Archive for Friday, October 19, 2007

Lawrence played a role in derailing power project

October 19, 2007


KDHE denies coal plant permit

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby denied Sunflower Electric Power Corporation a permit to build a large coal-fired power plant in western Kansas. Enlarge video

Lawrence is closer to St. Louis and Oklahoma City than it is to tiny Holcomb, Kan.

But that didn't stop Lawrencians from leading the opposition to the proposed coal-fired electric plants nearly 320 miles west of Massachusetts Street.

From the outset, Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. faced an army of opposition from Lawrence residents.

That grated on the nerves of some in western Kansas who support the project as a way to bolster the regional economy.

When the Lawrence City Commission voted to oppose the project, Sunflower Electric spokesman Steve Miller said, "I personally will make it my crusade to make sure all our western Kansas dollars are diverted as far away from Lawrence as they can be because they have unfairly stuck their nose in western Kansas' business." Miller later apologized.

More than 370 people attended last year's public hearing in Lawrence on the project - so many folks that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment was forced to conduct an additional hearing day.

That attendance was more than the number of folks who showed up at earlier public hearings in Garden City (95) and Topeka (120). Many of those at the Topeka meeting drove in from Lawrence.

In Lawrence, the main opposition to the plants has been based on environmental and health factors. The plants were projected to pump approximately 11 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year.

Scientists believe carbon dioxide traps heat, causing global warming.

Lawrence residents Sarah and Ray Dean filed a lawsuit seeking to derail the project by forcing KDHE to establish regulations on carbon dioxide.

Their attorney, Bob Eye, also of Lawrence, said that while Lawrence has a reputation for being at the forefront of the environment, the rest of the country and state are catching up.

"The tipping point has occurred at least in terms of the public's perception of the problem" about global warming, Eye said.

Climate change has become "legitimized," Eye said, because of media coverage, and the recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize to former Vice President Al Gore for his work fighting global warming.

"The Nobel committee is not going to hand the prize to someone who is a lunatic-fringe quack," Eye said.

He said he understood why some in western Kansas would be angry at folks in eastern Kansas for opposing the plants. But he said full-scale development of wind energy would be better for the western Kansas economy.


deskboy04 10 years ago

I think that all of the environmentalists should reduce their footprint. Sell your oversized, energy monster in Old West Lawrence. I guess that as long as you recycle your cans and bottles everything is okay.

classclown 10 years ago

Local hat stores report a surging boom in business as Lawrence citizens find they require bigger hats since their previous ones are now too snug.

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years ago

This western Kansas versus Lawrence narrative may be provocative, but the truth is that these power plants would harm every living being on Earth with their smothering spew. The KDHE did everyone in Kansas -- and around the world -- a huge favor by denying the polluters permits.

The crowd supporting this dirty power scheme would be happy to chop down the last tree standing on Earth in the name of "economic development."

Western Kansas will have more water for agriculture, cleaner air, and the ability to grow crops longer into the future without these monsters disguised as electric plants. Let's focus on wind power and stop killing our own planet -- God's creation -- in the name of Mammon.

happyscriv 10 years ago

Average---- I'm with you. I would also pay twice as much for my electricity if it was generated by wind, solar or other renewables. It only makes sense to employ conserving techniques in our homes and businesses. And it only makes sense for the electric companies to spend time and money on renewables instead of spending time and money on arguing about putting up another coal-fired power plant. The polls I've seen in the ljw have been 60% or better for opposing these plants. I don't consider myself an "environmentalist" but I do try to reduce, reuse and recycle because it makes commom sense.

average 10 years ago

deskboy -

Not all of us live in oversized monsters. For residential electric, from 26Sep06 to 26Sep07, this 2-person (detached) house used 5392 kWh. Not perfect, but care to compare?

And I would pay twice the rate I do now to support wind installations and replacing the very dirty Lawrence and Jeffrey centers with a modern 3rd generation nuclear plant.

Godot 10 years ago

Well, this is the death knell for additional funding for KU in this legislative session.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

"Well, this is the death knell for additional funding for KU in this legislative session."

Why do "conservatives" always react to things that displease them through acts random pettiness?

Godot 10 years ago

Bozo, why do liberals always resort to personal insult when conservatives point out simple reality?

The Western Kansas legislators are not likely to take too kindly to the way Lawrence liberals, with the aid of many at KU, have dealt a fatal blow to economic recovery efforts in their districts.

huntershaven 10 years ago

Interesting. So Western Kansas would rather drain its water reserves faster than they already are? Alright, I have to ask. Why does Western Kansas hate their agricultural base?

teacher4ku 10 years ago

You obviously don't know much about western Kansas. Many farmers are moving towards dryland farming, which means no irrigation. As for you who think wind farms are the answer, I've never seen a high yeild on a wind farm come harvest time. The economic impact as well as the energy impact would be minimal.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

"Bozo, why do liberals always resort to personal insult when conservatives point out simple reality?"

There's a difference between "personal insult" and calling something for precisely what it is. KU had nothing to do with the KDHE ruling, so if the "conservative" legislators decide to retaliate against KU, it will be both random and petty (which is precisely why you will cheer them on, given your well-demonstrated fondness for random pettiness.)

thomgreen 10 years ago

I think it's about time Western Kansas gets a taste of what they've been doing to Eastern Kansas for years. How many times was casino gambling rebuffed and communities along the border had to watch their dollars go across state lines to fund the Missouri tax base? The same with liquor sales on Sunday. Slowly but surely we see a change coming. Western Kansas is losing some of the influence it has over the policies in this state and Eastern Kansas is finally getting more of a say. It's been a long time coming.

Godot 10 years ago

""The Nobel committee is not going to hand the prize to someone who is a lunatic-fringe quack," Eye said."

They gave the prize to Yasser Arafat and Jimmy Carter. 'nuf said.

huntershaven 10 years ago

All agriculture needs water in some form, even if it is not irrigated crops. I would think Western Kansas would prefer to keep the water they need for the long haul over drawing it out faster with a coal plant.

oldgoof 10 years ago

huntershaven, the amount of water needed for these plants was about 16,000 acre ft annually I believe....Far less than Lawrence receives in annual rainfall... pretty much insignificant in the big scheme of things out there. You obviously do not understand western Kansas, which is pretty common for Lawrencians.

teacher4ku 10 years ago

What are you smokin thomgreen? Western Kansas has little say in what goes on in this state. It's a shame too, because people out here are the ones with the common sense!

preebo 10 years ago

'I've never seen a high yeild on a wind farm come harvest time." Hmmm. Interesting. I'll counter with...

"Wind energy and farming are very compatible. Very little land is actually taken out of production - just enough space for the footprint of the tower and access roads, that is, about ½ an acre per turbine. However, multiple towers need to be spaced some distance apart to ensure that they all have good access to the wind."

preebo 10 years ago

"More than 370 people attended last year's public hearing in Lawrence on the project - so many folks that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment was forced to conduct an additional hearing day."

This conveys only one thing, people in Lawrence are more concerned with public policy then other communities. Is that wrong? I mean public involvement in public policy seems implied. Does that mean progressives care more about public policy decisions then Conservatives? Not likely.

"That attendance was more than the number of folks who showed up at earlier public hearings in Garden City (95) and Topeka (120). Many of those at the Topeka meeting drove in from Lawrence."

If anything this has shown that public involvement in public policy decisions is the only way to make yourself be heard by those we have charged with the responsibility.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

" the amount of water needed for these plants was about 16,000 acre ft annually I believe:.Far less than Lawrence receives in annual rainfall:"

What does the amount of rain in Lawrence have to do with the water usage of power plants in W. Kansas?

oldgoof 10 years ago

bozo: A number of posters keep making the argument that these plants will use outrageous amounts of water and thus these plants will be destructive to the SW Kansas ag economy. In the scheme of things in this regional economy 16,000 acre feet is insignificant. That is the point, however in-artfully it was expressed.
. . Too many people, logicsound, cool, huntershaven and thomgreen among them, obviously do not understand western Kansas in general, and the economy in specific. Their comments do nothing but reinforce to the rest of the state the perspective of Lawrence of being nothing more than a bunch of pin-heads.

hornhunter 10 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

hornhunter 10 years ago

And what was so wrong about my last post that it had to be removed, its was no worse then any of the above comments. Or is the site sfaff bias? Care to explain?

Miles Nease 10 years ago

Now, let's focus on shutting down that coal-belching monstrosity north of Lawrence.

hornhunter 10 years ago

none2, Would you give in for 140 jobs even knowing that the fruits of those plants are shipped out to other states and that your resource wasn't being replaced? Where did 140 come from? happy, The polls I've seen in the ljw have been 60% or better for opposing these plants. You need to remember where you recieved this info, ljw. Then you would understand why their numbers are the way they are, also remember this. ' Note: This is not a scientific poll.'

ConcernedAmerican 10 years ago

All you have to do is travel through northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon area, the Four Corners region at the corner of the states of Arizona, New Mexico. Colorado and Utah to see the devastation huge coal-fired energy plants do to the environment and air. So why would we want all the pollutants spreading across both western and eastern Kansas so Denver (or whoever, San Diego?) could run their air conditioners cheaply? Back in the late '70's, I built a solar adobe house and had a wind powered water pump, etc., and the powers in our government decided enough of solar credits and development of alternative energy sources, for that matter, and move on with cheap and profitable fossil fuels. Not so CHEAP but still VERY profitable today. Think how far ahead of the game we would be if that research would have been supported and promoted over the past 30 years. Has anybody heard anything else about the fuel-cell cars George Bush touted in his State of the Union address? Too bad individual inventors around the world have already made working fuel cell engines (one was murdered over his), but GM, Ford, etc. haven't rushed to knock on these peoples doors to see how they did it. They are too busy living off the profit from nonrenewable fossil fuels (the last tree!). 'nough said.

oldgoof 10 years ago

none2: You obviously don't understand the water situation in Western Kansas any better than most here. You also obviously don't talk to people from out there very much. For a few fields of irrigation, and the maybe one dozen farm jobs associated with it, the area would gain a 3 billion capital investment, and the jobs associated with building it, which are a heck of a lot more than 120, and the taxes to support schools and cities associated with having it there.

purplesage 10 years ago

On behalf of those of us who need affordable electric power, the portions of KS that need good, well-paid jobs, and the families who won't have that economic security: Thanks. Thanks a lot, Lawrence.

kansas778 10 years ago

This is what scares me about liberals, they think they are doing a good thing to these people, and so they will never stop doing it to them.

oldgoof 10 years ago

none2 says: "Sounds like I understand it a lot more than you do."
.... Hardly. None2, you obviously talk to different people. I too grew up in the region, my family still farms irrigated land there. My friends simply think your friends and your personal logic are dead wrong. That you would compare this decision to a 3 billion dollar wind investment indicates a typically Lawrence-like naive understanding about how these decisions occur. My friends too would like some windmills, but the wind doesn't always go, and the energy pipelines simply don't exist....and the power-line fairy isn't scheduled to build any without such a plant. Sad but true. And wishing it were different doesn't make it so. And your statement that "there is still animosity towards those that want to suck more water out" also shows pretty abject ignorance. This water is already being extracted. The plant will take some irrigated land out of production. 16,000 acre/ft. There is no difference between the plants permit and other farmers. So your statement would also indicate your friends have animosity towards any farmer currently irrigating with a permitted right. Take that opinion down to the cafe and express it and see what you learn. Or just have your animus-filled friends shut down your county's irrigation, and see what you have left. Yea, that would really help them out. Ha!

Baille 10 years ago

Western Kansas should secede.

oldgoof 10 years ago

Baille: they would if they could.

Richard Heckler 10 years ago

Western Kansas would be just as happy with wind power once they understand that more residents would benefit long term because they would not be concentrated Holcomb. The economic gain would be widespread for so many years just like the oil and gas wells are today.

If local,state and DC politicians would get out of the way the lions share of our population would be delighted with a greener lifestyle to include green collar employment. An absolute good reason to replace 95% of incumbents.

Unfortunately, Washington's energy lobbyists understood this dynamic all too clearly. And when President Bush assumed office, they wasted little time blocking this new momentum toward cleaner air by persuading the administration that the problem wasn't the polluters, but our anti-pollution laws. It wasn't a hard sell. The Bush administration quickly set about weakening the Clean Air Act, stoking public fears of energy shortages and blackouts as a rationale for leniency (even though 2001 was a record year for power plant expansion). White House staff and the Energy Department, working closely with lobbyists for the same companies we had sued, directed EPA to expand loopholes that allow 40- or 50-year-old power plants to continue pumping out 12 million tons of sulfur dioxide a year, without implementing modern pollution controls. What's more, in March, EPA Administrator Christine Whitman shocked everyone by publicly suggesting that companies hold off on settlements pending the outcome of litigation. Not surprisingly, Cinergy and Dominion backed out of their agreements and refused to sign consent decrees. (Recently, the administration rolled out a series of "reforms" making it so easy for these big plants to avoid pollution controls that they might as well have been written by defendants' lawyers.) A year and a half later, nothing has improved, and the opportunity for cleaner air that once seemed so close has been lost--the other companies, once on the path to settlement, have drifted away from the negotiating table.

In a matter of weeks, the Bush administration was able to undo the environmental progress we had worked years to secure. Millions of tons of unnecessary pollution continue to pour from these power plants each year as a result. Adding insult to injury, the White House sought to slash the EPA's enforcement budget, making it harder for us to pursue cases we'd already launched against other polluters that had run afoul of the law, from auto manufacturers to refineries, large industrial hog feedlots, and paper companies. It became clear that Bush had little regard for the environment--and even less for enforcing the laws that protect it. So last spring, after 12 years at the agency, I resigned, stating my reasons in a very public letter to Administrator Whitman.

kansas778 10 years ago

Merrill: "Western Kansas would be just as happy with wind power once they understand that more residents would benefit long term"

Translation: Once you understand what we want to shove down your throat is actually good for you, you'll thank us for it!

You people are really scary.

galaxy 10 years ago

I have helped work on the case against the power plants, for the last year or so. When the US Supreme Court, which is now 5 to 4 a "conservative" court, declared global warming real, manmade, and an imminent danger, this was earth shaking. Argue all you want, but the case on global warming has now been closed at the highest level. And It points in only one direction on this issue: Without big coal to saturate the market with cheap and dirty electricity, wind farms can now be built at great pace, and at great economic benefit to all of western Kansas, not just Holcomb. Every county with a wind farm receives "payment instead of taxes" : think swimming pools, good schools and roads, etc. Plus the farmer leases the land at $5k per turbin. Not bad for still being able to farm it also. (Seems like free money) . Plus wind farms employ more people than the highly automated coal pants do. If you don't think there will be increasing demand for clean energy, you aren't reading the papers. California accepts nothing else now. At No. 3 wind potential in the U.S., Kansas is now poised to start meeting the demand. Montezuma, Kansas (home to a nice windfarm) is not complaining.

kansas778 10 years ago

galaxy--could you give me the citation on that supreme court case, I'd like to read it.

kansas778 10 years ago

Never mind, I found it; Massachusetts v. EPA. What's funny with this case is, the EPA says carbon dioxide is NOT a pollutant, but the Supreme Court says it is! Naturally we'll trust those who specialize in law over the EPA. This was another example of legislating from the bench. I like how galaxy tries to insinuate this decision has more creditability because it's a "conservative" Supreme Court. Do you stretch before these mental gymnastics?

kansas778 10 years ago

From Scalia's dissent: "The Court's alarm over global warming may or may not be justified, but it ought not distort the outcome of this litigation. This is a straightforward administrative-law case, in which Congress has passed a malleable statute giving broad discretion, not to us but to an executive agency. No matter how important the underlying policy issues at stake, this Court has no business substituting its own desired outcome for the reasoned judgment of the responsible agency."

oldgoof 10 years ago

Baille: not without guns. otherwise they would have about 20 years ago, when the state changed school finance. Read up. It is well recorded.

oldgoof 10 years ago

galaxy: People out there have no problem with wind generation. But there essentially is little transmission line move the power anywhere.... and this capacity is very expensive to construct, especially over such long distances, making wind (in the magnitude that many here 'want') not such a silver bullet as people on these boards desire.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

". What's funny with this case is, the EPA says carbon dioxide is NOT a pollutant, but the Supreme Court says it is! Naturally we'll trust those who specialize in law over the EPA."

This is what happens when agencies such as the EPA are completely politicized, which is what BushCo has done with the entire executive branch, and extends to their judicial appointments. If you don't want legislation from the courts, perhaps electing folks into the other two branches who aren't corrupt to the core would be the best way to accomplish that.

kansas778 10 years ago

bozo, it's frightening how quickly you'll support an abuse of power as long as you agree with it's aims.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

"bozo, it's frightening how quickly you'll support an abuse of power as long as you agree with it's aims"

The abuse of power was at the EPA in not doing their job.

But I'm curious, k778, what you think of the Supreme Court decision in 2000 to give the election to Bush? You know, the one that they knew was so flawed that they said that it couldn't count as a precedent for any future rulings? The one that Sandra Day O'Conner thought was the lowpoint of her entire career.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

"Actually, have you ever heard of linkage? It may or may not be right, but it is reality."

Yes, it happens all the time, particularly from self-proclaimed "conservatives." But it's still random and petty.

"One could also argue this possibility is increased by the perception (true again) that KU is largely hostile to kids from western Kansas."

That's one of the stupidest things you ever typed.

Godot 10 years ago

With Lariviere's proposed change to admission standards at KU, putting more weight on social and civic activities, and on a written essay, rather than on grades and test scores, I can see the distint probability of a brilliant student from western Kansas being denied entry at KU because his civic activities included membership in the young Republican club, and his essay addressed the positive economic and social impacts of a coal plant in Western Kansas.

kansas778 10 years ago

The EPA has the authority to determine what is a pollutant and what is not. You may not agree with that decision, but that is within the bounds of its authority. I'm sure you'll be confused with this so I'll try to help you with an analogy. The EPA would have no business making rules about accounting procedures, it has no authority to do so. The EPA was granted the authority to determine what is and is not a pollutant by Congress. The court, in overriding the EPA's decision, is overriding Congress's authority that it delegated to the EPA as a regulating authority. When does the Supreme Court have a the power to override Congress? Only when they pass a law that is unconstitutional. Deciding if CO2 is a pollutant or not is not a constitutional issue now is it?

As to Bush v. Gore, it was a constitutional issue, having to do with the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Westlaw's notes on the court's decision: "having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, under Equal Protection Clause, value one person's vote over that of another by later arbitrary and disparate treatment." "Manual recounts of ballots on which machines had failed to detect vote for President, as implemented in response to Florida Supreme Court's opinion which ordered that "intent of the voter" be discerned but did not supply specific standards to ensure uniform treatment, did not satisfy minimum requirement for non-arbitrary treatment of voters necessary, under Equal Protection Clause, to secure the fundamental right to vote for President." "When state court orders statewide recount in Presidential election, equal protection requires that there be at least some assurance that rudimentary requirements of equal treatment and fundamental fairness are satisfied." "For state recount in presidential election to be conducted in compliance with requirements of equal protection and due process, it would require adoption of adequate statewide standards for determining what was a legal vote, and practicable procedures to implement them, and also orderly judicial review of any disputed matters that might arise."

As to your statement, "the one that they knew was so flawed that they said that it couldn't count as a precedent for any future rulings?" you again don't understand how the law works. In the Mass. v. EPA case, it was heard in 2006, and the decision and opinion didn't come out until April of 2007. In Bush v. Gore, the case was argued on Dec. 11th, and decided on Dec. 12th. Because they did not have enough time to write an opinion that could be read broadly, they simply said it only held to this specific circumstance. So what they are saying is the decision (which was 7-2) was correct, but they need more time to create a rule that could be applied to every circumstance. Or do you think broad-reaching matters of Constitutional law should be written in a few hours?

kansas778 10 years ago

Godot: " I can see the distint probability of a brilliant student from western Kansas being denied entry at KU"

There are two reasons why this wouldn't happen: 1. Liberals view high school conservatives as just ignorant kids that believe what their parents tell them, and once they come to college to be "educated" they'll become enlightened and switch their views.

  1. Liberals live their lives like conservatives. So KU wouldn't reject capable students and their parents' money over politics.

Also KU as an institution is just not that biased. There are a few (very few) conservative professors, and the liberal ones do not (in my experience) discriminate. Some in the faculty are outspoken (constantly updating students on anti-war rallies) and very active, though.

ASBESTOS 10 years ago

""The Nobel committee is not going to hand the prize to someone who is a lunatic-fringe quack," Eye said."

You mean like Yassar Arafat?

Bob Eye is a putz.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

EPA's mandate is to identify and to deal with known pollutants. For purely political (as in purely non-scientific reasons) they chose to ignore the problems of CO2 and global warming. In other words, they were directly ignoring their mandate from Congress.

What you fail to mention is that in the most in-depth analyses of the Florida election it was found that if the same standard for recounts was applied in all areas of the state, no matter which standard that was, any and every recount showed Gore the clear winner. Granted, the selective recount that Gore was seeking likely actually favored Bush, but there is almost no doubt that that decision was 100% political activism on the part of the 2000 Supreme Court. Sandra Day O'Connor knows it, and regrets her vote to this day.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

"You mean like Yassar Arafat?"

Sure, the Nobel committee has made some big mistakes, such as Arafat and Henry Kissinger. But both of those selections were quite a while ago, and the members of the committee are likely not the same people.

"Bob Eye is a putz."

Why? Because he disagrees with you, and has better powers of both logic and persuasion than you?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

"That's great - so what do you tell people who aren't in the financial position to fund these projects through a doubling of their electricity bill?"

Sticking with coal is not going to lower anyone's electricity bill. As a matter of fact, if coal has to start picking up the tab for the damage that global warming will likely cause, it will soon be priced past the point of affordability.

ASBESTOS 10 years ago

"In December, Sebelius supported the proposal offered by Sunflower Power Electric Corp.

She stiff-armed environmental groups that asked her to reject the Sunflower proposal and declare a moratorium on the construction of coal-fired plants in Kansas.

And in an interview then with the Lawrence Journal-World, Sebelius said she expected the plants would be built near Holcomb and that any discussion of restricting climate changing gasses such as carbon dioxide should be done on the federal level."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

I'm not going to claim that KU is doing a good job of recruiting any kids, from any part of the state. But to claim that they won't accept a qualified student from W. Kansas is just silly.

kansas778 10 years ago

bozo, none of what you said is true. Quit making things up.

deskboy04 10 years ago

I still want to know how many of you are willing to give up electricty. There is no acceptable way to generate it, yet you want it to be cheap and reliable! All of the houses in Old West Lawrence are oversized energy consuming monsters...yet none of those folks seem to care about their footprint.

Godot 10 years ago

My prediiction about the future admissions standards at KU and how they might affect conservatives from western Kansas is simply that: a prediction. It is based on observations from the past, and assumptions based on recent decisions and postulates them into the future; absolutely none of it is based in fact. It is quite similar to the thought process that went into Bremby's decision.

Godot 10 years ago

deskboy04, good point. I wonder how many tons of carbon dioxide KU emits, or causes to be emitted through its consumption of energy, every day?

deskboy04 10 years ago

As long as we recycle our cans and bottles in Lawrence, we are envromentally respsonsible. We like to think that we are better than everyone else...but we are big energy hogs! Our SUVs don't pollute as much because we eat trail mix while driving!

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