Topeka Sensing that federal greenhouse gas regulations are a near certainty, Kansas officials say they want to put the state in a winning position when the new rules take effect.
But that will be difficult given the state's dependence on electricity produced by carbon dioxide-emitting coal, one of the primary sources of climate-changing greenhouse gases.
"Kansas is in a challenging situation when it comes to federal legislation," said Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson.
At the congressional level, officials say the most likely legislation to gain approval next year is one that would establish a "cap-and-trade" system.
The federal government would set a limit on CO2 for certain categories of emitters, who could then engage in trades to try to keep their levels below the cap. Supporters of this proposal say it will provide an incentive for innovation to reduce emissions.
Such a system would probably give companies credits for offsetting their carbon dioxide emissions.
Under that scenario, officials say Kansas could benefit from these offsets by developing more wind power or through carbon sequestration, which is capturing CO2 and pumping it underground.
But officials also say that under greenhouse gas regulations, the cost of energy is going to go up.
"Honest policy debate acknowledges that all approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions will force consumers to pay more for goods and services that require combustion of fossil fuel," said Liz Brosius, director of the Kansas Energy Council.
The hit in Kansas could be greater than other states because approximately 75 percent of electricity in Kansas is generated by coal-fired plants. The national average is 50 percent.
The Kansas Energy Council is getting ready for a cap-and-trade system.
Its co-chairman Ken Frahm called state efforts "a darned important" dress rehearsal.
But in this area, Kansas is behind many other states.
Ten northeastern and mid-Atlantic states are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that will start capping emissions in 2009 and then reducing emissions 10 percent by 2019.
The Western Climate Initiative, which includes California and five other states, two Canadian provinces and one Mexican state, has formed a regional cap-and-trade system to reduce emissions 15 percent by 2020.
Kansas has joined the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. This includes five other states and a Canadian province but its work is trailing the other regional initiatives.