Are you polluting Kansas?

Lost in the debate over the building of a coal-fired electricity plant in Kansas is the fact that China builds a plant like this every week to ten days, according to the New York Times. Nonetheless, newspaper editorial writers like Randy Scholfield of The Wichita Eagle want to saddle Kansans with higher utility bills and a stifling regulatory structure. There is no doubt that other forms of producing electricity are more expensive than coal. Mr. Scholfield’s newspaper is full of stories of woe about how people can’t pay their bills when the price of natural gas or gasoline goes up. Yet, he is willing to ask them to pay more for something of dubious value. At the same time, his position holds the real possibility of reducing economic growth in Kansas, which should lead to more tales of woe for the Wichita Eagle to report.

Even the New York Times recognizes that wind power can’t be our sole, or even major, source of power. As it reported on February 23, 2008: “Despite the attraction of wind as a nearly pollution-free power source, it does have limitations. Though the gap is closing, electricity from wind remains costlier than that generated from fossil fuels. Moreover, wind power is intermittent and unpredictable, and the hottest days, when electricity is needed most, are usually not windy.”

Thank you to Karl Peterjohn of the Kansas Taxpayers Network for the following explanation.

Are You Polluting Kansas?
By Karl Peterjohn, Kansas Taxpayers Network

It is a biological fact that every time Governor Sebelius breathes, she exhales carbon dioxide. Every editorial writer at the carbon dioxide phobic Wichita Eagle also exhales carbon dioxide with every breath.

Are they polluting? All mammals exhale carbon dioxide and the plants that inhale carbon dioxide (CO2) need this compound to grow. This is part of the photosynthesis that is the foundation for life on earth. This is basic biology. CO2 has never been made a pollutant by the action of either the state or federal elected officials. Now the advocates of man-made global warming claim that it is. That is now Governor Sebelius’ and her staff’s official position.

Governor Sebelius’ Secretary of Health and Environment, Rod Bremby, took the arbitrary and capricious action last year of declaring CO2 a pollutant. Bremby’s decision stopped the permit, that his professional and technical KDHE staff had approved. That would have allowed a major 1.4 megawatt expansion by Sunflower Electric in Holcomb, Kansas of the existing coal fired power plant that operates there. Bremby based his denial solely upon CO2 emissions.

Bremby’s highly controversial decision made the front page of major newspapers across the United States and will have a major negative economic impact on Kansas if it stands. Bremby’s decision dramatically raised the risk for anyone planning to put a new or expanded industrial business in Kansas.

Kansas consumers are at increased risk from higher electrical costs and less reliable service. Brian Moline, a former state utility regulator and Democratic legislator, warned the Wichita Pachyderm Club February 22 that Bremby’s ruling, “…will ultimately filter down to rate payers,” in the form of higher electrical bills.

Moline also warned that this issue goes well beyond Sunflower Electric’s permit and puts the entire due process and rule of law in Kansas at risk. Moline credited state senator Carolyn McGinn with the most vivid description of this bureaucratic mugging. McGinn compared it to a driver going through an intersection and then being stopped by a police officer for not stopping for the traffic light at the intersection.

The driver complains that there was no traffic light at the intersection and the police officer says, “Well there should be one there so I’m arresting you anyway.” Sunflower Electric is the woebegone driver being arrested by Officer Bremby. All Kansans are going to be financially hurt if Bremby’s CO2 edict stands.

By declaring CO2 to be a pollutant a variety of other plants that use carbon based energy are now at legal risk. These include existing chemical, industrial, as well as the new ethanol plants that are being built or have just been built here. Airplane and auto manufacturers in Kansas as well as oil refiners and chemical plants have to renew permits to emit CO2. These are now in increased jeopardy as are all of the other coal fired power plants. Bremby’s questionable judgment in this matter is certainly amplified by his bankruptcy filing last year.

If Bremby’s CO2 edict is allowed to stand other sources of CO2 are also at risk. CO2 emissions occur well beyond industrial activities. Much of the CO2 occurs naturally. Your gas or propane furnace also emits CO2. Wood burned in fireplaces emits CO2 as do automobiles. If Governor Sebelius and her administration’s CO2 edict stands we all become polluters. New restrictions, charges, and limits on everyone using carbon based energy will soon appear under this edict.

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