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Archive for Thursday, May 22, 2008

Coal battle moves to court

May 22, 2008

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— House Speaker Melvin Neufeld on Wednesday declared there would be no attempt to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto of legislation that would have authorized construction of two coal-fired power plants.

The announcement by Neufeld, R-Ingalls, essentially ends legislative action on the most fiercely debated issue of the 2008 session and moves the battle over the two 700-megawatt plants to the courts.

Sebelius, who vetoed three bills dealing with the plants in southwest Kansas, said she hoped the state could now move toward developing a comprehensive energy policy.

"I am pleased that we can close this contentious chapter of our debate on energy policy, and begin to work collaboratively on a comprehensive plan that provides for the power needed to continue to grow our economy, while protecting our environment and maximizing our alternative energy potential," Sebelius said in a statement.

Sebelius has opposed the plants, citing concerns about the project's annual 11 million tons of CO2 emissions to produce electricity, most of which was headed out of state. She also opposed legislative attempts to strip key authority from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in permitting new power plants.

But the project enjoyed widespread support in the Legislature - although it fell just short in the House of getting the required two-thirds majority to overturn Sebelius' veto.

On Wednesday, Neufeld said scheduling conflicts and other circumstances, which he didn't specify, made it impossible to try to muster a veto override when lawmakers officially end the session on May 29.

The project was proposed by Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to expand its operation near Holcomb. Two out-of-state partners would have owned most of the electricity.

Earl Watkins, president and chief executive officer of Sunflower Electric, said the company would continue legal action - seeking reversal of the original permit denial by KDHE Secretary Roderick Bremby.

Supporters of the plants allege Bremby's denial was improper because the project complied with state environmental regulations, there are no state or federal CO2 regulations, and the proposed plants would have emitted less CO2 than other coal-burning plants in the state.

Comments

hornhunter 5 years, 10 months ago

dirk, I am laughing because you really don't see what they are trying to do. Please go ahead and explain how the grid works , Mr. Wizard!

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professormarvel 5 years, 10 months ago

But I have never seen a concern about global oxygen levels (outside of oceanic) ever mentioned by him. Or by anyone else, for that matter. Except for a local letter writer of some imagination.

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professormarvel 5 years, 10 months ago

acoupstick, I totally agree with your interpretation. Dyson to me sounds like he believes there are other, more significant challenges & threats to our planet, including social, educational, socioeconomic, medical, etc. than climate change.I can not recall any specific quotes as to ocean levels, but presume he thinks that the catastrophic changes some predict are simply overstated. He is not concerned one whit about glacial retreat, and specifically scorns the "polar bear alarm" shtick as political theatre. He seems to have great confidence in our ability to overcome. He thinks the whole "problem with fossil fuels" could disappear within 50 years. One suggestion of his involves the genetic manipulation of plants (trees) to produce liquid fuels which could replace fossil fuels.

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acoupstick 5 years, 10 months ago

"he is also not concerned with anthropogenic climate warming as it is being currently discussed by many."My interpretation is that he thinks that localized climate change caused by global warming is a potential problem, but that we should focus our efforts on addressing "(p)overty, infectious diseases, public education and public health."My use of the word "drastic" is, indeed, inconsistent with his views."The warming mainly occurs where air is cold and dry, mainly in the arctic rather than in the tropics, mainly in winter rather than in summer, and mainly at night rather than in daytime. The warming is real, but it is mostly making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter. To represent this local warming by a global average is misleading..."I am not familiar enough with Dyson's writings to know his views of ice-cap melting and rising ocean levels, but given this quote, it seems he is acknowledging the possibility. I would like to know what he thinks of the prospect of sea level rise.

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professormarvel 5 years, 10 months ago

To Bozo:I have provided Dyson quotes which are sourced. You have not. I have accurately quoted Dyson. You say he "has changed his mind" and is now only "just one rather lonely opinion."I stand by my characterization.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

"I make a call of lack of intellectual integrity."No, you merely demonstrate it.

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professormarvel 5 years, 10 months ago

acoupstick: You state Dyson correctly, but he is also not concerned with anthropogenic climate warming as it is being currently discussed by many. Anyone who cites him otherwise is simply wrong or lying.And I would quibble on your use of the word "drastic" as in "drastic climate change." I don't think his writings suggest he would use that adjective as being descriptive. And despite Bozo's suggestion, I do not believe Dyson has 'changed' his position relative to these issues. He was writing about them long before most others.

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professormarvel 5 years, 10 months ago

And Cool is even worse. He makes up an intellectual lie. Then writes a letter to the editor espousing it. Then quotes it back to us thinking that his letter now has greater gravitas.He constructs out of thin air a proposition that Mr. Dyson simply has never said: that the world should be concerned about O2 depletion. Although Dyson and others have written about the impacts of declining oceanic O2 levels, Cool takes this and makes up a greater thesis that is simply not of concern. A "Chicken Little" argument in essence.He writing is more than just lacking in intellectual integrity.

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professormarvel 5 years, 10 months ago

Please provide citations or source for any of these interviews. I simply do not believe it. Nor is your suggestion generally believable. Mr. Dyson is apparently an expert to be cited when Cool and Bozo want to use him to support their positions, but now he is "just one rather lonely opinion." I make a call of lack of intellectual integrity.

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acoupstick 5 years, 10 months ago

Freeman Dyson is theoretical physicist that disputes the politicization of global warming as well as the predictive ability of climate models that fail to accurately model cloud formation and activity.He does NOT dispute the rise of CO2 concentration due to anthropogenic sources, the potential for increased CO2 to cause drastic climate change, or the potential importance of carbon sequestration by plants.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

I have seen interviews where Dyson concedes that global warming is likely happening, and could present serious problems. Apparently, according to the quotes you select, he has changed his mind. But that's just one rather lonely opinion-- there are others, including this rebuttal to his most recent statements.http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/anderson07/anderson07_index.html

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professormarvel 5 years, 10 months ago

cool (Anonymous) says:climate change, letter to the LJW, posted multiple places, quoting Freeman Dyson.Will Cool please furnish information showing to this forum that Freeman Dyson believes that climate change is a threat?Will Cool please furnish information showing to this forum that Freeman Dyson is concerned about (non-oceanic) Oxygen depletion?

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professormarvel 5 years, 10 months ago

Bozo: [on Freeman Dyson] "he readily concedes that it is possibly a very serious problem"Will Bozo please furnish information showing to this forum that Freeman Dyson believes climate change is a serious threat?

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beccadog 5 years, 10 months ago

What does Kansas lose by eliminating construction of coal-fired power plants? In addition to greater global warming emissions, Kansasans will have less arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury all of which are toxic heavy metals which increase disease in people and animals from contaminating their air, soils, waters, fish, agriculture, livestock, wildlife, children and other family members. Coal is not clean, contrary to the propaganda of the coal industry. Coal releases the poisonous metals when burned or when the stored coal runs off into waters. And, that's not all. Other than burning garbage as a fuel, coal is the highest known source of mercury in the environment. The greatest single source of methylmercury (formed when mercury reacts with bacteria) is in fish. Mercury is suspected as causing autism in children, is a known brain and nervous system toxin and a known to cause developmental disorders in the unborn fetus.Arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury are all known hormone disruptors in all animals and in all humans with the fetus at greatest risk. But, that's not all.When coal is burned cancer causing chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are released into the air, soils, water, and build up in animals and people.Giving up a toxic fuel is not a bad thing to do. I congratulate the governor's foresight.Kansas can use clean energy, such as solar, wind, and biomass. If it builds renewable power facilities, it will jump into the 21 century with Europe. That's not a bad way to go.

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notajayhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Puggy (Anonymous) says: "Does anyone really know what a "Clean" Coal Burning Plant is?"I think you'll find, if you re-read the story, that the basis of the upcoming lawsuit is nobody knows what a 'dirty' one is, either, since there are no standards. And for better or worse, they have a point.But our dear governor has made it plain she doesn't let her pretty little Vogue-coiffed head be bothered by such mundane things such as numbers. She also just vetoed a bill requiring voters to show ID's on the basis that it would disenfranchise some voting groups, despite the fact that there are no numbers demonstrating any such thing. And she signed into law a bill requiring drug testing following a car accident despite the fact that the bill in question contains no numbers defining a level of impairment for a concentration of any drug other than alcohol.Numbers? We don't need no stinking numbers. Must be a women's intuition thing.

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dirkleisure 5 years, 10 months ago

hornhunter, are you having a laugh?So if Sunflower wants to build a new coal fired plant in western Kansas, then that's eco devo.If Westar wants to invest over $500 million in state of the art transmission lines, that's a boondoggle?Oh, and I love the BS argument you always throw out about "the grid." Only a select few understand "the grid," thank heavens one of them is posting here. What a fallacy.

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professormarvel 5 years, 10 months ago

More of Freeman Dyson interview on climate change:Q: Can you give an example [of things being said about climate change which misconstrue the science]?"A polar bear sitting on a melting piece of ice. The poor bear is going to drown, and it's a tear-jerker. But in fact, the bears are doing very well. The numbers of bears in the Arctic are increasing rather than decreasing. On the whole, they like it to be warm."Just because you see pictures of glaciers falling into the ocean doesn't mean anything bad is happening. This is something that happens all the time. It's part of the natural cycle of things. We know from measurements that glaciers have been melting for 200 years at least. So it's certainly long before human activities could have caused it."What we also know, going back 4,000 years, is that the glaciers were actually a lot smaller. They actually grew in the meantime. So it seems to be some sort of cyclical process. They grow and shrink and there's no particular reason for being worried just because they're shrinking at the moment. I'm not saying there's no climate change. Of course there's climate change. Climate change is part of the normal order of things, and we know it was happening before humans came. There is also human-induced climate change. That's certainly happening too. But I don't think there's reason for worrying about it."Q: So climate change has been politicized?"There is this very strong organization, the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It's a group of officially anointed experts who produce statements every five years. This community of people is regarded as sacrosanct. And they're very intolerant. They always regard any criticism as a hostile act that has to be fought. I think they have behaved pretty badly" . . .

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professormarvel 5 years, 10 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says:"professormarvel- Notice that Dyson didn't say that global warming isn't a problem. As a matter of fact, he readily concedes that it is possibly a very serious problem" ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Wrongo Bozo:"We have no reason to think that climate change is harmful if you look at the world as a whole. Most places, in fact, are better off being warmer than being colder. . . . The fact that the climate is getting warmer doesn't scare me at all. There's no reason why one should be scared." -Freeman Dyson. September 29, 2007. Salon magazine.

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hornhunter 5 years, 10 months ago

dirkleisure (Anonymous) says: MXO, you mean the big companies like Westar, which is investing over $500 million in new transmission lines to get additional power on the grid?No dirk, you a completely wrong! Westar crunched the numbers and found out that they could make a huge profit from transporting power through their system line east or west. And they will now be able to raise their rates to pay for it. Until you know how the grid works zip it.

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professormarvel 5 years, 11 months ago

Freeman Dyson on Global Warming:"We have no reason to think that climate change is harmful if you look at the world as a whole. Most places, in fact, are better off being warmer than being colder. And historically, the really bad times for the environment and for people have been the cold periods rather than the warm periods. The fact that the climate is getting warmer doesn't scare me at all. There's no reason why one should be scared." Freeman Dyson, Salon Magazine interview, September 29, 2007.

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wekan 5 years, 11 months ago

Belexus, thank you for that explanation.I had hoped there would be a more comprehensive and less political conversation about Kansas' energy future instead of the circus we witnessed over the past few months.Maybe it'll be better after the flared tempers cool down.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

professormarvel-- Notice that Dyson didn't say that global warming isn't a problem. As a matter of fact, he readily concedes that it is possibly a very serious problem. His main quarrel over global warming/climate change is that he doesn't like computer modeling.But he's not the only smart guy in the world, and the vast majority of smart guys (and girls) who are studying this believe that there is a serious problem looming.Unfortunately, it really isn't the only serious problem we, as a species, face. And whether you like it or not, that means we will have to make very major changes in how we conduct our lives.

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Bill Griffith 5 years, 11 months ago

Wekan, the difference between any earlier decisions (although not by Bremby) to ok coal plants in Kansas came before April 2007 when the SCOTUS ruled in Massachusetts vs. EPA that CO2 was a pollutant. Before that time it could not be considered one by any administrative officer of health at the state or federal level. Now SCOTUS has directed EPA to begin carbon regulations. This ruling gave Bremby a legal hook to hang his hat on.

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ASBESTOS 5 years, 11 months ago

"Does anyone really know what a "Clean" Coal Burning Plant is?"Does anybody know if the "greenies" and liberals have an ounce of mental capacity to understand complex problems?The human caused GW debate is "political bling" for democrats. ( I should say "political crack". This is the equivalent of the abortion/Gay marriage wedge issue that the wacky right uses.)Too bad it is not real.

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professormarvel 5 years, 11 months ago

"I believe global warming is grossly exaggerated as a problem. . . .The idea that global warming is the most important problem facing the world is total nonsense and is doing a lot of harm. It distracts people's attention from much more serious problems." Freeman Dyson, Salon Magazine interview, September 29, 2007.

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Lindsey Buscher 5 years, 11 months ago

Bozo--ahha, fair enough, I was wondering.

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Lindsey Buscher 5 years, 11 months ago

Does anyone really know what a "Clean" Coal Burning Plant is? Does it mean literally clean, like clean in and of itself? or is just a comparison, cleaner relative to other coal plants?I don't ask to shoot down detractors, but can anyone explain in plain english if it is actually clean, or just cleaner?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

Puggy-- those weren't my words. They were CatFan's words, and I was responding. See my full post above (cool reposted it further down.)

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Lindsey Buscher 5 years, 11 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says:"What will Lawrence residents do to help the environment that equals the burden Gov. Sebelius and Bremby forced on the west? Will you cease the use of electricity from your 18 "dirty" coal plants?"If utility companies are willing to build some wind turbines in Douglas County, then all I have to say is where do I sign up to get electricity from them? Furthermore, if I were to be in the home-buying market in Lawrence, I would ask some of my neighborhood hippies the best way to get ahold of solar panels. Bozo--what burden did Sibelius force on the west? People do not really care where they get their electricity from, just so long as they get it. If there are alternatives to coal that will fuel western Kansas, then 1) people would be just as happy with it, and 2) constructing/operating them would create just as many jobs.

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cool 5 years, 11 months ago

worth repeating:just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says:"What will Lawrence residents do to help the environment that equals the burden Gov. Sebelius and Bremby forced on the west? Will you cease the use of electricity from your 18 "dirty" coal plants?"I, for one, would support an energy plan that would at the very least dramatically reduce the reliance on coal for our electricity needs, and would increase the availability of power in the west. Such a policy would almost certainly contain construction of wind-generation and transmission lines in western Kansas, among other measures. I think a majority of Kansans would support this, too.You in the west and we in the east just need to get our legislators out of the pocket of big coal to make it happen.

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dirkleisure 5 years, 11 months ago

MXO, you mean the big companies like Westar, which is investing over $500 million in new transmission lines to get additional power on the grid?Go back to your silly name calling posts. When you try to make sense you reveal you have no idea what you're talking about.

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malcolm_x_obama 5 years, 11 months ago

Nugget,We can see the steam rising from your "nugget" of wisdom posted above. If you think the dems are better than the republicans then you're high on your nuggets. The progressives will have us living like cattle, hardly the freedom envisioned by our founding fathers. The coal plant was shelved because Queen Kathy is self serving. She is not serving Kansas. The other power companies will see the value of electricity rise as less is produced and available on the grid. Why would they support sunflower? They're going to gouge us now.

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nugget 5 years, 11 months ago

Watch the wrath of Neufeld unfold before your eyes. He's not getting the big payout he was promised to see these get built. This isn't about jobs or power for Kansas. It's all about paying off politicians.When will all those Kansans that keep voting Republican catch onto the hot button issues they're peddled as the most important thing in the world, ie., abortion, intelligent design, and realize the Republicans just use those tactics to get elected so they can further their own personal wealth. Probably never.Look at Jim Ryun. Perfect example. Morally bankrupt, looking for that big government paid salary once again under the guise of "representing" Kansas. Sheesh.

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wekan 5 years, 11 months ago

By the way, I thought thsi was interesting. Some of you may enjoy:Entire village powered by solar powerhttp://ecoworldly.com/2008/05/09/south-korean-solar-system-community-on-jeju-island-a-brilliant-idea/

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Andrew Stahmer 5 years, 11 months ago

You know...if there was a way to harness/reclaim methane produced by humans (make gas-x and beno illegal drugs) and animals, our energy cares would be gone! Would methane be a possible fuel source for cars? Just think of the bean shortages we'd face....(OK, yes 'gross' but shouldn't we be looking at all alternatives!?)

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

Yes, this is politics to the extent that it is only now becoming politically possible to begin to regulate CO2 emissions. And it's entirely logical to begin that regulation on new plants that would cost $billions to construct, the cost of which would be passed directly to ratepayers, rather than starting with the immediate decommissioning of existing plants, which could cause massive economic hardship. It's hardly rocket science.

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wekan 5 years, 11 months ago

Sunflower wanted one thing, the Governor wanted another. They both politicized the issue and demonized people who did not agree with their shaky logic. Who lost in the end? The rest of us.This should have been a question for the courts originally, who will almost certainly find that the Secretary exceeded his authority by denying the permit (as he issued permits for other, dirtier plants). But by then it'll likely be too late.Another example of how politics destroys everything it touches.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

"Why would Westar want to buy this power when they can generate their own dirty coal power for less??"That's why there needs to be a carbon tax on all significant sources of CO2 (which could be offset by reductions in other taxes.) Sunflower and Westar would be on the same playing field-- Sunflower would have to decide whether it would be worth spending $billions on obsolete technologies, and Westar would have an incentive to phase theirs out.

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cool 5 years, 11 months ago

CLIMATE CHANGE, letter to the LJW:Wind power, solar heating system, geothermal heat pumps, photo-voltaics and other renewable choices are the promise of the future, not coal. The reason?"The reservoir of oxygen in the atmosphere is large but not infinite. It amounts to 1.2 million gigatons. Since eight tons of oxygen are used up for every three tons of carbon burned, and we are burning six gigatons of carbon per year (1990 data), we might expect that the oxygen is being used up at the rate of about 13 parts per million per year. Thirteen parts per million should be measurable." - Freeman Dyson from his essay "Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere & Biosphere," 1990.According to a recent study by scientists from the Scripps Institute there is less oxygen in the atmosphere today. The study, which interpreted data from NOAA monitoring stations all over the world, has been running from 1989 to the present. It monitored the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the decline in oxygen. The conclusion is that, as carbon dioxide (produced primarily by burning fossil fuels) accumulates in the atmosphere, available oxygen is decreasing."As every schoolchild is supposed to know, the burning of fuels uses up oxygen from the atmosphere, and the growth of plants puts oxygen back. If the natural ratio is upset by cumulative practices since about 1900, then you have climate change.

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KsTwister 5 years, 11 months ago

Ted Turner has just invested two billion in developing wind energy to avoid 12 billion in costs to build coal plants for energy needs in the future in Texas. Hmmm...must be a good reason.

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georgeofwesternkansas 5 years, 11 months ago

All of this does not matter with gas going to $10-$15/gal. people's biggert concern will be feeding their children, not if they have lights.

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georgeofwesternkansas 5 years, 11 months ago

"The real question is, what is Sunflower willing to do for eastern Kansas? If their energy is so clean, why are they only willing to share it with Colorado and Texas?"Why would Westar want to buy this power when they can generate their own dirty coal power for less?? Westar had every chance to buy into this process and choose not to. To make their margins westar would have to charge 9 cents/kw, currently their customers pay 6 cents. Go figure.

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malcolm_x_obama 5 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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dirkleisure 5 years, 11 months ago

Do not buy into this victim argument being professed by Sunflower's supporters.It is an eastern Kansas company that is committing over $500 million to build the most technologically advanced transmission network in the United States. And almost all of it is being built in western Kansas.The real question is, what is Sunflower willing to do for eastern Kansas? If their energy is so clean, why are they only willing to share it with Colorado and Texas?Until there is a suggestion that improvements to Westar's service area be shouldered "from the state," suggestions to do the same for Sunflower are just playing into their "woe is me" attitude.And that attitude is unfounded. Don't believe the hype.

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Bill Griffith 5 years, 11 months ago

The KCC is addressing energy efficiency regulations this summer which will allow utilities to invest more heavily in efficiency. This will bring on rate increases for Westar, KCPL, and Empire as well as Kansas Gas. It remains to be seen if the munis and the cooperatives will sign on to this change. It is a very big change in the way utility business is done in the state. The rate increases will be smaller than adding fossil fuels or even wind to the generation mix. So, eastern Kansas will defiinitely be cutting emissions some percentage over the next five years. The question is if western Kansas, led by Midwest and Sunflower will do this as well. Sunflower can cut .7 percent of its demand over the next five years by doing energy efficiency (Sunflower's own study), so the amount of new power needed is small. However, if Sunflower is looking at replacing some of its dilapidated gas units, that will be a larger investment. While I think the bulk of that cost should be shouldered by its members just as Westar's customers shoulder its rate increases, I think a small percent could come from the state as economic stimulus if Sunflower would commit to added ee and renewable investment.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

"What will Lawrence residents do to help the environment that equals the burden Gov. Sebelius and Bremby forced on the west? Will you cease the use of electricity from your 18 "dirty" coal plants?"I, for one, would support an energy plan that would at the very least dramatically reduce the reliance on coal for our electricity needs, and would increase the availability of power in the west. Such a policy would almost certainly contain construction of wind-generation and transmission lines in western Kansas, among other measures. I think a majority of Kansans would support this, too. You in the west and we in the east just need to get our legislators out of the pocket of big coal to make it happen.

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GIHAWK 5 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, right. Blame the victim...

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CatFan 5 years, 11 months ago

What will Lawrence residents do to help the environment that equals the burden Gov. Sebelius and Bremby forced on the west? Will you cease the use of electricity from your 18 "dirty" coal plants? Will you pay a utility surcharge so the west can afford the gas-generation needed to fill the gap left by no coal? The Governor talked about compromise. What, if anything, is eastern Kansas giving up in this arrangement?

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Pilgrim 5 years, 11 months ago

belexus73 (Anonymous) says:I asked an attorney friend to ballpark the time on the legal cases involving the Sunflower coal plant expansion. She said four to six years to go through all the cases including appeals. I could be wrong but I believe Tri-State is going to pull the plug on their end of things soon.********Maybe, but we still need to let Bremby and Katy know that Rod is not imbued with the power of "Because I said so." He had no statutory authority for his decision, and he ignored his own professional staff in doing so.Where does a former assistant city manager from a small college town get off thinking he's smarter than the professionals who have to work for him?

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Bill Griffith 5 years, 11 months ago

I asked an attorney friend to ballpark the time on the legal cases involving the Sunflower coal plant expansion. She said four to six years to go through all the cases including appeals. I could be wrong but I believe Tri-State is going to pull the plug on their end of things soon.

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KsTwister 5 years, 11 months ago

"The project was proposed by Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to expand its operation near Holcomb. Two out-of-state partners would have owned most of the electricity."Sending all of the energy out of Kansas and leaving the pollution and rate increases to us.

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KRITIKOS 5 years, 11 months ago

Since we pay her salary and she spends her time campaigning for Obama, do I classify my state taxes paid as a campaign contribution? Not Me, from the Family Circus comic, must live at Seeder hood Mansion.

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