The fight over coal plants in Kansas has taken another turn. State legislators have introduced a new law that they say is "fair to both sides."

That characterization could not be more comical.

First of all, the bill was crafted in secret by four legislators who are members of the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority and support building the coal plants. No environmentalists were invited to the table, but the plants developer, Sunflower Electric Power, "had input into the legislation." Nice.

The bill would allow the plants to be built with some weak restrictions on CO2 emissions: "the new plant would have to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent within one year and an additional 10 percent within 10 years." Worse yet, the plants would be permitted to emit more "in exchange for investing in renewable energy, conservation or new, more eco-friendly technologies." And if the plant couldn’t meet even that pathetic standard, it would "pay a carbon tax of $3 per ton of carbon dioxide."

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!

Three dollars a f*cking ton? Are you serious? To call that a "pittance" is to flatter it. This basically amounts to a utterly softball CO2 standard with a grotesquely cheap and easy safety valve.

But that’s not all. Inside the bill is another poison pill:

The most significant portions [of the bill] would make it more difficult for regulators to reject plants …

The bill would rewrite state law to say the Secretary of Health and Environment can’t hold utilities to a standard higher than the Federal Clean Air Act unless he has legislative approval first.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

That would take away the discretion Bremby used to reject the Sunflower plant expansion last year. Missouri already precludes regulators from going beyond federal law.

Make no mistake: this would open the door to a run of new coal plants in Kansas and any other state that followed their lead. Coal plants are racing to build plants before the EPA regulates CO2 under the Clean Air Act, which the Bush administration is delaying on with all its might.

You want to know what these legislators really think? This says it all:

The bill, if made law, would also give Sunflower 60 days to ask Bremby to reconsider its earlier rejection. Bremby would then have 15 days to issue a new decision.

“And this time he better have a good reason (if he rejects the plan),” said Sen. Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican who chairs the Senate Utilities Committee.

To these guys, global warming is not a “good reason” to do anything, certainly not anything the keeps dirty energy dollars out of the state.

I will be shocked if Sebelius signs this. If she does, she deserves every bit of the sh*tstorm that will come her way.