Apparently a lot.
The Senate Utilities Committee today passed a stripped-down energy bill allowing expansion of a coal-fired power plant in western Kansas but removing proposed regulations on carbon dioxide emissions.
The bill would allow Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build two additions to the coal-fired plant in Finney County. Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Rod Bremby in October denied an air-quality permit for the $3.5 billion project.
The proposal had included limits on CO2 emissions and a $3-per-ton “carbon tax” for surpassing those limits. Some senators worried Kansas’ business comunity could be hurt by becoming the first state to pass such regulations.
“It creates Kansas as an island in the nation,” said Sen. Mark Taddiken, R-Clifton. “We would be the only folks doing this and what does that do to our future and our economy?”
So let me get this straight, the concern is that a $3/ton tax (which, by the way, most experts would call a laughably small price on carbon) would hurt businesses and the future of Kansans? But investment in coal plants that are the worst emitting source of greenhouse gases and would likely be running until the Midwest could, indeed, become an island is wise for the long-term economic and health interests of the community?
Apparently, Kansas has no issue being a trend-setter when it comes to (not) teaching evolution in schools, but having the courage to make at least a half-hearted stand on global warming is just too much. On second thought, perhaps these two things are not disassociated.
Particularly interesting are some of the comments posted in response to the article:
“Thank you Republican leadership. Finally we’re getting some positive action instead of letting the minority of liberal tree hugging anti American liberals dictate negative policy for Kansas as has been happening here for the past 4 years. Coal is King and we should embrace energy independence. The technology is there to make our plants environmentally friendly.
The Church of Climatology and their Prophet Al Gore will have you believe that we are the only ones polluting. The Goremons want us to give up our standard of living for the sake of the environment as they see it. Of course, their prophet has a huge carbon footprint. Just another dangerous cult.”
Interesting take on what constitutes standard of living. And ignorance of the huge government subsidies that make coal and other fossil fuels seem so cost-effective in comparison to renewables.
“We need coal fired power plants. Are you willing to curtail your use of electricity. Most people are not. Using natural gas is too expensive. The lower and middle classes would not be able to afford it. As far as Wind Power, it is a good addition but it will never be able to replace coal fired power plants.”
Both these views of “standard of living” and cost fail to account for the long-term and indirect. I suppose these are just too complex for some people to consider. I’m not trying to pick on Kansas here, just struck by the continued lack of clarity, political courage and understanding of the true costs and benefits we’re dealing with here.