Topeka A state energy panel Friday decided to remove from its Web site a background paper on global warming.
The 13-12 vote by the Kansas Energy Council after a confusing discussion was seen by some as evidence that the advisory panel is off track.
"For the Energy Council to be relevant in the long run, we have to take up the controversial topics of the day," said Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, who serves as co-chairman of the council. "We can't just argue over procedural issues about whether or not a document appears on our Web site."
Parkinson has been the point man for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in her administration's push for more renewable energy. But utilities and key legislators have been highly critical of the Sebelius administration's recent rejection of two coal-fired power plants in western Kansas based on concerns over carbon dioxide emissions and global warming.
Some of that friction is being played out in the KEC. The panel was established to provide a long-range energy plan for the state, but instead issued an annual report that is more like a briefing document, some of its members said.
"It's misleading to call this a plan," said Sarah Dean, of Lawrence, who has been a vocal critic of the coal-fired power project near Holcomb.
And the KEC's makeup has produced an industry bent. Representatives of utilities and some of the legislators who support them voted to keep the global warming paper off the KEC Web site.
But Jeff Kennedy, an attorney who represents oil and gas interests, said he was concerned that the briefing paper could be misconstrued by the public as the KEC's position. In August, the KEC declined to take a stand on greenhouse gas emissions.
"My concern is that I want everything that goes out to the public on our Web page to be clearly identifiable," Kennedy said.
State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, voted to keep the global warming paper on the Web site. The paper provided basic information about global warming and cited reports that said the combustion of fossil fuels has probably caused climate change.
"I know the utilities are all hot and bothered by this stuff, but people are talking, and you may as well get as much information out there as possible," Sloan said.
The KEC also voted to review the recent decision by Sebelius to join a greenhouse gas reduction pact with other Midwestern governors.
State Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg, and a critic of the decision to deny the two coal-burning plants, urged the KEC to review the pact, saying "we shouldn't back off" just because Sebelius has signed the agreement.
KEC leaders also proposed splitting the panel into three standing committees to try to make its decision-making process quicker.
Co-chairman Ken Frahm said the KEC needed to be more "nimble" and tackle tough subjects that will produce debate and recommendations for the governor and Legislature.
"If they're unanimous issues, they don't need our advice," he said.