Letters (Week of Feb. 20, 2008)


‘Unclear science’ is a clear win for lobbies

 

“The issue debated yesterday is laced with politics, unclear science and potential peril for the future of Kansas” —a quote from State Sen. Jim Barnett’s “Explanation of Vote” letter explaining his “yes” vote on the bill that passed Thursday to allow the construction of the Holcomb coal plants.

To what “unclear science” is Dr. Barnett referring? That atmospheric-borne particles of mercury from coal-fired plants return to earth with rainfall, polluting rivers and lakes, ending up in the food chain, where they pose a health hazard- in particular to pregnant women and their babies?

Maybe Senator Barnett is “unclear” about the connection between CO2 emissions and the greenhouse effect and climate change. Coal-fired electrical generation accounts for 34 percent of CO2 emissions; the Holcomb plants will emit 11 million tons of CO2 a year.

To what “potential peril for the future” is he referring? Perhaps that the use of 30,000 acres of water rights to the Ogallala Aquifer to cool the plant will speed the end of this already diminishing water source?

A potential peril could be the unplanned-for costs associated with future regulations of CO2 emissions that will be borne by the rate payers for the 50-year life of the plant.

In his letter, Sen. Barnett calls for a “comprehensive energy policy.” Shouldn’t the energy policy be developed before voting to build 1,400 megawatts of polluting, coal-fired electrical generation, especially when only 15 percent of the power is designated for Kansas?

What is very clear now is that the more than $1 million spent on advertising and lobbying in Kansas by the coal industry achieved its intended purpose. The legislative leaders have done a good job of using procedural tricks and Trojan Horse tactics to move this issue quickly to the point of veto-proof passage.

The people of Kansas deserve a better legislative process than we are getting in Topeka. Next November we should use the vote to put people in the legislature who are not so “unclear” about what is best for Kansas.

As Jim Hightower once said, “The water won’t clear until the hogs are driven out of the creek.”

Margaret Elder Bennett

and Harry E. Bennett

Marion


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