Archive for Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kansas Chamber releases poll showing significant support for coal-burning power plants

Kansas Chamber survey shows 51% of residents favor plants

March 25, 2009


— The Kansas Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday turned up the political heat for a bill to allow the construction of two 700-megawatt coal-burning power plants with the release of a poll that indicates significant support for the proposal.

“In all categories you see the support outweighs the opposition to the coal plant,” said Amy Blankenbiller, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber.

Fifty-one percent favor “the building of a new electrical power plant that uses coal in Kansas,” according to the poll. Twenty-six percent oppose it, and 23 percent were undecided, according to the poll of 600 registered voters that was conducted last week.

The proposed construction of the plants has been at the center of a fierce fight for two years. The Legislature has approved bills to build the plants in southwest Kansas, but Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed the measures, citing concerns about climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

The Kansas Senate has voted to override Sebelius’ vetoes, but the House has fallen several votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority to override.

The latest version of the bill is in a House-Senate conference committee. House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said he was confident that the House would approve that bill next week and “when the time arrives” there would be enough votes to override another expected veto.

Supporters of the project said the poll results confirmed what they hear statewide about the proposed plants. They said the project would produce jobs and be among the cleanest burning coal plants in the country. And they noted the poll showed the No. 1 concern in Kansas is the economy.

“People want to do this,” Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said. “The needs are there. Three-point-six billion dollars in economic development in this economy, I don’t know how anyone could ignore that.”

The poll showed widespread support of the project regardless of political affiliation or region.

Opponents of the project have said Kansas needs to focus on its natural attributes for development of wind energy.

In response to the poll, Tom Thompson, a lobbyist for the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club, said most Kansans want to do something about global warming and focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

But O’Neal said wind energy cannot meet society’s future power needs.

“That’s not a doable, possible scenario in our lifetime and probably not in our children’s lifetime,” O’Neal said.


KansasVoter 9 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, like I'm gonna believe a poll that was taken by the Chamber of Commerce.

Kansas does not need, and Kansas don't want the Holcomb expansion.

Phillbert 9 years, 1 month ago

So 51 percent in a Chamber poll want the coal plants. That probably equals about 25 percent in an unbiased poll.

Jaylee 9 years, 1 month ago

uhhh 600 registered voters where??

the only people ive ever heard for this were a very few cries from western kansans and an oklahoman who would have been receiving the power.

this poll is bogus and so is the chamber if they elect to go forward with this.

1029 9 years, 1 month ago

This is too funny.

600 people? And the poll also determined "the No. 1 concern in Kansas is the economy"?

I would love to see the exact wording of these questions and the order in which they were asked. You can get results to say anything you want them to say based on how you are wording the questions, how they are ordered, how you lead into them, etc.

LiberalDude 9 years, 1 month ago

This "poll" cannot be trusted. It was likely conducted by some GOP action fund.

1957 9 years, 1 month ago

KansasVoter and others,

You are wrong on 2 counts:

Kansas does need and does want these power plants.

There are no other viable options at this time. As alternative sources come on line they can compete with the coal power plants but right now they are not viable and will be very expensive. The real choice is between power and no power not between coal and wind.

If the new plants are so bad then why aren't you pushing to shut down the one outside of town? It is far dirtier than what is being considered.

Mixolydian 9 years, 1 month ago

I'm not a big fan of Pat Buchanan, but I love his story about myopic idealogues, which came to mind after reading comments on this story disputing the poll results.

After Nixon was re-elected in 1972 by an overwhelming landslide (60% to 37%), Buchanan overheard a young liberal exclaim in disbelief, "How could Nixon win? Nobody I know voted for him!"

My vote: Build the plants. Build giant rat wheels, build nuclear, build windmills, build anything that won't use foreign oil.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

"If the new plants are so bad then why aren't you pushing to shut down the one outside of town? It is far dirtier than what is being considered."

Most of the existing coal power plants should be shut down, ASAP, including the one outside Lawrence. But this argument is nothing but a distraction from the idiocy of spending $billions on dinosaur technologies rather than phasing out old plants as sustainable alternatives come on line.

OnlyLawrenceRepublican 9 years, 1 month ago

Any time 51% of people want something, it's a divisive issue.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

Chamber: Compartment in something: an enclosed space, compartment, or cavity, for example, one inside a machine, the body, or a plant

It's going to have to get a whole lot better than that before I start liken it.

1957 9 years, 1 month ago

bozo on the bus,

I agree with what you say except there are no sustainable alternatives at this time. Until there are once again the choice is between power and no power.

Jaylee 9 years, 1 month ago


i totally hear that!! one of my personal philosophies i hope the future employs is redevelopment vs. development.

and mixo, speaking of myopic ideologues, how about expanding yours to include all the pollution that would hit the middle oh, half of the united states as a result of this poorly placed, poorly thought out western kansas coal plant?

Bill Griffith 9 years, 1 month ago

1957-It is not a choice between wind and coal. It is a choice between wind with natural gas back-up (10% spinning reserve) plus energy effiicency on a much-ramped up scale and new coal. If you look at Westar's testimony last year at the KCC, wind/ng is cheaper than new coal power. Of course, ee is the cheapest of all at 2-3 cents per kilowatt of wholesale power.

50YearResident 9 years, 1 month ago

I bet the poll was taken just over the state line in Colorado.

1957 9 years, 1 month ago

belexus73 - Good points but a natural gas back-up is not the sustainable alternatives mentioned.

If we go this route what we would have is basically natural gas vs. coal powered plants because wind will not come close to supplying demand. Natural gas is also a significantly more expensive fuel.

q_ball2kand1 9 years, 1 month ago

1957 (Anonymous) says… KansasVoter and others, You are wrong on 2 counts: Kansas does need and does want these power plants

Is that why the majority of the power to be produced by the proposed plants is going to Colorado?

KansasVoter 9 years, 1 month ago

KansasVoter (Anonymous) says… "Kansas does not need, and Kansas don't want the Holcomb expansion."

Ugh! I hate it when I screw up my posts. I meant to say "Kansans don't want..."

Jonathan Becker 9 years, 1 month ago

Mark Twain said, "There are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned lies and statistics."

Which category fits the Chamber of Commerce palaver?

danemary 9 years, 1 month ago


frank mcguinness 9 years, 1 month ago

The results of this poll remind me of when people strongly supported limiting the rights of blacks or women. Sure a majority may support it but then again the majority is wrong!

jafs 9 years, 1 month ago

It surprises me that so few people seem to realize our "energy needs" are not fixed.

If we consider reducing our use and conserving electricity, for example, it's not at all clear to me that Kansas "needs" a new power plant, especially since only 15% of the electricity produced would stay here.

Maddy Griffin 9 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to know how this poll was conducted. The new coal plant( or expansion) is not for power for Kansas. The extra energy it would generate is for Colorado. Let them build it there. Any new energy plant will bring jobs. Do we want the extra pollution that goes with it? Let Colorado have that, too.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 1 month ago

It was a push poll. One question with a set-up statement about how the economy and jobs are important. Also, 600 participants is a questionable sample size. The Chamber has certainly lost credibility over this scherade.

KansasVoter 9 years, 1 month ago

Pilgrim2 (Anonymous) says… "But you'd completely believe a poll showing opposition to the plants if it were commissioned by the Sierra Club, right?"

Probably, but not if it was as biased as this poll. The Sierra Club is trustworthy, but I wouldn't trust the Chamber of Commerce of any city or state in America.

Chris Golledge 9 years, 1 month ago

The coal plants would be a great economic boon, for the states of Colorado and Chihuahua. Kansas doesn't 'need' these plants because it would get very little from them:

15% of the energy produced < 100 jobs after completion

in exchange, we would get:

all the pollution more competition for already stretched water (How many acres can you irrigate with the same water?) + any tax or other incentives to build them (How many large "revenue-generating" projects have you seen built without any public fund assistance?)

Say these plants generate 1400 megawatts. That means that KS would receive 210 megawatts. Are there alternatives to these coal plants? Well, Kansas has wind and 210 MWe would be a fraction of what we already have.

So, we can have 210 MWe within a year or two with no pollution and no extra water usage, or we can have 210 MWe after however many years it takes to build a coal plant.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 1 month ago

Clean + Safe + Reliable + 16 cents per kilowatt hour = Nuclear

gccs14r 9 years, 1 month ago

How clean and safe can nuclear be if the waste can't be touched for 25,000 years?

KansasVoter 9 years, 1 month ago

Plus there's also only about 65 years worth of nuclear fuel left on the planet, so building more nuclear plants would only stretch that limited supply even thinner.

Bob_Keeshan 9 years, 1 month ago

I remember when the Kansas Land Institute released a poll, and they used a pollster who also does polling for Kathleen Sebelius, and it was widely dismissed around here.

Now the Kansas Chamber releases a poll, and they used a pollster who also does polling for Sam Brownback, and it is the God's honest truth.


Bob_Keeshan 9 years, 1 month ago

The poll from the Land Institute, apparently it was bogus due to the pollster. That's what I learned from reading the comments, anyway.

Chris Golledge 9 years, 1 month ago

So Amy says this survey shows that Kansans support the power plants. Let's see what else she says:

"Blankenbiller said, but denial of Sunflower Electric's permit for expansion has businesses second guessing. There is a lack of predictability in the regulatory environment, she said. The state issues and monitors hundreds of air-quality permits, she said.

"I'm here as a voice for them in the statehouse," Blankenbiller said.

Her position has been clear for over a year now. There should be no pretense that this was an unbiased survey. If you check the other article for the questions,

there is the rather glaring omission of any negative effects that the plants would have,

spankyandcranky 9 years, 1 month ago

logic -- thank you for posting the link to the poll. I find it interesting that the poll doesn't ask any questions regarding people's thoughts on the negative impact the new proposed power plants would cause. They list a bunch of positives outcomes for the plants, then ask which positive scenario people prefer the most. That sounds like a good way to question the minority to get a seemingly supportive response. How did they decide which 600 registered voters to question, I wonder? And how can such a small number of people poled transition into "widespread support of the project regardless of political affiliation or region"? I'm against the new plants here -- especially because the energy produced is mostly being used by another state ... let them deal with the costs of building the plant and receiving it's polution. We have enough pollution already, thanks!

johnp 9 years, 1 month ago

Assuming that the 600 was a random sample, this poll would have a margin of error that should have been reported. If it was not a random sample the results cannot be generalized.

I think that for a random sample of 600 the margin of error would be about 4%. So the result was somewhere between 47% and 55%. Since this band covers 50% I don't think that you can report this as a majority.

The actual question should have also been reported.

blindrabbit 9 years, 1 month ago

I was one of those polled; the young lady conducting the telephone poll was a clueless about the whole issue. She was not sure where Holcomb was; had no clue about the potential or lack of air emission issues associated with the proposed power plants. When I asked her about potential water resource issues associated with the proposed facility, she did not know what I was refering to.

I asked her if she was knowledgable or familiar about what she was supporting, she admitted she was not. I suggested she do a little homework so she could be more intelligent about her subject.

kmat 9 years, 1 month ago

"Clean + Safe + Reliable + 16 cents per kilowatt hour = Nuclear"

Then lets put the waste in your yard, ok?

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says…

So we are determining rights by opinion poll now? The state has no business telling property owners what they can and can't build on their property.

The state does have business telling us what we can build on our land. I can't build something on my land that will harm my neighborhood. Would it be ok if I wanted to put something that emits toxic waste on my property, knowing it would harm others?

See that's why you have to get permits. It's real simple.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 1 month ago

Actually, the state and Uncle Sam have plenty of business determining what is sited on a property when the public's health is involved-that is state law and federal law. Reality-it's whats for dinner.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 1 month ago

kmat-you might want to check on what 16 cents per kwh would be compared to what you pay now.

Macross25 9 years, 1 month ago

Never trust the polls, they are usually off and favor big interest. The last thing this State needs is more coal, smoke & other toxins mixing in the Air.

I'm originally from the Los Angeles area where smog & pollution truly take years off your life, I love Lawrence, the fresh air and do not want to see it change!!

With all the land we have here in KS. Build Wind & Solar plants if we need more energy. The technology is here & ready, Not to mention more FREE wind than one really needs. No toxic waste either, plus the jobs it would generate!!!

madameX 9 years, 1 month ago

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says…

kmat, of course you can't build something that harms your neighbors property, but only if they are against it, not the state. If your neighbors have no problem with it, say for example you buy an easement to pollute on their land, then the state has no business getting involved.

Yeah, but if it harms you neighbors property and they are against it, how are they supposed to exercise their right to protest it except through some agency of the state? Whether they go to the legislature and demand a law that prevents it, go to the governor and demand an executive order that prevents it, or go to court and demand that a judge prevent it, they still have to go through some branch of the government. I don't know that "the state" just arbitrarily decides to get in the middle of it and tell people what they can and can't do with their property, anyway. If they do it's usually because some group or another, usually one who stands to be affected one way or another, asked them to.

gccs14r 9 years, 1 month ago

That's your opinion. It's also deeply flawed. Property ownership is temporary, so things done to a piece of property have a generational component.

Mike Ford 9 years, 1 month ago

western kansas gets maybe 15 inches of rain a year at most. The head in the sand dingbats continue to deplete the Oglallah acquifer and talk down the scientists who confront them about this. Where oh where are they going to get the water to slurry the coal? who's going to truck this water in? The Smoky Hill and Arkansas Rivers are fairly dry due to acquifer depletion already in that part of the state. No slurry, no coal, no water, no slurry. They can't get slurry water and drinking water from the same place.

nekansan 9 years, 1 month ago

Did the 600 registered voters live upwind or downwind from the proposed power plant?

nekansan 9 years, 1 month ago

IF the legislature keeps pushing for this and it appears that they will, I'd love to see them add some requirements to move to net metering state wide and guaranteed buyback of excess power generated by consumers at the same rates that the power will be sold to out of state interests. I'd bet my last dollar that the utilities would fight such laws that would promote sustainable energy policies in the state of Kansas tooth and nail.

Kirk Larson 9 years, 1 month ago

nekansan (Anonymous) says…

Did the 600 registered voters live upwind or downwind from the proposed power plant?

Or more important, were the 600 all members of the Chamber of Commerce?

Bill Griffith 9 years, 1 month ago

If the state's action is arbitrary and capricious and the judicial branch is the proper forum to protect personal property rights, then why is Sunflower seeking legislative relief instead of letting this issue work itself through the courts, which is occurring anyways? If HB 2014 becomes law over a governor's oveerride, it will surely be subject to litigation that will drag on for a couple of years.

jafs 9 years, 1 month ago


Isn't "the state" merely a collection of individuals?

Also, requiring everyone to go to court to protect their rights is a bit of an imposition - most people are busy and stressed enough.

And, there are some issues that aren't personal - eg. air pollution - that will affect many people and not in a clear and immediate fashion. What kind of court cases would be used in that situation?

I fully grant that our system is not ideal in many ways, but I'm not at all sure that the Libertarian view is sufficient to meet all of our challenges.

jafs 9 years, 1 month ago

Further, the reference to "natural rights" is interesting.

In "nature" those "rights" don't exist - they were created by the founders of our nation. In other words, we formed a group and created some principles by which we wanted to organize our society.

jafs 9 years, 1 month ago

Just to beat the point into the ground, animals don't have any of those "rights".

If you are prey and weaker, you have no right to life. If you are submissive, you have to right to liberty. And, of course, animals don't own any property.

Also, the language was changed to read "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", wasn't it?

Kent Shrack 9 years ago

Significant, 51%, Margin of error? Someone needs to go back to school. Methods of Research 101 or even 3rd grade math doesn't show 51% as “significant” in favor.

Bill Griffith 9 years ago

How do we know that the judicial system does not currently work in Sunflower's favor? The Kansas Supreme Court is going to hear the case and I have not heard anyone predict with any certainty how it will turn out.

gccs14r 9 years ago


Humans are animals. Even in the presence of government and enforced laws, we still happily kill each other and steal stuff that isn't ours. Without government and the rule of law, there would be no life, liberty, or property, much less happiness. We'd be too busy trying to not die.

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