Archive for Monday, February 23, 2009

Lumps of coal wrapped inside ‘green’ package

February 23, 2009


— For the second straight year, Kansas lawmakers have put green wrapping around a carbon dioxide-emitting coal-fired power project.

Legislative leaders say House Bill 2014, which would pave the way for construction of two 700-megawatt coal-burning plants near Holcomb, will be up for a vote this week.

“It’s a pretty comprehensive bill,” House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said.

The legislation incorporates more than a dozen bills that would implement sweeping changes in state energy policy, including several “green” initiatives aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind.

But the core of the bill includes changes that would essentially require that Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby issue permits for the Holcomb project in southwestern Kansas.

Bremby denied the permits in 2007, citing environmental and health effects of the project’s emission of 11 million tons per year of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that scientists say is contributing to destructive climate change.

The Legislature spent much of the 2008 session passing legislation to reverse Bremby’s decision, but Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the attempts and efforts to override her fell just short of the two-thirds majority needed in the House.

Developers of the project — Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association — are seeking to have Bremby’s decision overturned in court.

But they also are seeking legislative help again. O’Neal said the Legislature needs to act because it is unknown when the legal process will run its course.

“The court is on its own timetable. That timetable doesn’t fit our timetable in terms of if we’re going to do the project,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal said he believes he has the votes in his chamber to override an expected Sebelius veto — 84 votes in the 125-member House. In the 40-member Senate, 27 votes are needed to override.

But opponents of the project say they will be able to uphold a veto.

The project, they say, is even more untenable now than last year because of the election of President Barack Obama, who has vowed to address greenhouse gases.

Last week new EPA administrator Lisa Jackson set in motion a process that could lead to regulations of CO2.

David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club, said Jackson’s decision “should cast significant further doubt on the approximately 100 coal-fired power plants that the industry is trying to rush through the permitting process without any limits on carbon dioxide.”


SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 1 month ago

"What?!? The environmental regulatory agency did it's job and denied permits for a new plant that would subsidize the revenue of two 700-megawatt coal plants with the air quality of all Kansans??" - bozo

Show me the air quality standard by which these decisions are made. Or are they made arbitrarily perhaps?


Poon 5 years, 1 month ago

Sven Erik Alstrom (parrotuya) says…

I am certain that our illustrious legislature will find a way to tax cut their way out of this problem.

More and bigger tax cuts!


logicsound04 5 years, 1 month ago

"That timetable doesn’t fit our timetable in terms of if we’re going to do the project,” O’Neal said."

First of all, the Sunflower execs originally threatened that if they could not get funding by a specific date (last year, I believe) that they would not be able to move forward. That is the reason they gave for hammering the legislature to write specific legislation rather than waiting for their legal options to play out. Well, that deadline came and went, yet Sunflower is still on the warpath. So you can stick your lies about timetable goals.

Second of all....OUR timetable? Excuse me? I was under the impression that you were a representative in the Kansas Legislature Mr. O'Neal, not an employee on the payroll of Sunflower Corp. No matter what happens here, the Sunflower project timeline is not YOUR timeline. The fact that you would refer to it as such is a gigantic warning flag imho. Perhaps someone should check into how you stand to benefit from the forced approval to construct the Holcomb plants.

Lastly, I have to express concern at the overall thought process behind this bill. We have a group of representatives who want to pave the way for the construction of the 2 Holcomb plants, but in doing so, they are going to not only restrict the KDHE's ability to stop these plants, but they are going to, as a side-effect, restrict the KDHE's ability to regulate any industry that may affect the health and environment of Kansans.

Even if you think the Holcomb plants should be built you have to wonder to yourself if getting them built is worth the potential cost of stripping our State's environmental regulatory agency of their power to set standards.

I am getting rather tired of the Legislature's continued myopia....

What?!? The Court is ruling that we unconstitutionally underfunded schools in relation to a cost of per capita education study WE requested, only to ignore?? By God, let's write a new law restricting the power of the Judicial branch!!!

What?!? The Governor's going to appoint a Democrat to fill a seat vacated by a Republican?? By God, let's write a new law forcing her to choose Republican!!!!

What?!? The environmental regulatory agency did it's job and denied permits for a new plant that would subsidize the revenue of two 700-megawatt coal plants with the air quality of all Kansans?? By God, let's write a new law stripping the regulatory agency of it's power.

I just wish the legislature would be more concerned about figuring out some solutions to the problems facing our state rather than getting indignant and trying to write new laws to limit the power of other government entities.


Chris Ogle 5 years, 1 month ago

If at first you fail.... just stop.. no sense making a damn fool of yourself.


Reality_Check 5 years, 1 month ago

They just don't get the word "No" do they? And the governor will veto it, so what's the point?

"If at first you don't succeed, keep wasting your time..."


feeble 5 years, 1 month ago

Kansas should not be a dumping ground for Colorado's power problems. For once, dung shouldn't roll down hill.

Sweeten the pot, or find another state.


Ralph Reed 5 years, 1 month ago

Logrithmic, Good post at 0730. Brought everything together in one package.


yankeelady 5 years, 1 month ago

We got a "robocall" yesterday, urging us to call our Representative and ask them to support it. It didn't say what just the House Bill number. We will contact our legislators, and urge them to NOT support this. No new coal, and lets clean up the ones we already have.


parrotuya 5 years, 1 month ago

I am certain that our illustrious legislature will find a way to tax cut their way out of this problem.

More and bigger tax cuts!


SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 1 month ago

Hmmm. Do you think the story's headline reveals a bias against the power plants?? Of course it does!

And as an aside, why is the Sierra Club even given ink on these pages?


georgeofwesternkansas 5 years, 1 month ago

It is really too bad there is not another source of energy for us to use that will not empty the pockets of everyone to get it built.


average 5 years, 1 month ago

We're building it in Kansas, because Colorado won't let them build it in Colorado (where almost all the demand for the power is coming from).

If nothing else, we should figure a way that Colorado consumers pay a 2c/kWh tariff on that power, and that is translated to a 2c/kWh or more discount on western Kansas consumers, as their payback for accepting Colorado's unwanted stepchild. Any extra funds from that tariff go to bonds for green energy, conservation, and environmental mitigation projects in Kansas.

To me, it's not just that Kansas legislators are selling off the farm (our air and scarce aquifer water), it's that they're giving it away the farm, for basically no recompense, mostly as a temper tantrum because Kathy told them no.


Dale Stringer 5 years, 1 month ago

Well, if they don't get the permit because of the amount of CO2 they are going to put out, then the state should also close all the other plants we already have that are already putting out more CO2 than these plants would.


rdave13 5 years, 1 month ago

Very good logrithmic...if only Tom Sloan would live up to his pre-Legislative session statement in the LJW article that he was going to concentrate on critical issues that impacted state


grimpeur 5 years, 1 month ago

Hey O'Neal: sit down and shut up, you grandstanding horse's arse.


cdcass 5 years, 1 month ago

Logrithmic- Thank you - I hope your post will be read and understood. This is logic! Well stated!


logrithmic 5 years, 1 month ago

This bill has major problems and should be outright objected. Here are five reasons to reject the bill and contact your state rep or senator:

  1. The Renewable Portfolio Standard

  2. Does not measure renewable energy production by the same standard most other states do. It sets soft goals. We can achieve much greater energy and economic development with stricter goals. Stricter goals means more jobs, and a greater demand to develop clean, Kansas wind and solar energy.

  3. Allows Kansas utilities to count energy efficiency standards towards meeting the renewable energy goals. This is unnecessary and further reduces utility incentive to maximize our renewable energy production. We can do much better, and we deserve better.

  4. Probably less strict than the "voluntary" one utilities are a part of now in Kansas.

  5. Energy Efficiency

  6. Only establishes energy efficiency standards for new State buildings - not commercial buildings or homes and does not set ambitious goals.

  7. No required efficiency standards - only encourages standards for energy efficiency goals. - Would set the course for efficiency standards in KS, and would fail to accomplish anything meaningful

  8. Net Metering

  9. The bill establishes net metering in name only.

  10. If you invest in small scale renewables to produce energy and return excess power to the utility - you would only be allowed to produce enough to cover the costs of your monthly bill. After that - the utilities get all your excess energy for free. They don't have to pay you a dime for excess energy produced. This is a provision intended to appease the co-ops, even though both Westar and KCPL agreed to a "true" net metering bill this session, that would have allowed people to earn money from producing energy.

  11. Federal Stimulus Package

  12. This bill does nothing to put Kansas in position to earn competitive money for energy from the Economic Stimulus Program.

  13. The federal government has made billions of dollars available in competitive grants to states. States will be measured by their comprehensive energy policy. Kansas has no energy policy.

  14. As is, these bills contain none of the policy necessary to meet federal funding requirements.

  15. In short, playing politics with our energy policy forces the construction of coal plants in KS, and leaves millions of dollars on the table that we aren't even eligible for. We deserve better!

  16. Sacrificing real energy policy for coal plant politics - Just like last year - all of this weak policy is constructed in order to pass a law that forces the KDHE to permit Sunflower Electric's Coal plants. They get their plants, we get no meaningful policy, carbon liability, weakened health and environment agency, and now renewable energy jobs.

Have a great day and my your Lord bless you!


cdcass 5 years, 1 month ago

That is the least of their concerns unfortunately. Some see that as a primary issue, and while it is, other very serious issues are at stake as well. Some only concern themselves with the money, others with health issues that are never taken into consideration-especially given the fact that some do not consider health issues a viable concern. It really is unfortunate that more people will not educate themselves on the true concerns of CO2 and how it poisons our planet and the health of our citizens. Sebelius essentially has her hands tied on this, and this new speaker, from all I have heard is no picnic for moderates to work with. I have fought against this hard, so have many others and it seems a futile fight when we are surrounded by both party legislatures who do not feel money is better spend on greener technology - Kansas is poised to be a leader in the industry, just too bad the leaders who represent this state can't see through the carbon emissions to make the needed changes. The money would be well worth the investment. Speaking on the money part - funds would be saved in the end, is that not the whole point? Wish they more examples on which they base their votes. Just like a couple of years ago when all the Republicans, and yes even some Democrats voted against raising the minimum fuel standards-no foresight.


tumbilweed 5 years, 1 month ago

Lets also talk about water use in western Kansas. Where ya gonna get the water, Sunflower?


Commenting has been disabled for this item.