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Archive for Thursday, January 31, 2008

Coal plant bill was crafted in secret

January 31, 2008

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Bills would allow coal plants, limit CO2

Kansas legislators introduced bills on Wednesday to set the state's first limits on carbon dioxide emissions, but allow two coal-fired power plants to be built in western Kansas. Enlarge video

— Bills addressing the top environmental issue of the legislative session were written in secret by those who support construction of two coal-burning power plants in western Kansas.

Tom Thompson, a lobbyist with the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club, which opposes the plants, said he didn't think that was right.

"Obviously, it was not an open process," Thompson said.

House Bill 2711 and Senate Bill 515 essentially would allow the two 700-megawatt plants to be built, even though permits for the plants were rejected last year by Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby. The legislation was filed Wednesday, and public hearings on the bill will be next week.

The four legislators involved in drafting the bill were state Rep. Carl Holmes, R-Liberal, chairman of the House Energy and Utilities Committee; state Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg, chairman of the Senate Utilities Committee; state Rep. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka, the ranking minority member of the House committee; and state Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington, ranking minority member of the Senate committee.

"The four of us have worked on this off and on since November," Emler said.

The four also are members of the seven-member Kansas Electric Transmission Authority.

Under the state open meetings law, meetings with a majority of a quorum of a public board must be public. A quorum on the Transmission Authority is four members and a majority of a quorum is three members. But Emler said public notice wasn't necessary because the officials weren't working on KETA business.

Emler and other supporters of the new legislation described it as a groundbreaking compromise that would limit carbon dioxide emissions. They said they gave in a lot to environmentalists on several issues.

But Thompson asked how it could be a compromise when environmentalists weren't invited to the table.

Emler and Lee said the plants' developers, Sunflower Electric Power Corp., had input into the legislation. Emler said although environmentalists weren't part of the team working on the bills, their input was part of the process through the work and research of legislative staff.

Comments

Ralph Reed 6 years, 11 months ago

Without having read the proposed legisIation, this article (and others preceding it on the same subject) shows me two examples of things in our society. First, this shows me again how many of our legislators are controlled by business. Especially in this case when the four who drafted the legislation sit on the KETA advisory board. Second, it's a mark against our society as a small group of people are willing to take a short term benefit for themselves while creating a long term harm for the majority of us.


Would someone please post a link to the legislation?


I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonimity?

staff04 6 years, 11 months ago

Big deal...very seldom do outsiders have input in the original introduction of a bill. That's why we have amendment and debate procedures.

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

"First, this shows me again how many of our legislators are controlled by business."

You mean legislators who are supposed be honest and watch out for the best interests of society, may have been "bought"?

Likewise, does anyone think it could be possible that scientists, some who also get government money, could also be "bought"?

Do you think the common denominator is that they are both, people?

georgeofwesternkansas 6 years, 11 months ago

The only thing this bill missed was forcing Lawrence to clean up the 7th most poluting coal plant/per kw in the nation that is on the north edge of town.

If Lawrence was forced to be at the same level that Sunflower is already at there would be no discussion on the issue.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

The only bill we need is a tax on CO2 emissions for all power plants and any other major producer of CO2 in the state. That tax should be a hefty one that gradually increases over time, and is offset by reductions in property, sales and business taxes. If Sunflower still wants to build their plants knowing that they'll be taxed for the CO2 they produce, then let them.

Could you agree to that, warmer?

georgeofwesternkansas 6 years, 11 months ago

What, they did not go to the public bill writing place to write this draft?? We should call their parents and tell on them.

Now if this bill were passed with a secret vote then there would be a problem. I am not aware of any participation requirements for drafting legislation.

This article was written at the behest of the sierra club who also uses electricity from the 7th most poluting/per kwh coal plant in the USA and has not demanded or mounted any effort to clean up or close its dirty power source.

Does sierra of kansas currently purchase carbon credits to offset its use of dirty coal??

lounger 6 years, 11 months ago

Lets take back the capital! Storm in and throw the dictators out! Our governor will be spared but the lions share of the ones who Ignore the wishes of the people of Kansas (Who say NO to these polluting, nasty plants) will be out in the cold. Im not kidding! How else can we be heard and represented in this state?? NO means NO! What is so hard to understand about that?

BigDog 6 years, 11 months ago

This is a crap article, Scott Rothchild has been around the Capitol enough to know that developing and drafting legislation is not a public process.

He purely has an agenda with this article. The hearings for legislation are public, but the legislation is usually developed by a group or individual who would like a bill introduced. Every year hundreds of bill are introduced, some pass, some get a hearing and go no further, and some don't even get a hearing.

I was never asked for input on the designating a state fish legislation.

Scott could contact his senator or repesentative and ask that they introduce a piece of legislation opposing the power plants.

BigDog 6 years, 11 months ago

Merrill,

I guess as you see it there is a "secret group" for each piece of legislation that is not drafted with everyone's input.

I would say then about 90% of legislation is crafted by a "secret group"

Sigmund 6 years, 11 months ago

The Ecomentalist agenda is to kill the economy of the developed world, or at least according to Bill Clinton. http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=4221285

But of course the Former President doesn't believe the 911 conspiracy fruit cakes either. http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=4221699

Never thought I would praise Bill "depends on what the meaning of is, is" Clinton for his candor and truthfulness, but there you go. Not that it will persuade the clowns in this town.

BigDog 6 years, 11 months ago

that's true .... committees craft a few

nobody1793 6 years, 11 months ago

Can you imagine George Washington having to hold a public forum before deciding to cross the Delaware? You don't think there were business intereests and back-room deals cut when the constitution itself was crafted? Jefferson and Hamilton never had sex scandals? Nothing is new under the sun.

Sigmund 6 years, 11 months ago

Decommissioning a fixed number of power plants that haven't reached end of life and then building new ones to replace them (not to mention the new plants needed for new demand) will send the cost of power through the roof. Once the cost to consumers is fully explained this idea will be soundly reject, especially in an economy that is barely growing.

ASBESTOS 6 years, 11 months ago

You mean crafted secretly like the Comprehensive Immigration giveaway bill?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

"And although I have asked you numerous times in the past, you have never once articulated where the plan would come from nor what policies would be federal vs state."

Of course, it needs to be a national, even international plan. But if the state is going to pass a law, pass one that's going to have a positive effect in reducing greenhouse gases, at least those produced in this state, not just a political payback from bought-off politicians.

"If you really want to discuss options, you need to be forthright."

You've never wanted a discussion. All you've ever wanted to do was whine about how "unfair" elitist easterners are to the poor downtrodden westerners. Waaaa!!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

Pure magnanimous posturing, warmer. I called you on your pointless whining, and ever since you've made it a point to carry out a silly little virtual vendetta against me on this forum, expecting me to come up with some comprehensive plan (as if one individual will ever be able to implement such) while simultaneously offering nothing but stupid ideas that can and never will be implemented.

jhawks22 6 years, 11 months ago

New CO2 Emissions Regulation: Everyone stop breathing.

--Then we can have all the glorious coal plants we want--

dirkleisure 6 years, 11 months ago

"The only thing this bill missed was forcing Lawrence to clean up the 7th most poluting coal plant/per kw in the nation that is on the north edge of town."


Westar owns that plant, not Lawrence. Much like Sunflower owns the Holcomb plant, not Holcomb. I do not believe there is any language in the bill requiring Holcomb to "clean up" the current Sunflower plant or be responsible for the carbon tax on the new one.

Also, the point of this article is not that this particular bill was written in secret while other bills are not. The point is that the proponents of the bill, particularly Sen. Jay Emler, presented it to the media as a "compromise" bill. It was the presentation of the bill as one that had been worked on by many parties that predicated this article.

The news is not that the bill was crafted in secret. The news is that the drafters tried to present it to the media as if it had been crated by several groups working together.

georgeofwesternkansas 6 years, 11 months ago

The current Sunflower plant ranks 11th of 17 clean burning plants in Kansas. The only cleaner plants in Kansas are newer. The plant at Holcomb has been scrubbibg its emitions since it was built in the 70's. Westar is just now prepairing to start scrubbing at Jeffery with no plans to do it at Lawrence.

And the owners of Sunflower are the residents and members of the six Electric Cooperatives in Western Kansas. Sunflower is a Cooperative owned and operated by the residents of Western Kansas. No out of state owners, no jets, no over paid ceo, cfo. If you doubt this, look them up on the stock exchange, they are not there, they are not for sale. The air is currently clean in western kansas, and it is not in Lawrence.

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

George, when your state the statistic that the current Sunflower plant ranks 11th of 17 clean burning plants in Kansas-you are partially correct. Except we can no longer use the old definition (SOX, NOX, mercury, fine particulates). In April the SCOTUS ruled that CO2 is a pollutant. The old definitions/claims have to be recalibrated based on this new case law.
This is a key to the rebellion we see against Holcomb. It is adding significant tonnage of CO2 to the atmosphere. Not to sound like a broken record but a new coal plant in eastern Kansas would face the same type of resistance. BPU and Westar were supposedly warned that the knives would be drawn for them as well.
Again, like it or not, CO2 becoming a pollutant under federal law is a paradigm shift we will be grappling with for years.

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

George, your idea of decommsioning the 10 or whatever dirtiest coal plants in the USA each year is not a bad idea on paper. The implementation would have to be somewhat different than you suggest and the definition of dirtiest would probably be changed somewhat. CO2 will be the new definition of "dirty" thanks to SCOTUS-that we can take to the bank. The easiest way to decommision them is to make them economically a dead weight. A cap and trade system will do that (how big, how quickly, how much......who knows at this point), but this should become law in 2009 at the latest. This will shutter a chunk of these ol' clunkers quickly or force them to burn bio-mass.
So, George's idea will happen in a mildly different form. Will it close LEC-too early to tell. I am sure the residents of Lawrence, who have no control over Westar's decision would breathe easier........

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

George, your idea of decommissioning the 10 or whatever dirtiest coal plants in the USA each year is not a bad idea on paper. The implementation would have to be somewhat different than you suggest and the definition of dirtiest would probably be changed somewhat. CO2 will be the new definition of "dirty" thanks to SCOTUS-that we can take to the bank. The easiest way to decommision them is to make them economically a dead weight. A cap and trade system will do that (how big, how quickly, how much......who knows at this point), but this should become law in 2009 at the latest. This will shutter a chunk of these ol' clunkers quickly or force them to burn bio-mass.
So, George's idea will happen in a mildly different form. Will it close LEC-too early to tell. I am sure the residents of Lawrence, who have no control over Westar's decision would breathe easier........

Ralph Reed 6 years, 11 months ago

To its_getting_warmer.

Thanks, I got the bill. I'll reserve further comment until I read it.


I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonymity?

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

Sorry, It's getting warmer, I gave George credit for your thought on the decommissioning. Mea culpa.

Bill Griffith 6 years, 10 months ago

Sigmund, I am afraid your assumption of a sound rejection of the idea of decommissioning old power plants and replacing them is flawed. First, the replacement power does not necessarily have to be a new coal plant. A new coal plant costs roughly 7.5 cents per kWh wholesale. Energy Efficiency programs using best practices costs between 2 and 3 cents per Kwh wholesale. While customers may see a rate increase due to this investment (or any investment), they will save money on their bills due to using less power. Also windpower with a small amount of gas-fired backup comes in around 5-6 cents per Kwh, which is cheaper than a new coal plant. Would there be a rate increase? Yes, but not as much as a new coal plant and the fuel cost will be locked in for at least twenty years.
The idea of rejecting this notion of decommissioning will not happen because of climate policy changes that will be happening by the summer of 2009 in the United States. It will make the old plants non economical and force the industry to move more quickly into a carbon constrained world.

situveux1 6 years, 10 months ago

Very interesting.

I guess I missed the article the LJW printed when the state owned gambling bill was crafted behind closed doors.

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