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Kansas City Star: Lots of cash behind coal plant clash



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Lots of cash behind coal plant clash

The energy industry, utilities and environmental groups are locked in a high-stakes battle in the Kansas Legislature to win the minds (and votes) of legislators. Theories of global warming clash with debates over coal as a clean fuel. Questions of fairness and economic development are lobbed back and forth.

And amid all the rhetoric, the effort to swing votes has turned into the most expensive lobbying fight in state history. Annual lobbying expenditures have topped $1 million for the first time. More than half of the $1.17 million in lobbying expenses reported to the state in 2007 came from energy companies and utilities.

The article continues with comments on legislator’s beliefs in the science of global climate change:

Science in dispute

Even as the global warming theory has taken hold, many lawmakers remain skeptical. For them, the larger issues are fairness and economic development in western Kansas. They ask why western Kansas shouldn’t get its expanded plant.

Count Rep. Larry Powell as a skeptic. This year, the Garden City Republican offered lawmakers copies of a book that asserted there was no scientific consensus on global warming. Titled Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, the book was sent to Powell by the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank based in Chicago that has received funding from foundations associated with the owners of Wichita-based energy giant Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil.

After state rejection of the Sunflower project, Powell wrote to the state’s newspapers, saying carbon emissions likely would boost agricultural output by 50 percent.

Many lawmakers say climate change may end up being much ado about nothing.

And those scientists who say climate change could have a catastrophic impact?

“Hysterics who claim the sky is falling,” said Rep. Mike Kiegerl, an Olathe Republican.

During four days of legislative hearings on the coal plant, only one climate scientist spoke. And he got only seven minutes to explain the work of the International Panel on Climate Change, a consortium of 2,000 scientists.

We will have a post soon discussing the “fairness” issue that this article continues to┬ámention. That our legislators don’t accept the results of the growing consensus on global climate change, and are basing Kansas policy on mistaken understanding of science is a point that we must take up politically.

An important discussion in the article:

What many in Kansas do not know is the part Sunflower has played to discredit the global warming theory.

Our legislators are partly reacting to both public opinion and what they hear themselves from the people they speak to, but they are speaking to people with a vested interest in denying global climate science.

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