For Immediate Release October 1, 2007
HOUSE REPUBLICANS IGNORE GLOBAL WARMING THREAT TO
KANSAS AND BENEFITS OF WIND POWER
On September 26, a group of 40 Kansas State House Republicans sent a letter urging that KDHE Secretary Roderick Bremby approve the permit for Sunflower Electric's Holcomb coal plant expansion. The primary basis of this request was the purported economic benefits of the project to Kansas and the suggestion that there would be no environmental impacts.
Global warming was not mentioned.
The Sierra Club strongly disagrees. The Holcomb expansion would be one of the nation's largest new sources of carbon dioxide heat trapping gases. Global warming is expected to intensify drought and loss of soil moisture in western Kansas and cause more intense weather events throughout the state. Increased drought and loss of soil moisture will, in turn, accelerate the drawdown of the Ogallala aquifer.
On Kansas Public Radio news on September 25, Lt. Governor Mark Parkinson said that the Holcomb expansion, far from facilitating the export of the state's bountiful wind energy, would actually inhibit the state's wind industry. That's because, once built, this massive coal plant will blanket the power market in the region for many years.
As for economic benefits, electricity rates will increase sharply because of:
-- the spiraling cost of building new coal plants,
-- the increasing price of coal and the diesel fuel to transport coal from Wyoming,
-- the looming cost of carbon dioxide regulation by Congress.
Far from benefiting the region, the project would hitch the region's economy to an obsolete technology for the next 50-75 years. Further, any direct benefits from the Holcomb project would be concentrated in a small part of the state, while the benefits of a power system based on wind power would be spread much more widely.
At the September 26 session of the Kansas Renewable Energy Conference, a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of Golden Colorado was presented that identified total benefits to Kansas of $7.8 billion including 23,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs if the nation went to a 20% penetration for wind power.
Finally, the group of 40 House Republicans urged project opponents to carefully review the permit application instead of relying on "hearsay and rumors," and by doing so they would learn about Sunflower's proposed bio-energy center. The Sierra Club hired experts to carefully examine the permit application, and they identified numerous deficiencies. We also found that Sunflower's experimental bio-energy center was not included in the application.
For more information contact
Craig Volland at 913-334-0556, or
Bill Griffith at 913-702-4611