Archive for Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Discussions about coal plants continue

January 15, 2008


— Comments from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and House Speaker Melvin Neufeld raised speculation Monday about whether a deal is being worked out that would allow a coal-burning power plant in western Kansas.

When asked about whether negotiations were occurring, Sebelius said, "What is happening right now I would characterize more as conversations. There is a lot of information that I think is important for everybody to have."

She said some of that information includes projected electric needs, energy costs and environmental impact.

"It has been characterized as a very black-and-white situation. I don't think that's accurate," she said.

In October, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby rejected the two 700-megawatt plants, citing concerns about the carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. Sebelius supported the decision.

The decision unleashed a torrent of criticism from western Kansas legislators, including the state's two most powerful lawmakers, Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, and Neufeld, R-Ingalls. They saw the $3.5 billion project as a needed economic project, and they said the plants would have been among the cleanest-burning coal plants in the nation.

Many have said the Republican legislative leaders, who lead significant majorities in the House and Senate, would force a showdown with Sebelius, a Democrat, over legislation to reverse the denial.

Neufeld, and even some Democrats, have hinted that some kind of compromise could be reached to avoid a showdown during the session that started Monday.

"Legislators would be pleased and relieved if a compromise could be worked out," said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka.

But, he added, "If that's possible, I don't know."

House Democratic Leader Dennis McKinney of Greensburg said perhaps some environmental mitigation could be made to offset the effects of carbon dioxide emissions.

"That would be ideal, if we could find some common ground," he said.

McKinney said the state will miss out on a lot of economic development if the plants aren't built.

Environmentalists, however, say they want the decision to deny the plants to stand.

"I think that she (Sebelius) has gone quite out on a limb to support Bremby's decision, so I can't imagine that she would just capitulate," said Craig Volland, of the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club.

But, he added, "The Legislature is pretty powerful and is controlled by people who are angry about this, so I'm sure she is under pressure."

Not only regional western Kansas interests are lobbying for the plants. So are organized labor and other business interests.

Bob Eye, an attorney for the Sierra Club, conceded the denial of the coal plants has introduced some bare-knuckled political sparring.

"It's not a pillow fight," he said.

But, he said, KDHE and Sebelius made the right decision and should stick to it.

"If we abandon this decision, I think they'll be asking more than 'what's the matter with Kansas,' but they'll be asking 'what in the world is the matter with Kansas.'"

Under the proposal by Sunflower Electric Power Corp., most of the energy that would have been produced at the two plants would have been sold to out-of-state companies. Sebelius said she was opposed to emitting tons of C02 every year in Kansas to make power for Colorado and Texas.

Sunflower has appealed KDHE's decision to the Kansas Supreme Court.


toefungus 10 years ago

This must be discussed or the fight will spill over into other areas.

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years ago

Screw these coal plants and the coal pushers who want to destroy our environment and our kid's future. Let's get smart and use wind and solar.

TheBurf 10 years ago

I know there's allot of people in western Kansas that want them. Since its in their backyard, I say let them decide.

Its easy for us to say no when we live in a metropolitan (or close to) area that has ample opportunity for employment.

Jerry Stubbs 10 years ago

What is there to discuss? Colorado didnt want them, Texas and Oklahoma didn't want them, and the people of Kansas don't want them, according to the poll results. Arent the state representatives, elected to represent the wills of the people who elected them, willing to do their jobs?

justthefacts 10 years ago

The Sunflower pro-coal plant folks just hired Brian Moline to lead the charge in getting the KDHE ruling changed. FYI he was the Chair and/or General Counsel for the KCC (Kansas Corporation Commission) for YEARS; few people understand utility law (and its politics) better. Since he recently retired from the KCC, he was "free" to help the pro-coal folks out and fight to get a permit to build.. At least until they have to go before the KCC for rate hearings. There are two issues now being discussed: (1) Does it make environmental/ecological sense and (2) Does it make economic sense? The answers to those two questions may oppose each other. In which case, someone has to decide which is more important.

Then who decides which factor is more important; the 1. administrative agencies, 2. the courts or 3. the politicians (Legislature)? The people directly or indirectly impacted will have to rely on those three groups to decide things for them.

So if you have a personal view point either way, it's never too soon to let your voice be heard.

salad 10 years ago

" there is still the air, land & water pollution caused by CCW, coal combustion waste."

And what would that actually be? I seems you are making the assumption, cool, that there are no polluiton controls on a coal plant, or that if there are, it's ineffective. You'd be amazed at how untrue this is. There's just alot of spin on both sides of the coal vs. other generation story. I think Nuclear is the best solution BTW. Coal does have some HUGE advantages long as we like using electricity.

webmocker 10 years ago

For those who want an in-depth look at the energy options this country faces, read Winning the Oil Endgame by Amory Lovins et. al. It is a book that emerged from a study commissioned by the Pentagon, researched by a large number of energy and economic experts scattered about the political spectrum.

Nuclear sounds great, until you remember that nuclear plants generate two things that cause staggering storage and security issues: radioactive waste with nowhere to go, and enriched nuclear material potentially useful for bombmaking. Further, nuclear plants are truly frightening terrorist targets. Decentralizing energy generation is more secure as it's more difficult to blow up every house with solar panels on the roof, or every small cogeneration facility spread throughout an area. And if none of those arguments work for you, it's also more expensive than other energy solutions. Why pay more than we have to for energy, while making ourselves less secure in the process?

salad 10 years ago

I agree that decentralized energy is the best solution. The problem with that is that Americans are too lazy and cheap to do it on their own. They have to be forced into it. Spent nuclear fuel doesn't have to be stored, it can be recycled to make more fuel. It's expensive because there's no infrastructure in place, but it's do-able. The terrorist angle is simply fear-mongering, and would be extremely difficult to achieve anything substantive if you know anything about the control and safety systems on these plants. Nuclear plants are pretty darn expensive to build, but the fuel is the cheapest per BTU generated available at around $0.75/10,000 BTU. In many ways, nuclear is cheaper than anyother energy solution. In some ways it is more expensive. I think I've heard good things about the oil end game book

lounger 10 years ago

"I know there's allot of people in western Kansas that want them. Since its in their backyard, I say let them decide..."

What a silly thing to say The Burf! All the acid rain would fall on us! Just ask people in states Like Maine who take the brunt of mercury poisoning from the coal plants up and down the east coast. Bald eagles on the penobscot river eat contaminated fish and then die. I would hate to see this in our neck of the woods and believe me our air would suffer horribly from these plants. So think about it next time you post something like this please.

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