Kansas group appointed to look at climate change

? A new group will soon tackle the politically charged issue of reducing climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions in Kansas.

“Experts agree that Congress will institute a carbon tax in the coming years,” Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said. “By taking steps to prepare now, we better position our state for potential costs in the future.”

Sebelius has appointed 20 members to the Kansas Energy and Environmental Policy Advisory Group, including industry and scientific leaders. The group will have its first meeting May 20 in Wichita.

The Kansas Legislature has just ended its session after a bruising battle over a proposal to build two 700-megawatt coal-fired power plants in western Kansas.

Sebelius opposes the project because of the plants’ annual emission of 11 million tons of carbon dioxide.

The new group will produce an inventory and forecast of greenhouse gas emissions in Kansas; recommend a plan to reduce emissions; and produce a preliminary report by the start of the 2009 legislative session in January.

Jack Pelton, president and chief executive officer of Cessna Aircraft in Wichita, will lead the group, called KEEP for short. KEEP will work with the Center for Climate Strategies, a Pennsylvania consulting firm, to develop a climate plan for Kansas.

“I am confident that the combined expertise of this group will lead to innovative solutions across all sectors of Kansas industry which helps every corner of our state,” Sebelius said.

Appointed to the group are: Steven Baccus, Kansas Farm Bureau president; Amy Blankenbiller, Kansas Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer; Jim Boone, NorthStar Comfort Systems Inc. president; David Braaten, Kansas University geography professor; Casey Cassius, Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell Architects architect; Yvonne Cather, Kansas Sierra Club Council delegate; Patty Clark, Kansas Leadership Center director of operations; Johannes Feddema, Kansas University geography professor; Ashok Gupta, Natural Resources Defense Council director of air and energy program; Colin Hansen, Kansas Municipal Utilities executive director; Nancy Jackson, Land Institute Climate and Energy Project director; Mike Kelley, YRC Worldwide vice president; Mark Knight, owner of Knight Feedlots; State Rep. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka; Stuart Lowry, Kansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. executive vice president; William Moore, Westar Energy president and chief executive officer; Emil Ramirez, United Steel Workers District 11 assistant director; Charles Rice, Kansas State University agronomy professor; Bruce Snead, Kansas State University engineering extension program specialist; John Wong, Wichita State University Urban and Public Affairs interim director.

In addition, several state government officials will serve as ex-officio members: Rod Bremby, secretary of the Department of Health and Environment; Ken Frahm, Kansas Energy Council co-chair; Mike Hayden, secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Parks; David Kerr, secretary of the Department of Commerce; Deb Miller, secretary of the Department of Transportation; Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson; Adrian Polansky, secretary of the Department of Agriculture; Tracy Streeter, Kansas Water Office executive director; and Tom Wright, Kansas Corporation Commission chairman.