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Archive for Thursday, February 14, 2008

Coal-fired plants advance in Senate

February 14, 2008

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— The Kansas Senate on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that essentially would require the state to approve two 700-megawatt coal-burning power plants in southwest Kansas.

After more than three hours of debate, the Senate advanced the measure on a voice vote to set up a final vote today.

The bill is expected to pass.

However, the key will be whether it gains a two-thirds majority - 27 votes in the 40-member Senate - which would be sufficient to overturn a possible gubernatorial veto. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has been highly critical of parts of the measure.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he didn't know whether there were enough votes to overturn a veto. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said maneuvering and negotiating on the issue are in their early stages.

"This won't be the last time we see this. This is an issue that will consume much of this session," Hensley said.

The measure seeks to reverse a decision last year by Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby.

Bremby denied permits for the plants because of concerns about the effect of the project's carbon dioxide emissions on climate change.

Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. wants to build the plants near Holcomb. If built, the plants would emit 11 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

The plants are opposed by numerous environmental groups, the attorneys general of eight states, and the Lawrence City Commission.

But supporters of the plants said the $3.6 billion project and 2,400 construction jobs would boost the economy while putting up one of the cleanest coal-burning plants in the nation.

State Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, dismissed climate change as an "unproven scientific theory." He said China built 180 coal-fired plants while KDHE was considering the plants' application from Sunflower Electric.

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said CO2 was part of nature and helped crops grow. "I'm a farmer. We love CO2," he said.

State Sen. Chris Steineger, D-Kansas City, Kan., tried to amend the bill to include fees on carbon emissions and a system to offset those emissions. But that was defeated 32-3.

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, tried to strike a provision in the bill that would prohibit Bremby from using his authority the way he did to reject the Sunflower Electric permits.

Francisco said because Sunflower Electric has appealed Bremby's decision to the Kansas Supreme Court, the court should determine whether what he did was constitutional.

But supporters of the plants blasted Bremby's denial of the permits.

State Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg, said, "a bureaucrat overrode all of us." And state Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said of Bremby, "He flat didn't have the authority" to reject the permits because they complied with existing state rules.

Francisco's amendment was defeated on a voice vote.

Comments

hornhunter 6 years, 2 months ago

cools link, (Stashing carbon dioxide underground in geologic formations is considered the most likely method of sequestration.) But there are only two IGCC plants operating now, in Indiana and Florida, and although companies have proposed building more, the technology is not yet perfected.

Stashing carbon dioxide underground in geologic formations, this sounds like another Hutchinson flash back but with CO2, sounds great but wait, wait THE TECHNOLOGY IS NOT YET PERFECTED. Sounds like a sprawl designed 'GAP' eh kewl?

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

cool must have run out his list of youtube links

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cool 6 years, 2 months ago

coal combustion waste and water pollution, aquifer depletion of agricultural water ? air pollution & mercury deposition on crops ?

these are not benefits for KANSAS !

http://www.catf.us/publications/view/87

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cool 6 years, 2 months ago

COAL GASIFICATION ?

cleaner than the plants proposed for KANSAS !

http://www.hcn.org/servlets/hcn.Article?article_id=16275

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yankeelady 6 years, 2 months ago

So what happens after the next election when we (hopefully) have an administration that is environmentally friendly? When the feds DO regulate CO2, then what? Of course if this does get vetoed then the veto is overridden, someone will file suit to stop construction. Sierra Club, or Audubon, or some other group. I can't see this being built. Which is a good thing. The scary part is the legislature passing laws to end another agencies authority. I think they are also trying to change the process for judicial appointments. I can't wait until November.

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

Heck, enacting RPS locally for new Lawrence construction ought to be right up Cool's oft-expressed interests, too. He should take up this banner. He's an architect, he could draft this stuff up in a way that makes architect-sense.

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

Snow, all politics starts locally. I suggest you start a group to approach City Commission. They have already demonstrated an interest in these issues by virtue of their past petitions. Lets get RPS in Lawrence! All new construction or major rehabs!

Lawrence should demonstrate their CO2 concerns by showing leadership.

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

logicsound: "Odd that they would feel the need to create a new law to eliminate authority that supposedly didn't exist."


Not at all odd, as you suggest. A Supreme Court opinion overturning KDHE opinion could inject other uncertainty, and leave many process questions unanswered. Unintended consequences, you understand. (Nor is it the Supreme's job to anticipate these) Better to fix problems legislatively, and not let the issue hang for another full year.

This bill still has a ways to go to get to a final bill...including a possible veto and reconsideration.....

And as I suggested above, the other utility companies (Westar), and the Governor have strong self-interests in straightening out this mess this year, instead of letting it go to the courts for resolution. There will be a coal plant bill of some type enacted this year. If not, watch out Lawrence Energy Center and Lawrence! You have more at risk than Holcomb, quite frankly.

You also greatly misjudge the opinions of the Kansas populace. I wouldn't put too much stock in the Land Institute poll. And since you breathe Lawrence air, we already know you suffer from CO2 pollution, among other things. We gotta cut that Lawrence CO2 down somehow.

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snowWI 6 years, 2 months ago

"We ought to start any RPS discussion by first having Lawrence utilities and customers first install to the level of RPS currently used by Western Kansans. Another example of cleaning up your own front yard first"

I am not opposed to this at all. The RPS has to start somewhere in this state, or the feds will set the regulations up for us to abide by anyway in the near future. I am not even going to address some of the comments made by certain state representatives.

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logicsound04 6 years, 2 months ago

"John Vratil, R-Leawood, said of Bremby, "He flat didn't have the authority" to reject the permits because they complied with existing state rules."


Actually, we'll never know if he did or not.

Any resolution of that issue was overridden by the fact that the legislature created a new law to ensure that he didn't have that authority.

Odd that they would feel the need to create a new law to eliminate authority that supposedly didn't exist.

I'm actually surprised they didn't just see it fit to disband the KDHE altogether....

I also have a feeling there is going to be some new blood in the legislature come next election cycle. If there was ever a case of representatives acting contrary to the populace's wishes, this is it.

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

The Kansas Senate on Thursday passed their coal plant bill, S. Substitute for HB 2066 by a vote of 33-7. A veto-proof majority for this particular proposal.

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dichloromethane 6 years, 2 months ago

global warming is the biggest sham of the 21st century! algore and the whole global warming pseudo-scientific community are the biggest con artists in the world. why don't all the lefty enviro-whackoes all move to san francisco or boston and STFU!!!

The Kansas Senate will prevail and the Sunflower power plants will be built. sebelius is gonna get her butt kicked!

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

I still say that there will be a coal plant bill passed this session......because as I suggested, the other utilities including Westar, their Lawrence consumers, and even the dear old Governor, can not afford to not to fix what they screwed up here.

Oh yes, we will have a veto and wrangling over size of RPS, types of net-metering, etc but their WILL be a bill enacted

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markoo 6 years, 2 months ago

Despite any arguments for or against the plant helping Kansas in the long run on the economic front, I really have to post this quote again:

"State Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, dismissed climate change as an "unproven scientific theory." He said China built 180 coal-fired plants while KDHE was considering the plants' application from Sunflower Electric.

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said CO2 was part of nature and helped crops grow. "I'm a farmer. We love CO2," he said"

Wow. All I can say is wow. I'm not sure I even have the words to state how unbelievably ridiculous these statements are. Good grief. There's the intellect of the collective in Congress running our state, folks.

And Jonas, I really hope you don't try to give us the silly water-vapor argument anymore. The only misconception is for folks like yourself who have difficulty understanding what scientists in global warming research who dedicate their lives to the science have stated ad nauseum (as well as debunked such silly arguments like that one):

http://www.slate.com/id/2182564 http://www.skepticalscience.com/Evaporating-the-water-vapor-argument.html http://www.skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm

sigh

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

mynameisjonas: Good to hear, but one thing that may 'slow' down these projects, is the very application process to KDHE which should trigger a review with the standard that KDHE used in the Holcomb application, don't you think?

Evne after the retrofits, would not the Holcomb plant still be a cleaner one? Could this be a little wrinkle in the process?

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logicsound04 6 years, 2 months ago

Kansas Legislature: made up of stubborn buffoons who would rather hem and haw about some percieved injustice to their authority than determine the best long-term action for the state.

Exhibit A: School finance from two(?) years ago. Rather than worry about where to find revenue to supplement the severe underfunding the legislature assigned to Kansas schools, they all pulled out their finest snorts of indignation and decided it was time to restrict the power of the Judiciary. Luckily, there were enough reasonable legislators to see what was important--funding for Kansas children, not some balance of powers turf war. What did the legislature expect? They commissioned a study to determine the necessary funding for Kansas schools, then threw it out the window when they didn't like the number. It should have been forseeable that the study would establish a benchmark for what constituted "adequate" funding and that the court could measure the legislature's projected funding against it.

Exhibit B: See the article. Rather than pay attention to any number of factors that would suggest taking a well-considered approach would be prudent--the potential effect of excess CO2 in the atmosphere, the potential for the feds to establish restrictive CO2 limits of their own, the fact that the majority of Kansans oppose these plants--the legislature is back to their grandstanding ways. Except for the issue at hand, I read the quotes in the article and did a double take, wondering if I had wandered into an archived article about the school finance issue. The defiant tone of these blowhards is very similar to the tone during that standoff.

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Mr_Values 6 years, 2 months ago

"The plants are opposed by numerous environmental groups, the attorneys general of eight states, and the Lawrence City Commission"

Womanizing attorneys general and the Lawrence City Commission. Not the Lawrence City Commission?! That powerful commission of a couple of national powerbrokers that has shaped American policy over the past 10 years or the group of pot smokers with a decidedly liberal agenda to condemn anything pro-American.

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Nick Vaughan 6 years, 2 months ago

its_getting_warmer:

Something you should know. Through work I have personally visited the Lawrence Energy Center. You should rest asured that Westar has several large air quality control equipment retrofits planned for installation starting this year. They are working to make it better. It takes a while for a utility to move forward with these projects due to all the red tape created by government policy, but for good reason. So the time delay is not all thier fault. The studies and economica analysis for the Lawrence Energy Center (LEC) have been in place for almost 2 years. A lot has to happen before construction takes place including construction permits from state and federal epa. Plus, these installations trigger a BACT review, and a BACT study can take up to a year to complete (as we do them regularly at my employer).

So, before you get too upset, know that there is and has been actions on the part of Westar at LEC to make things better.

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

There will be a coal plant bill passed. Why? The Westar's of the world understand they are totally at risk because of the dirty Lawrence plant (and other plants) and the AG opinion.

They are lobbying like crazy...being polite and "neutral" on the Holcomb issue, of course..... to enact new language to make sure KDHE does not exercise its authority to address the sewer-of-a-power-plant that currently powers Lawrence and Lawrencians. That is what the AG opinion clearly created for KDHE.

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

bd: Just another person oh so-enlightened about western ks and its economy.

snowwi: We ought to start any RPS discussion by first having Lawrence utilities and customers first install to the level of RPS currently used by Western Kansans. Another example of cleaning up your own front yard first.

There is absolutely nothing which prohibits the City of Lawrence from requiring RPS or green-tags from being utilized for ANY new construction and major rehab. Since the Lawrence City Commission is so gosh-darn concerned about co2, let them show us the way through their leadership. Why not?

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snowWI 6 years, 2 months ago

The lack of an RPS in this state will have the potential to allow even more coal plants in this state. We should be building more wind farms like Iowa is doing. Bremby is right when he says CO2 regulations are coming in the near future. Kansas will be left behind the curve again, and the ratepayers will be paying for outdated technology. This includes all pulverized coal plants, even the new ones.

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bd 6 years, 2 months ago

I read an article a while back where a modular home factory in western Kansas closed down because they could not find enough qualified help, they employed about 150 people, I think it was in Plainville. A plant this big will more than likely be built by an out of state contractor who will bring in many out of state migrant construction workers who will make their wages and go home when it is done! A few locals will be hired as laborers. Been there done it! (Wolf Creek)

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laika 6 years, 2 months ago

"State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said CO2 was part of nature and helped crops grow. "I'm a farmer. We love CO2," he said."

Srsly? Wow

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

Lucky: those comments do accurately represent a group consisting of roughly one third of the Senate.

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lucky_guess 6 years, 2 months ago

"State Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, dismissed climate change as an 'unproven scientific theory' He said China built 180 coal-fired plants while KDHE was considering the plants' application from Sunflower Electric.

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said CO2 was part of nature and helped crops grow. 'I'm a farmer. We love CO2,' he said."

... now, these sparse quotes make me think that the LJWorld is once again taking quotations out of context in order to frame readers' perspectives.

I certainly hope that is the case here, because if these quotes reflect the actual education of our SENATORS concerning the environment, then we are in trouble.

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sfjayhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

This + the Huckabee victory is such classic Kansas - and so why Kansas keeps spiraling down the path toward complete irrelevance.

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toefungus 6 years, 2 months ago

This will pass both chambers with a veto proof majority. The reason, the way the Governor chose to engage the people in a dialog. Using KDHE to sneak in a policy change was bad form. There probably is a consensus on the need to control CO2 emissions, but that will have to wait until the Governor can provide leadership.

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

Reality check: "So, the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many? If this hurts the rest of the planet, sobeit because it gave some western Kansans a couple of jobs"


Just more of an attitude that for some reason offends Western Kansans and their public officials. Typed from Reality Check's computer which uses very cheap power from the dirtiest coal plant in the state.

Reality Check: Western Kansas commercial electricity rates are 200% of what they are in Douglas County. Maybe they have been subsidizing your dirty electricity ways for years. Double your rates and clean up your plant.

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Nick Vaughan 6 years, 2 months ago

Reatlity_Check: you need to get a grip bro. You obviously dont know much about power gerneration. Im willing to bet your knowledge stops at the plug in the wall. First off, our regulations in the states far exceed those China. This plant will be good for Kansas. You dont even know what 11 million tons of CO2 translate too. The biggest greenhouse gas is water vapor. CO2 constitues a small amout of the the overall atmosphere at about 0.06% percent. Yes thats percent. You obviously are a bandwagon whore that has followed a long mispreception of global warming, mainly driven the media. Branch out of the 4th grader level reading material in the news and do some due diligence of your own.

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Reality_Check 6 years, 2 months ago

So, the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many? If this hurts the rest of the planet, sobeit because it gave some western Kansans a couple of jobs, preventing the eventual depopulation of their county? Great logic.

What about the fact that 2/3 of the public doesn't support these plants? Don't the wishes of the majority matter anymore?

No, evidently not here in Redneck America. How sad.

Veto it governor.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 2 months ago

This is good news and a victory for common sense.

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lucasnad27 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow...those senators are so very poignant. I hope they are releasing an autobiography soon!

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MCwzMC 6 years, 2 months ago

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said CO2 was part of nature and helped crops grow. "I'm a farmer. We love CO2," he said.


Wow. Flawless logic. Precisely the type of heady, detailed analysis you would expect from the Kansas Senate. Just doing what they do best

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Eride 6 years, 2 months ago

"State Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, dismissed climate change as an "unproven scientific theory." He said China built 180 coal-fired plants while KDHE was considering the plants' application from Sunflower Electric."

Obviously State Senator Phil Journey hasn't been reading all of the articles discussing the horrible effects all those coal plants have had not only on the environment in China but the people as well.

Not only are all those new coal plants in China destroying their environment, it is destroying ours as well because all of that crap is drifting across the ocean onto US soil.

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