To the editor:
Responding to the governor's recent veto, Sen. Steve Morris asserted that "not allowing clean coal technology to be part of Kansas' energy future will result in a devastating increase in the average Kansan's electric bill." He is right that a future without coal will be expensive. Here's the thing: A future with coal will be expensive, too.
Coal is no longer cheap. Just this month, for example, we learned that Peabody Coal shipped more coal to China in the first six weeks of this year than in all of 2007. Merrill Lynch announced its forecast that coal prices would jump by 200 percent this calendar year. Meanwhile, commodity prices for the materials that go into all power plants (copper, steel, cement) have increased by 25 percent to 400 percent since 2003. A price on carbon dioxide emissions will add costs, as will technology to reduce or eliminate those emissions.
Don't get me wrong. The alternatives aren't cheap either. Wind, natural gas, nuclear, solar - they're all more expensive. In a global marketplace with rapidly developing economies, competition for finite resources is stiff and may grow fierce.
The question now is: what impact profile (pollution, water requirements, national security issues, wildlife and viewshed concerns, global warming) do we choose with our new, more expensive electricity? The answers to that question will determine whether future generations - our children and their children - will thank us or curse us.