Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Grist readers are quite familiar with the coal fight in Kansas, where Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) earned props from enviros for repeatedly vetoing (and effectively shelving) plans for new coal-fired power plants.

But the unsung hero in that battle was Roderick Bremby, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, who in October 2007 initially refused to grant a permit to Sunflower Electric Power to build the new plants on the basis of carbon dioxide emissions. It was the first rejection in the U.S. of this type, and Bremby argued at the time that “it would be irresponsible to ignore emerging information about the contribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to climate change and the potential harm to our environment and health if we do nothing.”

The Kansas coal battle was back in the news yesterday, as Sunflower is suing the state for denying their permit. Meanwhile, Bremby is out here in California for the governors’ summit, which Sebelius is co-hosting. He told Grist today that he thinks the legislative battle over this particular plant is over (even as the legal fight ramps up), and he has pushed the state to focus on a long-term plan.

“We think that the state will move on, will begin to look towards a comprehensive energy policy, and I think we’ll begin to focus on what’s important for all Kansans rather than the construction of a 1400 megawatt, coal-fired facility,” said Bremby.

Grist caught up with him for a few minutes to find out more about the matter in Kansas and the standard he set for the rest of the country.