CRP and CO2 is. So CO2 that is in POP is ok with you even with it being man made?"

The CO2 from pop is a super tiny problem compared with a large coal plant. Pop is man made and I do not care if others drink it, but it does nothing for me.

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

"It is so quaint how you are always providing a link to impress us. This particular issue has been written about for months. But it is not I who denigrates the Finney County workforce by referring to it as poor illegal immigrants."

I am sorry that Kansas fails to recognize that it has an illegal immigration problem. Non-farm employment in Finney County has decreased over 12% between 2000-2005. Job growth is obviously likely in SW Kansas if Sunflower somehow wins. However, I expect the issue to be a long legal battle considering both sides will probably not budge from their positions.

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

igw, I do not need you to be the grammar police. I type very fast and LJWorld does not have an edit or spell check function. FIXED For example, volcanic eruptions are a natural source of CO2.

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

CO2 stands for carbon dioxide the last time I checked. There is naturally occuring CO2 in the atmosphere, and then there is CO2 that is generated from human activities such as industry and coal power plants. FIXED For example, volcanic eruptions are a natural source of CO2. However, water vapor will always be the number one greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Ma... CO2 concentrations measured at Mauna Loa. "Carbon dioxide content in fresh air varies between 0.03% (300 ppm) and 0.06% (600 ppm), depending on the location" "A person's exhaled breath is approximately 4.5% carbon dioxide."

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

"Snow, I am glad you acknowledge the need for jobs in SW Kansas."

If you are looking for Kansas economic and demographic data the Census Bureau website is excellent. It has the private non-farm employment percentage change for every county in the state. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/maps/kansas_map.html

riverrat2 7 years, 1 month ago

Snow...........those are gross stats...Surely you don't think we're going that direction do you?

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

:".Oh, and your other wonderful primary source, wikipedia. Isn't the internet so:.authoritative." It is a quick source in the search engine. I use official scientific websites whenever I do reserach. Here are other sources concerning the rise in the CO2 concentrations measured at Mauna Loa observatory. http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/co2/sio-mlo.htm http://www.teachersdomain.org/resources/ess05/sci/ess/watcyc/maunaloadata/index.html http://www.eoearth.org/article/Mauna_Loa_curve http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

The Kansas Geospatial Community Commons also has good information, but I find it better suited toward projects related to Geographic Information Systems field.

Quickfacts gives you a good "trend" concerning what is happening in individual counties.

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

"Snow:::..those are gross stats:Surely you don't think we're going that direction do you?" I have no idea why Colorado would want to build a lignite coal plant. The supply of subbituminous Wyoming coal is right up the road and is "higher grade" compared with lignite.

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

The KU Insititute for policy and social research site actually shows the unemployment rate of Finney County dropping nearly a full percentage point between 2005 and 2006. The 2006 data showed that the unemployment rate of the county was 3.6%. This is well below the state average of 4.5%. http://www.ipsr.ku.edu/ksdata/ksah/KSA41.pdf "The Kansas Statistical Abstract" 2006

Jackalope 7 years, 1 month ago

It is apparent that snowWI has a very low opinion of the people who live in the southwest. I have had the opportunity to live in both areas and still travel the state regularly. In all of that I have never seen crack heads, male and female prostitutes, and beggars roaming and sitting around on the downtown streets of Garden City, Dodge City or Liberal as are seemingly constantly present in downtown Lawrence. What an inviting picture to those from outside the area. Expensive shops and dives on the same block. Fancy dining in the front and brown-bag wine out back. Buy a nice refinished cabinet inside contract a disease from the scum leaning up against a tree on the sidewalk. Yes sir, Lawrence must be a great place to live and work. It certainly has it all. That, however, is not so disturbing as the filthy, belching, KPL plant north of the fair city of Lawrence, that everybody sees when approaching Lawrence form either the east or the west. Lawrence has devolved into an absolute social, political, and environmental cesspool that is seemingly incapable of seeing or correcting its own social and environmental squaller. Heck, Lawrence cannot even get its act together long enough to build a simple traffic way from one side of town to the other. Being totally dysfunctional, it tries to make itself feel better by striking out at others. Physician, heal thyself.

dirkleisure 7 years, 1 month ago

The Xcel plant in Pueblo is a bogus comparison. Xcel is expanding their existing plant under an agreement reached in 2004.

Xcel Energy reached agreement with Colorado environmental and conservation groups paving the way for an expansion of its Comanche coal-burning plant near Pueblo.

Sunflower and their bought-off politicians have no interest in reaching a similar agreement. Additionally, there was no legal authority to regulate CO2 in 2004.

Unfortunately for those who would reference the Pueblo plant, this is 2007. Granted, most of you wish it was still 2004 and you could cast another vote for W......

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

"It is apparent that snowWI has a very low opinion of the people who live in the southwest"

I don't think so. The majority of Kansas residents are very hard working and friendly.I have already said that Kansas needs to address the illegal immigration problem. I like the SW people just fine, but I do not like the weather there or the semi-arid climate.

"In all of that I have never seen crack heads, male and female prostitutes, and beggars roaming and sitting around on the downtown streets of Garden City, Dodge City or Liberal as are seemingly constantly present in downtown Lawrence."

Actually Douglas County has similar unemployment levels compared with the towns in SW Kansas. The two counties with the highest unemployment levels in Kansas are Wyandotte County and Linn County. http://www.ipsr.ku.edu/ksdata/ksah/KSA41:

hornhunter 7 years, 1 month ago

dirk, "Sunflower and their bought-off politicians have no interest in reaching a similar agreement. Additionally, there was no legal authority to regulate CO2 in 2004."

Nor is there legal authority in 2007, and it would be safe to say that Sunflower was working on their project before 04'. so whats the problem?

dirkleisure 7 years, 1 month ago

It has been widely established that the Supreme Court has created the legal authority to regulate CO2, so don't bring that here. Maybe you personally don't agree, but your personal opinion ain't gonna carry a lot of legal weight.

Is it safe to say the project was in the works prior to 2004? You bet it is. After the exact same 15 month time period for permit review, Sunflower was granted a permit to expand this plant earlier this decade.

They allowed that permit to expire and sumbitted this newer, larger request 16 months ago.

Regardless, they could've had the plans in place since 1942 and it doesn't carry any consequence. The times, in terms of legal responsibilites for KDHE, they have a changed. Get used to it.

hornhunter 7 years, 1 month ago

So now the courts have more authority then the EPA. The KDHE has no legal responsibilites same as the feds. Just more political BS

georgeofwesternkansas 7 years, 1 month ago

dirk

The Supreme Court has created the legal authority to reguate co2, true statement. This does not mean that state or federal legislators no longer create the laws that regulate co2 output. Key word "create" as in "not yet created", "hoping to create", "if we get the votes".

Sunflower met the current statutory requirements placed before them according to Kansas law, only to be denied by what Brimby thinks, hopes, or wishes may someday be the law of the land. Yes, it is good to reduce co2 output, but not like this. This is a political end run which is totally unfair and will never stand in court and everyone knows it. What it has done is make the people of SouthWest Kansas a political pawn in some game.

The professional staff at KDHE operating within current Kansas statute recomended this permit be granted, and were overturned by a politican. Please tell me how this is the correct.

By his actions Brimby has created policy that will not allow KDHE to renew any coal generation air permits in 2008. With all Kansas coal plants up for renewal in 08, and knowing that 75% of our power is going away within 12 months, we have a very big problem. Is this what the owners of this state have asked for?

Brimby in his lust to solve the problems of the world has created a rather large mess without any reasonable solution. If he does not treat weststar the same, well, he has to treat them the same.

We do need to move away from fossel fuel, but right now we have nothing that can replace it, and will not in my lifetime, maybe my grandchildren will see it. This view does not make me any kind neo-con but rather someone who has no illusions about reality. We demand electricity 24/7 and coal is the only thing that can give it and still allow us enough money to go on vacation. The nucelar construction/power industry was dismantled 30 years ago by the same movement different cause folks that never present any solutions and only promote panic.

Without electricity it is 1905, and I do my farming at the food market. I don't have any horses, or know how to farm with them if I did. How about you?

I keep asking this question but cannot get any answer. If we are smart enough to predict the weather 20 years from now, why can I not get a spot on forcast for Christmas?? Or better yet a snow report for Steamboat in March, I want to ski.

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