Archive for Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pine, Francisco split on coal-plant vote

February 12, 2008


Audio Clips
Coal-burning power plant vote

— Lawrence's state senators on Monday split over a committee-approved bill that would allow two coal-burning power plants and restrict the state from preventing even more plants.

Roger Pine, a Republican, voted for the bill, while Marci Francisco, a Democrat, was against it.

The measure was endorsed by the Senate Utilities Committee, 6-2, and is headed for a full Senate vote later this week.

The bill would allow construction of two 700-megawatt coal-fired plants that had been rejected by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' administration because of concerns about global warming carbon dioxide emissions.

The bill also would limit the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's ability to deny permits for other coal-burning plants.

And the committee removed earlier provisions that would have established guidelines to limit CO2 emissions.

"This allows coal plants to be built whether or not they meet any limits," said Francisco in explaining her vote against the legislation, which was folded into an unrelated measure, House Bill 2066.

Francisco said she had wanted both the Senate and House committees to take more time studying issues surrounding energy policy. "The process that has gone on so far, with regard to these bills, I don't think is going to get us there," she said.

But Pine said he liked the bill. "I do not believe that we can supply the needs of our citizenry without having some coal-fired plants in the future," he said.

He said he had confidence in Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build the plants and invest in renewable energy and new technologies to offset CO2.

He said his support of the project may run counter to some in Lawrence who oppose the plants, which would be built in southwestern Kansas. The Lawrence City Commission has officially come out against the proposal.

"In my mind, if the folks in Garden City had told the city of Lawrence what they should do, and the shoe was on the other foot, they might not have been as impressed," Pine said.


Jerry Stubbs 10 years, 3 months ago

There seems to be a problem in this country with elected officials who do whatever they want, rather than represent their constituants.

MCwzMC 10 years, 3 months ago

"[Pine] said he had confidence in Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build the plants and invest in renewable energy and new technologies to offset CO2."

Your job as a legislator is to include teeth in the bill so that your constituents, their children, and grandchildren, do not have to rely on mere confidence that Sunflower will do as they promise. Do we even need state legislators? After all, lobbyists make all the decisions and write all the bills.

situveux1 10 years, 3 months ago

Why don't all the Lawrence tree-huggers try and close the coal plant that's in their backyard rather than prevent the building of one hundreds of miles away? I'd really love to heard a serious, truthful answer as to why this isn't happening.

Democrat 10 years, 3 months ago

From yesterday's LJW:

Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, said one issue that needs more attention is the environmental benefits of coal energy.

jayhawklawrence 10 years, 3 months ago

Roger Pine;

Don't buy anymore of his turf grass.

jayhawklawrence 10 years, 3 months ago

Guys like Pine only think with their wallet.

Frank Smith 10 years, 3 months ago

Roger Pine should be ashamed of himself. The legislation he supports completely removes any incentive for the coal industry to clean up its act and discourages the development of clean energy. The plant would not have to pay taxes for 12 years and would probably be built by undocumented workers, rather than trade unionists. Pine is completely ignoring the sentiments of his constitutents.

Mkh 10 years, 3 months ago

pusscanthropus (Anonymous) says:

"When is he up for re-election?"

Pine is up for re-election this year...and a Libertarian has already filed to run against him!

rdave13 10 years, 3 months ago

" He said his support of the project may run counter to some in Lawrence who oppose the plants..."

Like maybe the voters in his district whom he allegedly represents? Maybe Mr Pne could elaborate on the studies he has personally conducted on Sunflower's emmission control technologies. Oh brother....

rdave13 10 years, 3 months ago

Exisiting power plants just can't be shut down or replaced. Regulated utility companies and their assets are governed by existing laws through the state regulatory body. To force a change to the Lawrence or any electric plant, emmission control guidelines or standards must first be adopted by the state as law. Then the power company must comply with those standards by installing emission control technology or converting the plant to another fuel source. OOps...our "captains of reason" state legislators just dropped standards from their Sunflower bailout bill. do we force change without laws establishing emission standards? Tar and feathers?

MCwzMC 10 years, 3 months ago

situveux1 -

I feel like I'm just stating the obvious, but Lawrence "tree huggers" still rely on electricity. Because of the way electricity transmission works, Lawrence relies on the electricity from the Lawrence coal power plant. Sure, it would be nice to shut it down and replace it with a cleaner form of energy, but the government cannot "force" a company to (1) give up existing property - like the power plant - and (2) invest in alternative sources of energy generation.

The government can, however, condition the building of new plants on the adoption of more environmentally-friendly methods of energy generation.

Mkh 10 years, 3 months ago

To those who don't want the coal plants:

I think both our Senators and everyone else in this debate has missed the entire point. Co2 is Not the issue we need to be discussing!!!

All of you "environmentalist" need to realize that your man made global warming theory is not fully accepted in the scientific community much less the political arena. Not to mention how idiotic it is to forcibly try to label toxic (or worse tax) something like Co2 which each of us breaths out every second. You are not going to win this battle, at least not until the current brainwashed youth is old enough to vote and all the smart people die off...which won't be too long, don't worry.

Instead, the issue you need to focus on is the real pollution that these coal plants produce! The pollution that you can actually Prove kills and makes people sick! I'm talking of course about the massive Mercury, Lead, and hundreds of other dangerous carcenagens that coal fire plants let off. These are clear violations of the personal property rights of individuals all across Kansas. I realize that the "liberals" don't believe in property rights...but conservatives like Pine are at least suppose to in theory. Therefore the smart political move would be to attack Pine on this issue and expose him as a money grubbing hypocrite with no principles!!!!

Your welcome.

average 10 years, 3 months ago

situveux1 -

As I've mentioned, I've written Westar and KDHE about our plants. I've bought ethereal "wind credits". If we had generator competition, like other states, I would choose a different provider. I use far less electricity than average. I would much rather see even nuclear than these coal plants. What should I do next? There isn't a convenient gate there to chain myself to.

verity 10 years, 3 months ago

MKH---"I realize that the "liberals" don't believe in property rights. . ."

Where do you "conservatives" come up with these ideas? You don't get to tell me what I believe. Can't we have a rational discussion without these silly ad hominem attacks? When I see a remark like that, I tend to just skip over the rest of what you say.

Deb Stavin 10 years, 3 months ago

If all the coal production is shut down, what will Santa put in the Christmas stockings of naughty children? Hmmmm?

Ken Lassman 10 years, 3 months ago

Its getting warmer wrote: "I support CO2 regulation and carbon taxes. I support "finding a solution." But not in such a way where the burden is borne only by one small region of our state that needs economic assistance.

Are you concerned about CO2 pollution? So what have YOU done as it concerns your local highly polluting energy sources. It is a totally fair question."

That is a fair question, and even though the Lawrence plant was built with state of the art equipment at the time of its construction, it is no longer the case. I know several other states have made building new plants contingent on shutting down older, dirtier plants in exchange, and Westar should be told to look at that seriously, or told to upgrade the Lawrence plant--it can't be in exchange for the Holcomb plants, tho, since Westar isn't one of the players in that proposal. Maybe TriStar and Sunflower should be required to put even more into energy efficiency and renewables in order to offset the CO2--seems completely reasonable to me, but reasonable isn't in the vocabulary of the legislature these days.

One question I have for ALL coal fired plants is that the cap-and-trade strategy for mercury that the Bush Administration tried to run by us all was thrown out by the courts. What does that mean for both the new proposed plants in Holcomb and also the existing plants, including Lawrence?

rdave13 10 years, 3 months ago

its_getting_warmer :

"BUT, if you do believe that KDHE had the power to deny Holcomb, than Lawrence, and Jefferey plants are totally ripe for review....I support CO2 regulation and carbon taxes. I support "finding a solution."

I make no case on KDHE's justification for their ruling. If it was unsupportable by current law, then Sunflower should contest the ruling through the appeal process. As to the Lawrence plant being ripe for review, an investigation would have to be launched by the KDHE in order to review their emmissions compliance. Who knows...maybe KDHE does plan to use the Clean Air Act review process to start the dialogue on standards. But prior to that, an investigation would be initiated by a complaint by KDHE staff, the state consumer advocate , .but it still brings us to the question of exsiting law. If there are no standards, then the appeal process should have been an easy case to win by Sunflower. But why appeal when Sunflower can gather legislators to create a law that ensures there are no standards.. besides; legislators can be hired at cheaper rates though PAC contributions.

The question I was addressing was how to contest the exisitng plant and the answer is as you say: support regulations and processes that established standards. This is through the legislative and not the regulatory process which is what Sunflower is doing. It all starts with the law and as I see it, the legislators blew an opportunity to at least start establishing standards that would address exisiting and future emissions .

What is your solution?

Ken Lassman 10 years, 3 months ago

rdave13, I agree that the current legislative sstrategy seems to be akin to throwing a stink bomb into the room. I agree that instead, the legislature should be thinking about setting CO2 standards and mitigation if it were being at all responsible. But they don't even want to touch that issue with a 10 ft. pole. Unlike other states who have taken any number of issues like gasoline mileage, CO2 reducing goals and timelines, etc. and gotten ahead of the feds, not waiting for a do-nothing federal government, our legislators have made it loud and clear that they have no interest in becoming leaders. Kansas has been a leader in children's health care policy, victim's rights, women's right to vote, and any number of other issues, and we are ideally situated to be a leader in energy/carbon reductions because of our renewable energy potential and our agricultural base which could embrace a good carbon sequestration policy. But our leaders remind me of a bunch of southern legislators who protected the tobacco industry long after the facts were plain to anyone with half a brain. Just like tobacco, though, the anti-global warming ostriches will have to pull their heads up sometime, and they'll see that most everyone else moved on long ago. The only question is whether there are enough voters out there who are going to give these "leaders" the heave-ho before the entire state is left behind.

Mkh 10 years, 3 months ago


read Karl Marx sometime...then I think you'll understand.

BigDog 10 years, 3 months ago

A little news for you ..... Pine may very well be representing his constituents. If you take the time to research the geographic area that is in his district only a small amount is in Lawrence. Many of those residing outside of Lawrence hold a different view on the coal plants.

And as far as a Libertarian filing to run against him ...... exactly how many Libertarians hold elected office in Kansas? I don't know about the local levels throughout the state but zero are in the state legislature or state-wide office.

BigDog 10 years, 3 months ago

And how is Francisco voting against the bill .... not voting the party line.

janeyb 10 years, 3 months ago

One of the two proposed plants would be 100% owned by a corporation in Colorado and 70% of the second plant would be owned by a corporation in Oklahoma. Only 30% of one plant would be owned by Kansas corporations. The Colorado corporation is investing in wind energy in Colorado (where the coal plant proposal was denied for environmental reasons). This info came from a someone in the Legislature.

Kansas doesn't need to be these corporation's b*$ches. Let them work it out with their own states, or if they do build in Kansas let's tax them like a pack of cigarettes and require the employees be Kansas residents.

janeyb 10 years, 3 months ago

The bill had few real offsets for CO2 emissions and pretty much opened up the state for other new coal-fired plants. The KCC was removed from regulation of the companies, so mitigation costs, taxes, etc., could be passed entirely to consumers. The KDHE was also taken out of the process, so in locations where there are no existing codes, new plants could be installed. Net-metering was included, but only for solar energy production and not for wind. Most net-metering in Kansas is for wind. And because the corporations who would own the plants have no presence in Kansas there was doubt as to whether any energy "export" profits would be realized in Kansas.

snowWI 10 years, 3 months ago

Good points janeyb!

Kansas needs to pass the Renewable Porfolio Standards requirement. Oh, but it probably does not even matter now. Kansas will never develop its wind energy potential like more progressive states. Instead, we get even more sources of CO2, SO2, NOx, and mercury. All pulverized coal plants in this state will immediately become dinosaurs if new federal CO2 regulations come into place. The ratepayers in western Kansas will be affected by this blunder by Sunflower. This plant is cleaner than those in NE Kansas, but any pulverized coal plant will still be obsolete because no CO2 capture and sequestration potential exists.

snowWI 10 years, 3 months ago

Oh, and I have sent a letter to the KDHE asking them to clean up the coal plants in NE Kansas. Some of those were originally built over 50 years ago.

janeyb 10 years, 3 months ago

snowWI I give credit to my having any understanding to Ann Mah my home district's state representative. Ann sees the business/consumer side as well as the environmental issues. Thank you for your information. It just doesn't make sense to build more of the same in Western KS and back it up by raving about the outdated plants in NE Kansas.

And the bill WAS going to make Kansas the B---ch.

snowWI 10 years, 3 months ago

"He said he had confidence in Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build the plants and invest in renewable energy and new technologies to offset CO2."

This huge coal plant will reduce the need to develop alternative sources of energy that would include more wind farms. Pine is too optimistic for his own good.

getreal 10 years, 3 months ago

Pine is up for reelection in November. No Libertarian has filed yet to run against him. However a Libertarian and, Rep. Tom Holland have filed campaign committee reports. Lawrence can replace Pine with a proven legislator who is more in line with the views of Lawrencians.

If this bill makes you as mad as it makes me, volunteer to help Tom Holland get elected and then go vote Pine out of office!.

snowWI 10 years, 3 months ago

IGW, I have taken steps regarding what you have said. You are correct that we have 7 coal units in E Kansas. Those include: 3 units near St. Marys 1 unit near Topeka 1 unit? near Lawrence 2 units near La Cygne

MCwzMC 10 years, 3 months ago


I agree. Taking a closer look at the problems with energy generation in eastern Kansas is a good idea. Perhaps shutting the plant in Lawrence is a good idea too.

I'm not a scientist, and I'm not Nostradamus. Really, I'm in no position not weigh in on which side of the global warming debate will prove factually correct. In fact, I don't really care which side is correct.

I reason (1) that I would rather do something than nothing and (2) that waiting for a lack of scientific consensus to act on an issue prevents action almost indefinitely. For the reasons articulated by Logicsound, building NEW plants seems like a bad idea.

If Kansans are wrong about global warming and they prevent the building of the plants, the cash spent on the plants will be spent on something else. It doesn't disappear.

If Kansans are right about global warming and they prevent the building of the plants, maybe they prevent the global warming cluster**ck that some scientists predict.

Heck, maybe the planet is screwed any way you slice it whether people try to counteract global warming or not.

Sure, the plants will provide western Kansas some economic stimulus, but that's a lousy reason to contribute to what might be a huge problem.

Kansas has massive wind energy potential. Glancing at wikipedia, it appears to be economically viable. Because having a healthy environment provides some people with a degree of subjective value, one could even argue that wind energy is more economical that it appears in strictly pecuniary terms.

Thus, I oppose the plants. Why not try? The worst case scenario is far less bleak.

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