Archive for Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Contradictions noted in state energy policy

Sebelius calls for both clean power, coal-fired electricity plants

September 12, 2007

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today will tell a national audience about the need for clean energy, but environmentalists say she is ignoring the 800-pound gorilla in her own state.

That would be the proposed Sunflower project - twin 700-megawatt coal-burning plants that if approved on her watch would be built near Holcomb in western Kansas.

"If she approves those plants, obviously there is a contradiction here," said Craig Volland, a spokesman for the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is considering a permit from groups fronted by Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build the units.

Environmentalists and the attorneys general of eight states oppose the proposal, saying emissions from the plants, including carbon dioxide, sulfur and mercury, will contribute to global climate change and hurt Kansans' health.

They also point out that nearly 90 percent of the power generated will be sold to out-of-state customers. Lawrence environmentalists Sarah and Ray Dean filed a lawsuit saying that KDHE needs to impose restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal.

A decision on the permit is expected this year.

Today, Sebelius joins Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in Washington, D.C., to tout a governors' task force report calling for the transition to an economy based on renewable energy. The two will conduct a news conference at the National Press Club.

Volland said Sebelius can't have it both ways - recommending renewable energy sources and possibly allowing construction of a huge carbon-fired project in Kansas.

Sebelius' staff says the permit decision is in the hands of KDHE.

But Volland says KDHE is headed by a Sebelius appointee, Secretary Rod Bremby. And, he said, Sebelius has broad authority under state and federal law to act in what she believes is the best interest of Kansas.

"If she really wants to, she could deny those permits and has the authority to do it," Volland said.

Last year, Sebelius indicated she was for the proposed plants, saying if they weren't built in Kansas they'd be built in a neighboring state. "It's very difficult within the borders of Kansas to control greenhouse gases and global warming," she had said.

But this month, she said she opposed the project because the energy would be sold outside Kansas, while Kansans would suffer the health risks from increased pollution.

Steve Miller, a spokesman for Sunflower, declined to respond to Sebelius' recent comments, although he said the governor has in the past said that she wanted to make Kansas an energy exporter.

"This project would help achieve that," Miller said.

He said coal is an inexpensive energy source that must be considered when trying to keep up with consumer demand. He said the proposed facility near Holcomb would be the cleanest coal-burning plants in the nation.

He said although most of the energy from the plants would be exported, he questioned why that was a problem because much of the Kansas economy relies on exporting products.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 11 months ago

"Steve Miller, a spokesman for Sunflower, declined to respond to Sebelius' recent comments, although he said the governor has in the past said that she wanted to make Kansas an energy exporter.

"This project would help achieve that," Miller said."

WTF? Every ounce of coal it will burn comes from out of state. How is that "exporting" anything?

"He said coal is an inexpensive energy source"

The costs of global warming are as yet incalculable-- but that is not the same thing as "inexpensive." What a tool.

LogicMan 7 years, 11 months ago

"Contradictions noted in state energy policy"

Hmmm ... and what about Mr. Dean's "deep pockets" for this lawsuit coming from his big-time coal-fired electricity-consuming air conditioning company?

Janet Lowther 7 years, 11 months ago

As I understand it, KDHE doesn't have a lot of choice when it comes to issuing the air permits: If the project meets standards it has to be approved.

Where the state has a LOT more authority is in water rights. It takes a lot of water to make a 700MW coal fired power plant run: Makeup water for the boilers, water for the cooling towers for the condensers, water to prevent coal dust from blowing. If the site isn't on irrigated fields they'll have to get new water rights, which the state can refuse for a whole panoply of reasons.

ralphralph 7 years, 11 months ago

Why the bleep are we still building coal-burners?

LogicMan 7 years, 11 months ago

"Why the bleep are we still building coal-burners?"

Because we have lots of coal, and it's the most economical fuel for generating electricity.

snowWI 7 years, 11 months ago

"Steve Miller, a spokesman for Sunflower, declined to respond to Sebelius' recent comments, although he said the governor has in the past said that she wanted to make Kansas an energy exporter.

"This project would help achieve that," Miller said.

He said coal is an inexpensive energy source that must be considered when trying to keep up with consumer demand. He said the proposed facility near Holcomb would be the cleanest coal-burning plants in the nation.

He said although most of the energy from the plants would be exported, he questioned why that was a problem because much of the Kansas economy relies on exporting products"

NO, coal is not inexpensive when you calculate the intrinstic hidden costs associated with health concerns, and global climate change concerns. Also, the price of transporting coal LONG DISTANCES from the Rocky Mountains will lead to an increase in costs over time. The water rights issue is huge out there considering the vast depletion of the Oglalla Aquifer. The CO2 emissions from a power plant complex of this size would be one of the largest new source of man-made greenhouse gases in the entire country. Kansas should be an exporter of clean renewable energy instead of exporting electricity to the POWER GREEDY FRONT RANGE. Let Colorado decide their own electricity future without Kansas having to pay the consequences of having the coal power plant. They want to build this plant in Holcomb before the new TOUGH regulations on CO2 are implemented in Congress.

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