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Sun newspapers article: ‘Some pollution is OK’



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The various Sun newspapers of the Johnson County area ran the story Thursday (3rd):

 ‘Some pollution is OK’

We didn’t ask permission to quote the entire article, and will change that if necessary. This article fails to give any “other sides” to the issue except for the state senators’ opinions, and only dissenting opinion on construction of a new coal-fired power plant is from Sen. David Wysong, “My district is concerned about global warming and we listened to them.”

What is very important about this article is that it gives the context from the Kansas legislature point of view. People who disagree (like your web site’s author) need this information:

‘Some pollution is OK’

By: Katrina Segers, staff writer

 

The fate of two $3.6 million coal-fired power plants in western Kansas remains unknown, but most state senators from Johnson County support the plants.Local legislators expect no more action on the issue during the regular session that ends Friday.Kansas officials rejected permits for the plants last year because of health risks associated with carbon dioxide emissions. The Legislature passed Senate bill No. 327 to allow the plants last month, but Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill, citing an “obligation to protect the health and well-being of the people of Kansas.”Kansas Rep. Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said legislators could consider a new bill to allow the plants during the wrap-up session, which starts April 30.Of Johnson County’s seven senators, David Wysong, R-Mission Hills, cast the sole vote against SB 327.Wysong said constituents in his district told him they opposed the bill.“My district is concerned about global warming and we listened to them,” he said.

Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe, said CO2 emissions from the coal plants would be less than emissions from the proposed intermodal facility near Gardner.

“This is not just about building coal plants, it’s about energy to meet the demand,” Lynn said. “The reality is that our energy demand is projected to grow 50 percent in the next 20 years and this demand can’t be met with the current production.”

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said the bill is good for Kansas as a whole, not only because the project would supply more than 1,000 jobs during construction and 250 full-time jobs when running, but because it offers western Kansas an adequate supply of electricity.

“Electricity is considerably more expensive in western Kansas than it is in the eastern part of the state. The project would help reduce the cost of electricity for people in the western part of the state,” Vratil said. “It would also open up the opportunity for new wind-generated electricity because new transmission lines would be built that are necessary for wind generation. If this project isn’t built, those transmission lines will not be built and we won’t have the capacity then to handle new wind generation.

“Generally I tried to weigh the pros and cons of the proposition and in my assessment there were more advantages to this than disadvantages.”

Vratil said carbon dioxide emission is the one negative of the plant.

“It’s easy for those of us in the eastern part of the state where we have ample electricity at a very reasonable price to say, ‘Well, we shouldn’t build any more coal-fired plants,’” he said. “That’s because we’ve got plenty of electricity. If we were in the same position as the people are in western Kansas we would be screaming for another coal-fired generation plant.”

Lynn said Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s proposal to develop an Integrated Bioenergy Center would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent.

“This is all integrated and it’s really the first of its kind as far as we know in the country,” she said.

“I feel that there is a lot of ways that they could take care of the CO2 emissions and so what we may be facing in the future would outweigh anything negative,” Dennis Wilson, R-Overland Park, said. “The possibility of a brown-out in western Kansas could happen. We need jobs; we need income for western Kansas.”

Lynn disputed the “insinuation that these plants are not environmentally responsible.”

“We also have to keep in mind that if we are concerned about CO2 as a nation then we need to look and put pressure on those countries that have absolutely no environmental regulations at all,” Lynn said. “We will do our part and we are doing our part, but to insinuate in some way that Kansas, by developing these new plants, is producing a new carbon footprint is just an attempt to create fear on the part of consumers.”

Wilson, Lynn and Vratil said Sebelius made the wrong decision by vetoing the bill and proposing an alternative plan.

“She offered a compromise, which is really a hollow compromise,” Vratil said. “One of the things she offered was to approve a plant that has about half the capacity that the proposed plant has. Well, that sounds good as a compromise, but she knows as I know that a plant of that size is not economically feasible.”

Lynn said she respects the governor, but “people can’t have health and well-being … without efficient energy. That energy needs to be cost-effective and that’s what these plants are about. It’s about planning for the future in a responsible way.”

Wilson said the plants are good for Kansas in the long term.

“The opponents would counter that only 20 percent of the electricity generated by the plant will be used in Kansas when the plant comes online, and that’s true, but you don’t size it for your current needs, you size it for your needs 30 to 40 years down the road,” Vratil said. “Yes, we’ll only be using 20 percent of the capacity initially, but as the need for electricity expands we’ll eventually use all the capacity of that plant in Kansas.”

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