The fight over coal in Kansas is headed to a climactic battle on Wednesday, when the legislature gathers to finish its session. Twice it has sent bills to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that would allow two blocked dirty coal plants to move forward; twice she has vetoed.
The game on Wed. is for pro-coal legislators to scare up enough votes to override the veto.
There’s a good rundown on the action in the Kansas City Star, which includes this laugh-out-loud quote:
“We’re not Enron,” said Sunflower spokesman Steve Miller. “We’re just a bunch of farmers … trying to keep the lights on out here in western Kansas.”
Well shucks, Jeb, I reckon them big city fellas’re plum confused!
See also this story in the Witchita Eagle, which describes how construction costs on the two proposed plants — and proposed plants across the country — have risen up to 200 percent in recent years. It’s Kansas ratepayers who are going to get soaked for that money, though. Why should the utility care?
Speaking of rate hikes, don’t miss this AP story on how the rising cost of coal is hitting ratepayers where it hurts:
Facing such steep price increases, utilities nationwide are raising rates and are likely to push for even more dramatic increases in electric rates in the coming months. In parts of coal-dependent West Virginia, for instance, electricity rates will rise 15 percent this year. That’s one of the biggest increases in American Electric’s history, a rate hike the company attributes largely to rising coal costs.
West Virginia is far from alone. In Kentucky, which like West Virginia gets more than 90 percent of its electricity from coal, the four biggest utilities have raised rates an average of 12 percent over the past 12 months, according to the Kentucky Public Service Commission.
But I thought coal was cheap!
And finally, witness Rod Bremby, the heroic Health and Environment Secretary in Kansas who originally denied the permits, defend his actions. Compare his erudition and sense of duty to that of his critics. You can tell who is on history’s side.