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Archive for Saturday, March 8, 2008

Capitol thoughts from State Senator Roger Pine

March 8, 2008

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The Energy Bill came to the Senate floor this week in the form of a conference committee report that ultimately passed the House on a vote of 75 - 47; 84 House votes will be required to override an expected governor's veto. The Senate passed the measure 31 - 7, a comfortable margin over the 27 Senate votes needed to override a veto. The bill now goes to the Governor who has 10 days to veto it.

The bill creates a renewable resources requirement for electric utilities to encourage greater development and use of wind, solar and other environmentally friendly energy sources, and requires certain electric generation facilities to begin CO2 capture or reduction technologies. A key provision requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to grant the construction permit of the Holcomb Sunflower Energy Plant unless the permit is found to violate current law. It would allow the KDHE Secretary to hold future permit applications to stricter standards than those established by the federal government if those stricter standards have been approved by the legislature. Neither the federal government nor the state of Kansas currently has a standard set on CO2 emissions.

Whether or not you approve of a new coal-fired plant anywhere in Kansas, it is important to remember the proposed plant expansion at Holcomb would operate under the most restrictive air quality permit of any plant in the country; it would be far more efficient than existing plants, allowing older, dirtier coal plants to be taken offline; the new plant would encourage greater investment in transmission lines which are critical to the development and expansion of wind energy, and it would keep the $3.6 billion dollar project with its jobs and tax benefits here in the state.

Just out of curiosity, I asked Westar officials what would happen to the cost of electricity if we converted the coal-fired facility near Lawrence back to natural gas. Their response was that electric bills would increase dramatically - 4 x higher - because natural gas is much more expensive than coal (i.e. if an average bill was $100/mo with the coal-fired plant, it could increase to $400/mo if the switch was made to natural gas). Natural gas also emits CO2. Certainly wind, solar, nuclear, bio-fuels and natural gas will all play key roles in our energy future. But for baseload energy at a cost virtually all can afford, we would be shirking our responsibilities if we ignored the use of coal.

It is interesting to note that other states have found coal-based resources appropriate for meeting their base-load energy requirements. Currently, 33 coal-based units are under construction across the country, including eight plants in four states surrounding Kansas: 3 in Colorado, 2 in Nebraska, 2 in Missouri, and 1 in Arkansas. Construction in other Midwestern states include: 2 in Iowa, 4 in Illinois and 6 in Texas.

The bill also establishes energy efficiency standards for state buildings, enacts the Net Metering and Easy Connection Act, provides tax incentives for energy efficiency improvements in residential rental properties, and establishes the Kansas Electric Generation Science and Technology Commission.

Finally, the Senate came out forcefully in support of Boeing upon hearing the news that the U.S. Air Force had awarded to French manufacturer Airbus a $40 billion contract to build the next generation of air refueling tankers. Boeing has built tankers for the Air Force for more than 50 years. We unanimously passed a strong resolution calling upon the President and Congress to halt the process and reconsider the decision.

If you are interested in further information on these or any other issue, please do not hesitate to contact me: 785.296.7372 or by email at Pine@senate.state.ks.us

Comments

toefungus 6 years, 1 month ago

Thank you for looking out for me Senator. My energy bills are high and I cannot afford higher. I support conservation and population reductions to reduce global warming as 3 billion fewer people on earth is the only way to sustain the planet. Not cleaner energy that supports even more growth of population. Down with people pollution! The Condom may be the best CO2 reduction plan.

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ChristmasCarol 6 years, 1 month ago

There have been over $2 billion in monies spent keeping up what we spend our money on for renewable resources where as in comparison if we found wind or solar feasible we would only have to maintain equipment and produce more equipment not fuel.

Think, we would only manufacture equipment and clean it. Do you think Solar or wind equipment clean better than coal.

Okay so we have not proven that either will work and we are not lucky to have HOover dam nearby.

What then... do you ask yourselves?

When do we run out of coal?
Any other reasons.

A pie graph shows that by 2025 our born will be the age to draft... will our renewable resources then last that and longer or should we develop technologies in other directions?

that is up to you...

Party down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Party like there is no tomorrow, Boyezzzzzz!!!!!

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seriouscat 6 years, 1 month ago

It is interesting to note that other states have found coal-based resources appropriate for meeting their base-load energy requirements. Currently, 33 coal-based units are under construction across the country, including eight plants in four states surrounding Kansas: 3 in Colorado, 2 in Nebraska, 2 in Missouri, and 1 in Arkansas. Construction in other Midwestern states include: 2 in Iowa, 4 in Illinois and 6 in Texas.

Shareholder-owned utilities canceled 3,702 megawatts of new generation projects in the third quarter of 2007, 82 percent of them coal-fired, according to the Edison Electric Institute. Although power plants' construction plans are frequently shelved, it was an unusually high amount of coal-fired project cancellations.

Just out of curiosity, I asked Westar officials what would happen to the cost of electricity if we converted the coal-fired facility near Lawrence back to natural gas. Their response was that electric bills would increase dramatically - 4 x higher - because natural gas is much more expensive than coal (i.e. if an average bill was $100/mo with the coal-fired plant, it could increase to $400/mo if the switch was made to natural gas). Natural gas also emits CO2. Certainly wind, solar, nuclear, bio-fuels and natural gas will all play key roles in our energy future. But for baseload energy at a cost virtually all can afford, we would be shirking our responsibilities if we ignored the use of coal.

Fact: Two of the three new boilers at Holcomb will supply power to Colorado, not Kansas. The need for this new power is not proven, but instead depends on future growth in demand for electricity that could be satisfied by the development of alternative energy resources. Burning coal will become very expensive when Congress begins to regulate carbon dioxide.

Not curiosity, but fishing for easy answers. Not good enough Mr. Pine. Supporting these plants is a big mistake for you, your fellow coal friendly legislators and money makers, and for Kansas. Please stop.

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seriouscat 6 years, 1 month ago

Furthermore the huge coal plants proposed for Kansas are using an older technology that makes capture of the carbon dioxide greenhouse gases impractical, and we will be stuck with them for 50-75 years. In addition the potential exists to greatly increase the amount of mercury put into the air in Kansas.

The Holcomb coal burning complex would be the largest west of the Mississippi River. Under EPA's new Mercury Rule, Sunflower can choose to buy credits from other utilities when these plants start up instead of capturing the mercury. This would cause mercury emissions from Kansas coal plants to increase about 60% over current levels. Since most mercury falls out in rain, much of this mercury will travel to eastern, especially northeastern Kansas and points beyond, adding to already high levels in water bodies and fish. The USEPA recently stated that one in six women of childbearing age in the US already has blood mercury levels that could be harmful to a fetus.

Sorry, but that doesn't sound very encouraging to me.

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seriouscat 6 years, 1 month ago

A key provision requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to grant the construction permit of the Holcomb Sunflower Energy Plant unless the permit is found to violate current law.

By a 2 to 1 margin Kansas voters agreed with the KDHE decision to block the coal powered plants. Why are legislators such as yourself, Mr. Pine, trying to silence a decision that the majority of your constituents agree with?

Whether or not you approve of a new coal-fired plant anywhere in Kansas, it is important to remember the proposed plant expansion at Holcomb would operate under the most restrictive air quality permit of any plant in the country; it would be far more efficient than existing plants, allowing older, dirtier coal plants to be taken offline; the new plant would encourage greater investment in transmission lines which are critical to the development and expansion of wind energy, and it would keep the $3.6 billion dollar project with its jobs and tax benefits here in the state.

In addition to the 2-1 margin in support of the KDHE decision mentioned above, 48% of people polled agreed with this statement "The way we create and use energy is no longer simply an economic question; it is a moral issue involving the well-being of our children and generations to come". Seems pretty clear to me that Kansans want sensible, forward thinking energy policy, not lip service and BS that still dumps more pollution and waste into our environment.

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Logan5 6 years, 1 month ago

"The bill creates a renewable resources requirement for electric utilities to encourage greater development and use of wind, solar and other environmentally friendly energy sources, and requires certain electric generation facilities to begin CO2 capture or reduction technologies."

"The bill also establishes energy efficiency standards for state buildings, enacts the Net Metering and Easy Connection Act, provides tax incentives for energy efficiency improvements in residential rental properties, and establishes the Kansas Electric Generation Science and Technology Commission."

The question I would like to ask Mr. Pine is, none of these vital measures were included in the first version of the bill, which you also supported. Now you are justifying your vote because of these measures. So what was your motivation for supporting the bill the first time around?

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Since when has corporate america and politicians been honest when special interest money is involved.... no different in Topeka,Kansas.

Coal

The U.S. continues to subsidize coal power plants without regard to the total economic costs paid by taxpayers. Eliminating government support for coal power is a common sense idea that saves taxpayer money and makes the government more efficient.

Cutting the Clean Coal Technology Program, which has consistently failed in the past decade to produce any results, would save taxpayers at least $250 million per year. Reforming a tax loophole that allows individual owners to pay a lower rate on capital gains from coal royalties would generate an additional $15 million in revenue that could help balance the federal budget.

One especially wasteful tax credit that should be eliminated is the Non-Conventional Fuel Production Credit, commonly known as the "synfuel" credit. The program's intended purpose was to reduce dependence on oil, but it has instead become a farce. Superficial changes to coal, such as spraying on substances like diesel and starch, outrageously qualify them as "non-conventional," allowing coal companies to avoid paying $1.3 billion in taxes per year.

Coal Subsidies: $9,000,000,000(Billion) http://www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_nuclear/electricity/energybill/2005/articles.cfm?ID=13980

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Our local sources of which energy can be drawn are wind,sun,water and land that which can produce switch grass. Farmland for switchgrass does not need to prime farm land.

Tony Brown

Feds Suspending Major Loan Program for New Coal Plants

The federal government is suspending a major loan program for coal-fired power plants in rural communities, saying the uncertainties of climate change and rising construction costs make the loans too risky. After issuing $1.3 billion in loans for new plant construction since 2001, none will be issued this year and likely none in 2009, James Newby, assistant administrator for the Rural Utilities Service, a branch of the Department of Agriculture, said Tuesday.The program's suspension marks a dramatic reversal of a once-reliable source of new coal plant financing. It follows the announcement last month that several major banks will require plant developers to factor in climate change when seeking private funding. 'This is a big decision. It says new coal plants can't go to the federal government for money at least for the next couple years, and these are critical times for companies to get these plants built,' said Abigail Dillen with the environmental law group Earthjustice. T he group filed a federal lawsuit last year seeking to block the loan program. At the time of the suspension, at least four utilities had been lined up for loans totaling $1.3 billion -- for projects in Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri. A project in Montana was denied funding last month. Two more were recently withdrawn: last October in Wyoming and earlier this week in Missouri. Newby said material and labor costs for new coal plants have been rising 30 percent a year, even as utilities struggle to pinpoint future costs of controlling greenhouse gas emissions. The 2 billion tons of those gases produced annually by coal-fired plants in the United States exceed the emissions of any other source.

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ChristmasCarol 6 years, 1 month ago

Somebody mention fuel for the fire?

I watch that coal come in everyday almost on the train as I run the levee and...

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northtown 6 years, 1 month ago

Write him today-Tell him what you want ,he does not listen or understand!!!!!!!!!! Today!!!!! Fil his in box today!!!!

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