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Leader: Coal ruling hurts economy

Firms putting off growth, CEO of Kansas chamber says

January 9, 2008

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Local officials and lawmakers meet

Do no harm. That's the advice local leaders gave to state lawmakers on Tuesday as they prepare to head back to Topeka for the upcoming legislative session. Enlarge video

Amy Blankenbiller isn't saying that coal-fired power plants are great. Or that regulating CO2 emissions is necessary. Or that wind power is the answer to the world's problems.

The new president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce simply maintains that the state - by rejecting a company's plans for a new coal-fired energy center in Holcomb - is costing itself plenty when it comes to attracting new businesses, spurring expansions of existing ones and otherwise generating job growth and economic activity at a time when lawmakers and others could use some.

"The negative fallout from that has led many businesses to second-guess expansion, second-guess investment, and are waiting to see : how the state is going to stabilize the regulatory environment before they make ongoing growth decisions," said Blankenbiller, during a visit to Lawrence. "That's a huge concern."

Of particular concern to Blankenbiller, who started work at the chamber in July, is consistency. She said that while the state - citing environmental concerns - rejected Sunflower Electric Corp.'s efforts to build coal-fired electric plants near Holcomb, the state soon granted permission for someone else to build an ethanol plant.

"Consistent regulatory policies" are being sought by the chamber, an organization that plans to lobby legislators on this and other matters.

Among them:

¢ Taxes. The chamber wants corporate and individual income taxes reduced, along with simplification of the state's system for tax credits. The chamber wants retailers to be reimbursed for costs of complying with the state's system for collecting and sending in sales-tax revenues.

¢ Health care. While the issue slipped to No. 2 on the chamber's survey of 300 business CEOs in the state - taxes topped the list for the first time - the organization seeks to focus on finding incentives for businesses to provide coverage for employees.

¢ Immigration. The chamber plans to oppose legislation that would seek to boost penalties for firms who might unknowingly hire illegal workers.

Blankenbiller comes to the chamber job after working for 20 years in Washington, D.C., where she started in government - including a stint as a congressional liaison at the Environmental Protection Agency for the first President Bush - and went on to become a lobbyist. She grew up in Lawrence, graduated from KU, and is the daughter of Max Lucas and the late Jane Lucas.

Comments

hornhunter 6 years, 3 months ago

Dirk, How about a Vasectomy Clinic, to prevent folks like you from reproducing? That would save all in Ks. millions.

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dirkleisure 6 years, 3 months ago

r_t, I have a proposal to build the world's foremost Women's Health Clinic in Garden City. A $2 Billion investment, hundreds of high paying medical jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars of research grants on an annual basis.

The clinic will be a world renowned location for women's reproductive health. It will be the safest location on the planet for women to receive an abortion. It will also be a cutting edge fertility clinic. It will also be a cutting edge stem cell research clinic.

$2 billion. High paying jobs, hundreds of millions in new revenues pouring in every year. Doctors, researchers, medical staff, jobs that pay tens of thousands a year more than jobs at a coal plant.

You in?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"Yep, toefungus, it's politics. 100%."

You're right devo, and it's people like you playing it.

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KsTwister 6 years, 3 months ago

Another ridiculous oversight on the part of the citizens of the State. This gal just wants big business and FAST money. Who cares after that is her viewpoint.

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Tom Shewmon 6 years, 3 months ago

'Coal ruling hurts economy'

Who cares? The earth's shelf life was just extended another millenia per the environmentalist loon sons of bitches.

We don't don't need no stinkin' economy.

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devobrun 6 years, 3 months ago

Yep, toefungus, it's politics. 100%. The quality of science involved in this whole argument is far less than that used by the vandals against the romans, 1500 years ago. We've replaced the clubs and arrows with press releases, but the intent is political power either way.

The same people who hate Microsoft for their operating system love climate models. These folks put down MS for mis-allocation of resources into bells and whistles for windows vista instead of secure bug-free software. Meanwhile they swallow a program from the climate modelers without hesitation.

Take a look at one of the model web sites: http://www.ccsm.ucar.edu/ If you are a software guy or a manager, or just a person with some experience trying to get a damn computer program to run on yer machine, you know how flaky a program can be. The more complicated the software, the more likely it will fail. CCSM is a massive program. It is able to sing "Yankee Doodle" if you tweak it right.

What a joke this whole AGW/ACC thing has become!

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Pilgrim 6 years, 3 months ago

dirkleisure (Anonymous) says:

When she says this, she is making it up. Period.


Oh, you mean the same way Rod Bremby made up his alleged authority to deny the plant permit? He certainly had no statutory authority, so he must have decided he has the power of "Because I said so."

Either the legislature or the courts will show him how wrong he is.

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toefungus 6 years, 3 months ago

So, basically it is one special interest vs another.

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 3 months ago

Just another reason why the rest of Kansas is blaming Lawrence for the Coal plant decision. This just in from a press release by the Land Institute, the people who paid for the recent public opinion poll. Their press release reads:

Determined not to let our core work on agriculture slip, we hired a director for the new project on climate and energy. That one-person effort has grown to a staff of six, based in Lawrence, Kansas.

CEP seeks to build unexpected coalitions and make climate and energyissues that affect every citizenpost-partisan.

Because solid factual information can be hard to find in one place, CEP launched a new website. You can find it at: www.climateandenergy.org

>

We invite you to "Explore the issues, Learn more, Take steps, and Pass it on." And please, let us know what you think.

CEP press release

In October, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment denied air permits for two 700 megawatt coal-fired plants on the basis of carbon dioxide emissions. The decision had been characterized as risky, bad for business, and unpopular. CEP, which conducted a poll to guide its programs and activities, was surprised to find that in fact, "By a 2:1 margin, Kansans agree with the recent decision to deny air quality permits for two proposed 700-megawatt coal burning plants in their state. In an independent statewide poll, a majority of Kansans agree with the decision, with overall support rising to fully 70% in the Johnson County region. In western Kansas the proposed location of the plants only two in five citizens oppose the decision while 51% favor it."

Contacts for CEP Nancy Jackson, Project Director Climate and Energy Project P.O. Box 442217 Lawrence, KS 66044 Ph: 785-331-8743 jackson@climateandenergy.org www.climateandenergy.org

>
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Frank Smith 6 years, 3 months ago

The Kansas Chamber is entirely a creature of Charles and David Koch, a surrogate of the energy industry. Anything they say or do is probably vetted by Koch interests. Why should anyone pay any attention to them?

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toefungus 6 years, 3 months ago

So, the Chamber opposes clean air, but support dirty labor practices? Hiring illegals should send the CEO and all managers to jail along with the illegal workers and the company assets seized and sold like drug dealers. Well, at least the Kansas Chamber is telling us what they support upfront, unlike our own Chamber of Commerce.

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dirkleisure 6 years, 3 months ago

STRS, all the states I mentioned have put a moratorium on coal fired plants and pledged substantial decreases in CO2 emissions.

So, no, it doesn't contradict. It contradicts the argument that CO2 caps and coal moratoriums are the equivalent of having a "Not Welcome" sign hanging up. That hasn't happened in many other states. It is a myth.

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KLATTU 6 years, 3 months ago

"The Earth Liberation Front/Sierra Club types just don't get it."

So are the burn it all-pave it all-anything for a buck-who cares what we leave our children crowd morons or what? Here we are in red state central, darn near the buckle of the bible belt, and you are suggesting big money energy got beat by some eco-liberals?

Wrong. Regular old Kansans weighed the advantages and disadvantages of putting more highly polluting, 19th century energy technology in our state, and decided that that the cons outweighed the pros.

Heck, maybe if big money energy would let more of those record setting profits trickle down we'd let them in. But as long as they are going to take all the money (except what they pay off the local politicians with) back to their swank mansions in some other state (that also aren't allowing new coal burning plants to be built), and leaving the pollution and waste (coal waste was recently proven to be as or more radioactive than nuclear waste) for our children to live with we aren't buying it.

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logicsound04 6 years, 3 months ago

"I think the broader point is that our state's ruling puts a big "Not Welcome" sign out for prospective businesses to see. We cannot set arbitrary CO2 emissions standards and then expect new business to feel like our government will treat them fairly."


_If_you are correct (and that's a mighty "if", since you've given nothing but conjecture to support your point) that this ruling broadcasts some larger message to the business community, I would think the only businesses that would take notice are the ones involving exorbitantly high levels of CO2 emissions. To which I say--GOOD. That's the less obvious benefit of this ruling--that Kansas won't tolerate being the dirty air dumping state for other states power grids.

You are generalizing quite a bit by claiming all businesses will perceive the threat of disparate treatment. The KDHE gave specific rationale for denying this plant--this was not a case of the government denying a business because they didn't like it.

If the legislature was truly worried about combating an anti-business atmosphere (which I will emphasize_still_hasn't been shown to be the case), then maybe they should get to work establishing some exact numbers, so that the KDHE wouldn't have to use it's discretionary power to force Kansas to catch up with modern times.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 3 months ago

dirk,

Your post defeats your own argument.

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 3 months ago

Cool must be upset at a grade from Prof. Lucas in Architecture school.

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dirkleisure 6 years, 3 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says:

Sigh.

The Earth Liberation Front/Sierra Club types just don't get it.


And that is the difference between a discussion and an argument. STRS believes an argument has just been won.

Look! A belittling statement! An attempt to discount someone with a differing position! A refusal to respond to direct questions! A willful ignorance of facts and figures!

All talk. Seriously, what are you doing, playing the "liberal" card? That's cute. You're like a cute little puppy.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 3 months ago

Sigh.

The Earth Liberation Front/Sierra Club types just don't get it.

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cool 6 years, 3 months ago

WHAT a crock.

she's been there since July. an expert or a hired public relations front ?

the coal decision shows that we are thinking long term not short term and should be understood to be exactly the opposite -- making Kansas a better place for the future.

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dirkleisure 6 years, 3 months ago

Proof?

Again, you are making an argument, but you have no proof that is actually occurring.

Additionally, the Chamber is not making a "broader point." They are stating something very specific. They are saying there are "many" specific incidences of businesses altering plans in Kansas.

STRS, you are making an argument that has no basis in reality. You are also choosing to ignore all the other states who are taking a much more aggressive stance on this issue than Kansas.

Is your argument that the "Not Welcome" sign is up in Florida? In California? In Colorado? In Nevada? Are these economies you don't want Kansas to emulate? Are these states whose population growth is unwelcome for Kansas?

You have no proof, no examples, no statistics, no basis whatsoever to make that statement. All you have is the statement itself. You have words.

Yet on the other side, the argument against increasing CO2 emissions in Kansas has mountains of supporting evidence, and the argument that restricting the growth of CO2 emissions does not have a harmful effect on business has support in dozens of other states.

The Kansas Chamber is interested in one thing - its own existence. They are not interested in the least in creating an economic climate in Kansas that is equal to that in states like California and Florida.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 3 months ago

I think the broader point is that our state's ruling puts a big "Not Welcome" sign out for prospective businesses to see. We cannot set arbitrary CO2 emissions standards and then expect new business to feel like our government will treat them fairly.

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logicsound04 6 years, 3 months ago

Wind energy is economic growth, and it is growth that actually provides a comparative advantage to Kansas, unlike coal. Any state can find land for a coal-fired plant, but not any state can make a go at producing profitable wind energy--Kansas is one of the states that can.

If our legislators would look into providing proper incentives for wind energy investment and development, then companies would flock to Kansas, even in the early (and more expensive) stages of wind power technology development.

But no, they'd rather grandstand and get red-faced about some peceived injustice brought upon them by the all-powerful Lawrence.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

Why do legislators not recognize that wind energy,new improved hydro electric systems,solar energy,biomass etc etc is also economic growth?

Do they not understand the number of new dollars for more people that becomes available by introducing new technology is substantial?

Shouldn't legislators instead focus their energy on how to bring alternative energy firms to Kansas thus new employment?

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beobachter 6 years, 3 months ago

if it came from any chamber, at best misinformation, but probably flat out lie.

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cool 6 years, 3 months ago

the omission of information regarding what companies left for a better electric grid could just be misinformation or lies, right ?

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Reality_Check 6 years, 3 months ago

If she doesn't cite specific examples...of businesses that have rejected relocation or expansion plans during what was mostly the holiday season...then she deserves to be ignored. Including by the LJW and its reporters.

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logicsound04 6 years, 3 months ago

If there are a substantial number of businesses that have second-guessed expansion and investment because of one ruling on one plant in one industry in the state of Kansas, they are soon going to be in for a rude awakening.

Kansas is not the first state to take action regarding emission-heavy technology and other states will follow as more people begin to understand that it is a serious problem. Part of the reason Sunflower located their plant in Holcomb, KS instead of saving on the investment in power transmission lines to Colorado is because Colorado is even less emission-friendly than Kansas.

However, as has been pointed out, it sounds like this "leader" has a political agenda rather than a vested interest in determining the actual impact on commerce in the state.

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leftIsRight 6 years, 3 months ago

Would have been nice if at least one concrete instance was cited of how/where other businesses have scaled back their plans due to the coal plant decision (Westar's scaled back wind project has nothing to do with that decision). Its hard to say if the Chamber is attempting to spread unsubstantiated FUD, or if the omission is LJW reporting...

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

The population of Kansas would be delighted to have a greener healthier lifestyle to include green collar employment that does pay well. Wind energy will have a greater positive long term impact across western Kansas. Western Kansas is considered a gold mine for wind energy.

The economic impact will not be restricted to Holcomb but to many farm families throughout western Kansas who wish to participate. Royalties such that oil and natural gas produce will come from wind energy. This could benefit way more than the 160 employees in the Holcomb area. Wind energy could produce economic growth for many western Kansas communities.

Perhaps Kansas could attract wind energy firms that manufacture and distribute wind energy materials.

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marcdeveraux 6 years, 3 months ago

looks like blankenbiller wants to bring D.C. type of politics to kansas,promise more services by cutting taxes. Who thinks that will work?her idea that immigration can be controlled is silly. the only way to slow the flow of people north is to force the catholic church to change it s idea on birth control. all the money spent on border control,cops,fences,radar,etc.,will not help till the birth rate is slowed.

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bobberboy 6 years, 3 months ago

Bull ! The only pockets that it's going to hurt are the self serving republican legislators from southwest Kansas !!

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dirkleisure 6 years, 3 months ago

Exactly. She cannot name a single instance.

That is why she speaks in generalities.

Note that she says "The negative fallout from that has led many businesses to second-guess expansion, second-guess investment..."

OK, let's define "many." Is "many," in the big picture of Kansas industry, 100? Is "many" going to be defined as 10? To me, 10 would be "a few."

When she says this, she is making it up. Period. She is making up an argument to win over public opinion.

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deskboy04 6 years, 3 months ago

I am shocked that businesses want to pay less in taxes.

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Lucky 6 years, 3 months ago

Has anyone figured out what the difference in Kansas job creation would be between building the proposed coal plants and the wind farms?

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Jerry Stubbs 6 years, 3 months ago

I wonder specifically what other businesses have already "second-guessed expansion, second-guessed investment" because of this coal plant decision? Westar announced a big wind power expansion that was somewhat scaled back but not for this reason.

I hope the Kansas Chamber of Commerce didn't inherit some ex-lobbyist that thinks an ethanol plant is equivalent to a coal-fired power plant just because they both contain the word "plant". Signs of a true spin-doctor.

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