To the editor,
Last Thursday night's standing room only sustainability forum "Focus the Nation" at the Dole Institute of Politics was very informative. Though I thought I understood climate change and alternative energy issues, it is far more complicated and urgent than I knew. Much discussion regarded the Holcomb coal plants, whose permits were recently declined by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
This week in Topeka, representatives from western Kansas are "fast tracking" legislation that will make it open season on coal plant building in the state of Kansas. Not only will this bill override the KDHE ruling so that construction on proposed plants can begin, it will also loosen standards to such an extent that companies from states where new coal plants are not being allowed will actually have an incentive to come here, effectively making Kansas, as Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said, the Yucca Mountain of coal plants.
It is understandable that residents of western Kansas want cheaper energy and new jobs. But it is also obvious that the dangerous and inhumane conditions for workers and the negative impact on the health of the entire planet make coal plants an antiquated energy source. It is the responsibility of the estimated two-thirds of Kansans who oppose new coal plants to offer healthy and profitable alternatives to our western neighbors so we can all prosper.
It's a complex issue that deserves much more than one week of discussion in Topeka.