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Proponents of coal plants see turning point



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At least that is the heading as printed in the Kansas City Star, Feb 28, 2009.

By DAVID KLEPPER and STEVE KRASKE
The Kansas City Star

TOPEKA | Last year, Kansas backers of coal-burning power plants were like Sisyphus in mythology, doomed to roll a boulder up an incline again and again.

Lawmakers kept passing bills to get the plants built in western Kansas, then saw Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius wield her veto pen and kick the big rock down again.

This year they’re at it again. But has anything changed?

As it turns out, plenty.

New leadership in the Kansas House. Changes in tactics by plant supporters. Less vocal opposition.

And in this troubled economy, arguments about job creation and stable electric rates are a lot more compelling.

Still, it’s going to be tough for Republican leaders — particularly in the House — to muster the two-thirds majorities needed to override Sebelius, who has vowed to support her top regulator’s decision to reject the plants in 2007.

Read article in Kansas City Star…

Kansas Warming
http://www.kansaswarming.org/archives/41


George Will and the “global cooling” myth.



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Recently Washington Post commentator George Will called the scientific consensus that we need to reduce carbon emissions a “hypothetical calamity” (printed Feb. 20 in Kansas City Star, Feb 15th in the Washington Post). He referred to a currently popular notion that climate scientists are fickle and as recently as the 1970s were largely warning of the opposite problem, “global cooling.” While there are many good refutations to the notions in the column, your author suspects that this issue in various forms and from various sources may influence Kansas legislators. (The notion is repeated by the Heartland Institute, which provides literature to Kansas legislators.) Meetings with Kansas legislators suggest that they see the issue of global climate change as largely unsettled in the minds of scientists, and a vast majority have voted to override the Governor’s veto of a bill to allow new coal-fired power plants in Kansas. Below are several links written by highly reputable scientists and science writers on this issue of the so called “global cooling myth:”

Real Climate: The global cooling mole. (By John Fleck, science writer for the Albuquerque Journal, and William Connolley, a former a climate modeller with the British Antarctic Survey.)

George Will and the Global Cooling Scare. (John Fleck’s A reporter’s notebook about science and technology, hosted by the Albuquerque Journal.)

Real Climate, on “global cooling” issue in recent CNN programming.  (By Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeller at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.)

Real Climate’s Peterson, Connolley, and Fleck did a study to counter the ”myth” that atmospheric scientists were predicting “global cooling” in the 1970’s. (Link is PDF file).

Real Climate: The global cooling myth (William Connolley, includes refuting an identical quote out of context from Will in 2005.)

A specific example, from this last article, deals with Will’s statement that scientists wrote about “extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation.” (An identical quote from a 2005 editorial which Will repeats.) The problem is that article, from Dec. 10, 1976 Science Magazine, deals with something that may happen sometime in the next 20,000 years or so! Now humans have only built civilizations for the last 6,000 years, and engaged in agriculture for at most 11,000 years. The issue was dealing with something that possibly may take place in a time span many times longer that that of human civilization — but hardly an eminent occurrence. However global climate changes are of immediate scientific concern about events occurring in the next few decades.

A few misguided popular press articles from a time in which climate change science was in its infancy cannot be compared to virtually every science organization of national or international standing’s current warning that climate change is happening now and that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced.

Kansas Warming
http://www.kansaswarming.org/archives/42


Kansas Warming has been on hiatus



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With the defeat of the coal bill in last year’s Kansas legislature, and a heavy work load for your author, Kansas Warming has been on hiatus. But the issue lives on, and we must find time to discuss this issue. Your author intends to make as much time as possible for this important issue, now that several things have changed:

  • A new administration in the federal government is more favorable to climate protection and incentives for alternative energy. Limitations on carbon emissions may be forthcoming soon, but there is a time gap in which Kansas can backslide into increasing carbon emissions for the next fifty years with one or more huge coal-fired power plants.
  • A new set of bills are before the Kansas legislature to overturn the Governor’s veto.
  • Kansas will have a new Governor soon who, like Governor Sebellius, has promised to veto legislation to allow coal fired coal plants. The vote margins to overturn the veto of such bills will be very narrow.

Votes have switched, but the veto is probably still sustainable. Notable is Representative Pat Colloton changing from her previous stand against coal fired power plants (mentioned last year in our blog), but there are others as well including new legislators. Those who think that the highest priorities should include protection of future generations — and also accept the world-wide consensus of virtually every national or international scientific organization that we must reduce carbon emissions — need to understand what causes legislators to switch on this issue. We need to move beyond just sustaining a veto towards a stand that actually moves Kansas forward with wind and other alternative energy resources that both promote economic activity, reduce the risks to future generations, and promote energy independence from foreign oil.

Kansas Warming
http://www.kansaswarming.org/archives/40

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