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Collusion in Kansas Force-Feeds Coal Power


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21 June 2011, 1:52 PM
"This is not how government is supposed to work"

Americans are worried about their government. We imagine backroom deals are cut, fates are foretold and the little guy always gets shafted because powerful interests own the cops.

Recent events in Kansas prove these fears can be spot-on.

The Kansas City Star has unearthed emails showing the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the agency responsible for enforcing the federal Clean Air Act, had an “improper relationship” with an air permit applicant.

That permit would allow an 895 MW coal-fired power plant to be built by the Sunflower Electric Power Corporation. Opponents say this plant isn’t needed and will pollute Kansans while most of the power will go to Colorado.

The emails show that 6,000 public comments were summed up into 275 questions. KDHE sent these questions to Sunflower to get their take on how to respond to public opposition. Some of the responses KDHE produced as their own work were nearly verbatim copies of the responses suggested by Sunflower. KDHE even helped Sunflower set up a computer program to process the questions.

A Lawrence Journal World editorial today concludes that KDHE “failed miserably” at their duty to be the independent, unbiased analysis body of public concerns with the permit.

An editorial in The KC Star lays the blame for this scandal squarely at the feet of former governor Mark Parkinson, and his fellow coal advocates.

"The permit process is a shameful legacy of former Kansas governor Mark Parkinson. The Democrat reversed the refusal of his Democratic predecessor, Kathleen Sebelius, to grant a permit for a coal-burning plant in western Kansas. Sebelius and her secretary of health and environment, Roderick Bremby, said the plant would pollute Kansas air while generating most of its power for Colorado. Parkinson fired Bremby in early November after Sunflower officials said they thought he was slowing down the permit process. With Bremby gone, regulators worked nights and weekends to process Sunflower’s permit."

In response to the mess, Republican state legislators defended the agency’s collusion with an applicant as simply pro-business.

"Being cozy with business is not necessarily bad,” said Rep. Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican. “Kansas needs to be open for business. We don’t have mountains. We don’t have oceans. If we don’t allow for people to make it easy to make a profit in Kansas, there really is no reason to come here."

Sadly, Kansans are learning that even when they speak up, it may not matter if state agencies are in bed with the very industries they are supposed to regulate. The Star suggests a way out of this mess that could help restore the public’s faith in government:

"Either the courts or the EPA should put the brakes on the Sunflower project. A coal plant that will affect air quality for decades is too important to be the end result of a polluted process."

We agree. Legal steps by Earthjustice may help that process along. As described by Amanda Goodin, Earthjustice attorney representing Sierra Club in this case.

"EPA has the obligation to enforce the Clean Air Act and protect air quality and public health throughout the country; specifically, EPA has the obligation to object to permits that don’t comply with the Act, like the Sunflower permit."
 

This is disgusting but not surprising. I'm going to make some phone calls Tuesday. I don't expect to change anything but I do hope to make some people wriggle just a bit. God helpl those of us who can't buy what they want.

"Clean Coal" is an egregious LIE!
It is dirty and destructive to the areas where it is mined, *especially* when extracted using "Mountain Top Removal".
Burning coal still pumps *millions* of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
[The overwhelming scientific consensus is that these extra greenhouse gases are altering the worlds weather patterns AND acidifying the world's oceans at an unprecedented pace. The only individuals challenging this consensus are ideologically motivated know-nothings; coal, oil and natural gas corporate shills, a few legitimate scientists whose field of expertise is NOT atmospheric chemistry or atmospheric physics, and an extremely tiny minority of climate researchers who quibble about the pace of change -- not the fundamental mechanism. The ONLY reason to embrace coal, oil and natural gas is because money is more important to you than the long term health of our natural ecosystem... or future generations of humans! (Money/greed over morality!)]
There is NOT ONE utility scale "carbon capture and sequestration" (CC&S) facility in operation in the world! And regardless, CC&S requires up to 1/3 of the electricity produced to power the process... meaning that even MORE cola must be burned to generate the same amount of electricity!
At the end of the combustion cycle -- no matter how efficient -- *millions* of tons of coal ash remain. This ash is contaminated with cadmium and other heavy metals, and inevitably contaminates local ground water supplies. Current regulation of this ash is either non-existent or dangerously lax.
A pox upon those who sell their souls, their own children's futures, and your and my health for a few pieces of silver!

Superb work EarthJustice! Thank you!

RANT MODE: ON
Our priorities must be on the health and well-being of our planet because it coincides wholly with the health of our minds and bodies. We are failing as healthy humans in this country. Everything from infertility to Autism, Parkinson's disease, to obesity, to Alzheimer. These are just a few devastating diseases that are accelerating like never before. I would love to get back to basics regarding the way I live. I would love to make my own power, and have a big healthy garden too.
I refuse to bring a child into this world until everything is perfect. I guess that's the best thing I can do for my planet. :0) I completely respect those of us NOT pumping out babies. Wanting a child is a normal feeling. It's a beautiful thing. But it's also selfish. Want not, waist not. :o)

RANT MODE: OFF

Circumventing the public's health for greed must not tolerated any longer.

There's a big difference between the construction and operation of solar panels used on homes and those that are used by utilities to generate electricity. See basic information about them at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_plants_in_the_Mojave_Desert

As the link indicates, go to the Mojave Desert in California if you want to see big solar farms consisting of thousands of acres with solar troughs and other forms of solar collectors arranged in various large configurations covering acres and acres of land.

Construction is starting on some of them now. And to construct them all vegetation has to be killed with chemicals to make sure nothing grows between the rows of these panels for at least 30 years. They have to be washed frequently to keep the dust and dirt off, because they need to be pristine to generate as much energy as possible. All forms of life have to be removed from the desert in places where these plants are constructed. And these life forms will not return because of the contaminated soils. Entire acres of desert wildflowers and endangered species will be or have been killed or removed for the construction of these plants.

These are serious issues that all citizens need to be involved in because it is not only state but federal land and money that are being used to construct, operate, and subsidize these plants.

Our gov't chooses to let the planet perish and there is no will to stop this death .... the United States showed what it was intellectually capable of 50 yrs ago when they were able to do the science and physics and ACTUALLY put human beings into a little capsule and shoot them into outer space..... just ponder that for a moment.... outer space, out of the atmosphere that allowed human life to evolve... and travel in space to other the moon, walk on it....

well, you get what I'm trying to say. I heard again this afternoon on Dylan Ratigan (bless his heart) in a discussion that one Senator, Dick Durban of ILL, has said that the United States Congress is OWNED by the banks, which means Wall Street, which means the fossil fuel industry, the insurance industry, big pharma etc.

There's also a big difference between the old coal-burners and clean coal technology.
This provides some information (as well as an engineering diagram) about how the dirtiest coal-fired power station in the US is being taken offline and replaced with a gasification system. It also has information about the newer coal-burners.

The issue with the Sunflower plant is really one of water. Water will be diverted from the Ogallala aquifer and Kansas farmers for use in the power plant to generate electricity to be sold to Colorado.
Coal is just a handy dead horse to beat.

Just another reason to use the Anti Trust and Anti Monopoly laws against the Dems and Repubs! They should live within their means like the rest of us and not take money from all types of Big Business!

Make the officials who broke the law pay personally - if we don't hold them accountable they will do what they want with impunity and never give it a second thought. also come up with other alternatives for jobs or their arguments about employment will make the sheep follow them.

Pirates in suits.

Another confirmation of how much power the Koch brothers have over our elected officials. They appear to own most of them across the good ole' USA. So, these are the "people" the Supreme Court was refering to. It seems they are wholly owned and operated by the Kochs too....................democracy in action!!!

Where were you when Aquila built and installed a gas fire plant in Cass County unlawfully, without zoning?

I worked instrumentation on that plant.
This is a peaking facility, ie it only operates on load demand.
It's a gas-fired power station with the Xonon system and 3 HRSG's.
And it's not just the peaking facility at stake, but also the two exchange centers that supplied the facility and the pipeline as well.
A very poor choice.

A very poor choice to remove it, that is; if this is the plant in Peculiar that we're talking about here.

I was out buying rope.

These barons of industry are going to bull their way through any type of reason or law in the name of profit. I say get a rope.

Amen -- TX Bluebonnet and Anonymous -- Amen !!

So when are the arrest going to begin? They broke the law, right. So when are they going to be held accountable for their actions?

When the people get their paper ballots or get in the street and stay in the streets like Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria, Greece, with a strategic message - democracy not for sale to the highest bidder ie Koch Bros purchase of Right wing think tank starategies/congress then echoed into US media via right wing bloggers/tv personalities/provocateurs. Thank you Senator Bernie Sanders for the news.

KS has really gone to hell in a hand basket! Even the Dems have turned against their constituents. No $$ to be made there!

Follow the money. You may be able to incarcerate some corrupt officials.

Well, now. Kansas needs the business. OK. Try wind. Try solar. You have plenty of both.

Don't think that is your best argument, Mssrs. (short for "messers") Schwab and Parkinson. And besides, the construction crews on these plants, like the oil field workers in the shale regions of the country, are brought in from outside your area, stay a few years, and then leave. And then precious few permanent jobs are left for locals, along with a trashed environment and continuously polluted air and water, while millions of dollars leaves the state to be deposited into the bank accounts of these corporations and their executives for generous (and scandalous) bonuses for a job well done, but not really for Kansas.

Wonder what kind of "business dealings" would show up if someone were to open and study some campaign contributions, lists of friends phone numbers, and certain hidden finance records wherever they are. They might find that what some politicians think Kansas needs (at least its officials need) are a few bribes to jump start your "coal-based" betrayal of your public duty to act in the interests of your citizens' public health and environment. Oh, excuse me. It's not called "bribes" anymore. Or have we totally forgotten what a "bribe" is, and what "bribery" is??? Federal crimes, I think. Where's the prosecutor????

Oh, sorry. Times have changed, as the saying goes. Now it is called (thanks to the decision of our current Supreme Court) "unlimited campaign contributions" of a "person" named "Sunflower Electric Power Corporation".

Notice how they always choose nice, nature-loving sounding names for these "dirty" operations--in more than one sense of the word? In Corpus Christi, Texas we have "Las Brisas: The Breezes" referring to the Gulf breezes while the plant will raise pollution of that city and its waters by 85%; and we have proposed near Bay City, Texas (also a coastal, hurricane prone city) the "White Stallion" plant--attempting to appeal to the ranchers of South Texas.

Little do they know that these ranchers (and the doctors who care for them and their families) recognize a "dog and pony show" when it is trotted out. No one wants these plants in these cities either. But famous old "Rick" our Aggie Governor also plays ball with these "persons" called coal-based energy corporations toting millions to his faith-based collection plate, and instructs his Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to pass out permits for dollars as fast as they can, then runs around the US preparing a pitch for the (horror of horrors) office of President by bragging about how good he has been for "bidness" in Texas. Rick Perry has been anything but good for Texas. Just look at where we stand in national rankings for povery rates, childhood survival rates, medical care for our people and above all, educational success in our public schools. Woeful record.

Ah, yes. Business, indeed--doing business by racking up lots of donations for their own campaign coffers and other bank accounts. Why is it that these "sell-out-your-people-and- your-state's environment-for-money" politicians call this "good for state business" when what they are really doing us building a future of costly cleanup of toxic waste sites, ruining good agricultural soil that generations have carefully stewarded, polluting the air we breathe and water we should be able to drink, and increasing deadly diseases in our children and adults that will add millions to their medical costs and that of the state?

Because they know that, as their PR people tell them, if you tell a lie often enough, and put your smiling face on TV enough, enough people will begin to think it is true and you are a nice guy--even if they know it is a lie and you really are a crook living in a $10,000 a month mansion while the Governor's Mansion, gutted by a fire set by a mysterious, yet to be identified arsonist, is being restored at a turtle-slow pace. (It didn't have enough room for the necessary large gatherings to prepare for his presidential run, probably).

That's the scary part, when these politicians do not know the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie, and neither do the voters who elect them. Or they know when they are telling a lie, but they just don't care anymore, because they have no conscience left, anyway. We had better wake up and learn how to tell the difference bewtween these folks and an honest publc servant when we vote. And it won't be by watching TV commercials and spots.

It will be by doing our civic homework and getting to really know their record, and most of all, who their friends and campaign donors are.

If the Kansas politicians think that permitting a dirty coal plant is doing business in Kansas, seems to me that the people of Kansas, like the people of Texas, need to sweep their statehouses clean of those who take bribes and start over by filling their chairs with honest public servants who tell the truth and do what is best for the real people, not the corporate "persons". Maybe then, there can be a rebirth of the middle class everywhere in this country, with real businesses run by real people breathing clean air, clean water and farming clean, healthy soil.

The only good thing about the thought of Rick Perry as President is that he would not be Governor of Texas anymore, and that would be really good for business, and education, and healthcare and our poverty rates in Texas. But unfortunately, it would be disaster for the USA. And that is telling the truth. Think about that, please, Kansas.

Your long statement clearly is based upon facts and logic. This sort of thing doesn't play well to people who base their decisions upon belief, sound bites, pandering, etc. The people of Kansas elected these people. They are getting what they wanted. To me, and obviously you, this scenario is tragic. For the benefit of some fat cats, Kansas and surrounding areas will be trashed.

Maybe someday, people will realize that their votes count. For now, they are getting what they elected. I live in a pristine area of New York state where the lakes around here contain water that is fit to drink without filtering, purification, or chemicals. Big oil wants to trash our environment with their secret chemicals, hidden accidents, etc. to retrieve natural gas by hydrofracking. At least we are fighting to keep them out, but it's not clear that the citizens can defeat the bribed politicians!

Let us hope. Meanwhile, by by Kansas.

I also live in the pristine part of NY, where you can drink unfiltered water straight from the lakes. It's wonderful. This fracking business is not over by a long shot, in fact I would venture to say that it is inevitably coming this way. I don't trust Coumo at all. I congratulate him for getting the Marriage Equality act passed. What an accomplishment. But like Kansas, where they fought a long drawn out battle against the coal plant and lost, our battle is not over yet. We need to be vigilant, vocal and unified in our opposition to the industry. They are so crooked and deceitful! It makes me sick! Does fracking really have to use such dangerous chemicals?

Well said! Thank you for putting that so succinctly. I hope the people of Kansas take serious action about this.

"BRAVO" Thanks for laying it on the line. The thing is most of us know this but can do little about it, because of the millions that have swallowed the bill of goods that a lot of these politicians are selling, Hook Line and Sinker. And it sure doesn't help when these politicians break the laws of this land and it's treated as an " Oh Well" Come on, the laws are there for everyone and people like this should be held to a higher degree of obeying the law. So why aren't they being arrested and prosecuted? This whole situation sounds like collution. I'm sick of our officials just doing what ever they want. I want them ALL, that have broken our laws to be arrested, prosecuted, sentenced ( and serve time)And loose their jobs and never allowed to hold office of any kind ever again.

I was going to make a comment but you said it all.

Here, Here!! Couldn't have said it any better!!

I came here thanks to an Earthjustice "alert."
Right, you have a small agency completely under assault by multimillion-dollar Green global warmist fetishists, pumping out stacks of boilerplate accusations. Staff is completely overwhelmed by the avalanche of paper.
On the other side, you have a company that has plenty of experience answering the usual Green boilerplate...never mind that they have seen it all before and most questions have a straightforward answer -- or have been asked and answered elsewhere.
So the KC Star says it's not okay for Sunflower to see the "evidence" until when, after the permit is denied, or in the post permit appeals process?
Aren't accused criminals allowed to see the evidence against them? But not the powerplant company?
The Star has done readers a complete disservice. You should be reporting on who is funding the plant opponents and what THEIR incentives happen to be. That's fully half of the story which the Star seems bent to ignore -- at everyone's peril. Shame on you.

Dave Skinner...you seem to be missing the point. It matters not who "sees the evidence first"...there should not even be any consideration for any coal plants by any power plant company to begin with. People are dying of cancer, increased asthma rates among children, and other respiratory disease. The US. has got to get out from dirty energy and catch up with all the countries that have adopted Kyoto Protocol, putting investments into clean technologies. The U.S. may have the "highest survival rate of cancer" but it also has among the highest rates of cancer to begin with. Big vicious cycle driving healthcare cost up, rather than focused attention on prevention in the first place. The plant opponents are not the ones with "funding" usually behind the motive...in fact many environmental health efforts have NO financial incentive what-so-ever, just humanitarian. As someone with an MBA and over 20 years corporate experience, I see its typically the corporations profiteering from pollution causing industry which does nothing for our economy as a whole. Ditto for the over bloated MIC, a big culprit in bringing the freedoms, security, and environmental justice of the USA down. An ironic but inconvenient truth. Over proliferation of War and weapons do not "serve our nation" any more than these fossil fueled foolish industries do. If you or anyone want to continue to believe otherwise, I'll sell you some swamp land in Florida. Amen.

the post is confusing. First, you are comparing the rights of criminals to power plant operators? so implicitly anything that power plant operators. yes there is nothing wrong with Sunflower seeing the evidence against them until the post permit appeals process. you also have a commission that is supposed to look at power plant permits from all sides and not just be in the pocket of the power plant companies. The Star has done a great service showing how bankrupt the power plant permitting procedures are in Kansas

the post is confusing. First, you are comparing the rights of criminals to power plant operators? so implicitly anything that power plant operators. yes there is nothing wrong with Sunflower seeing the evidence against them until the post permit appeals process. you also have a commission that is supposed to look at power plant permits from all sides and not just be in the pocket of the power plant companies. The Star has done a great service showing how bankrupt the power plant permitting procedures are in Kansas

Environmentalists are inconsistent in their approaches to dealing with the construction and operation of electricity-generating plants owned by utilities or other entities that contract with utilities for selling power. For example, coal is bad but solar is wonderful. Both have environmental consequences that can be quite harmful.

What makes big-time solar so insidious is that its environmental consequences are never discussed or even understood by the public, many of whom think solar energy is "free" because it comes from the sun. And the public has no idea the amount of chemicals, water, and other dangerous substances used by these big plants--chemicals that render the land consisting of thousands and thousands of acres useless long after the plant has outlived its usefulness.

For example, the chemicals used on solar plants to clear the land kill every living creature who calls the land home. In addition, they use hundreds of gallons of water a day to clean the mirrors, among other uses, and once they've outlived their usefulness, the land they occupy is too hazardous to use. And to dismantle the plant is considered hazardous to those who do it.

What I am saying is an environmental anathema, but environmental organizations ought to be pushing the government to allow solar panels on rooftops of very house who gets enough sunlight to create a reasonable amount of energy to justify the cost and require local electrical companies to use that energy to reduce customers' bills. In areas where there isn't enough sun to make solar profitable, environmental groups should be pushing for more local control of energy production so that people can have more influence on how they receive their energy. It is the organization of big utility companies and their coziness with the agencies that regulate them as well as the politicians that cause the creation of big plants in states with less stringent and allow the energy to be sold outside the state.

That happens all the time. Most people don't even know where their energy comes from.

Same thing is happening in water. But most environmentalist groups have yet to make a big deal out of that.

How can the ordinary "per diem" citizen know, or more importantly, concern themselves with such abstract concepts. Their's is a day-to-day struggle for a societally acceptable existance. Society has effectively been manipulated into one of "divided we fall."
It is an almost certainty that it is too late, we are totally in the hands (pockets?) of big business/ industrial complex/ Wall Street. "They" know we lack the cohesiveness and/or the financial means to oppose them. We are divided and pitted against each other by our individual and immediate needs. None of us, the everyday working, necessarily self-absorbed stiff, could last more than a month if and/or when they "put the hammer down," as in, "nail-in-the-coffin!" President Eisenhower tried to warn us of this scenario back in the late 1950's.
At our peril we ignored it, and thus we, the unheard, unseen, and more significantly... now (at least individually) unimportant peons, have been bought and sold to the highest bidder regarding our lives, our future, and the environment (i.e. the lives of our children, and their children, and ultimately the viability and survivability of our planet and all that breathes the same air we do.)
That is unless some tramautic, perhaps (probably!)even un-thinkable, societal revolution(?)re-aligns the priorities, and the paradigm of how a society must operate so as to assure that all citizens have a just and equitable share, and voice, in how our finite world resources are utilized for the betterment and continuance of mankind. And in all probability, this "shift" will come at such a cost as to "snuff out" any semblance of civilization as we imagine it to be.
What flashes before my eyes is the futuristic and outrageous ciivilization of "Baron" Harkonin in the sci-fi "DUNE," and any number of equally unacceptable film scenarios where a few industrial megasystems consume, over-run, and literally cover the earth with their super factories.
Oh yes, doomsday prophesies are all too much a common denominator, and only such measures as "political term-limits," and Draconian punishments for corporate and/or political malfiesance, will at least allow for the chance of wresting our future back from the insulated and corrupt (twisted) mega-manipulators. The rise (and fall) of all previous "societies," Greece, Rome, Ming, Mayan, etc. all suffered the same scenarios as we are facing.... except that "we" have at out hands the power of "world-enders."
Do not for even a nano-second (in the nuclear age, a moment is too long) think that a "maligned society," whether ethnic, religious, or otherwise "oppressed," who owns, has access, or can somehow gain access to such weapons, would hesitate ultimately to employ those in a final and futile attempt to shift events in their favor.
And only those whose deep pockets have "afforded" themselves with a measure(albeit fleeting moments in cosmic terms) of protection against such world changing events by building fenced-in, electrified, thick-walled, panic-roomed mansions, Lear jets, armoured Limos, buried bunkers, private armies guarding island villas, and such, will survive....temporarily.
In a world rapidly approaching what is certainly "perceived" by many as a finite end of vital resources, such extreme, violent, attempts will become ever more common.
"Our" power to avert this catastrophy is puny. We, the average citizen, cannot "afford" to install enough solar panels on our homes, or erect enough wind turbines,(financially, or legally)to make any impact of this course of events. Hell, I bankrupted myself installing tankless water heaters and high efficiency windows. My electric bill, and other utilities are all but ruining me. Food? Fuel?
Yet, I am railing against the RAPE of Pennsylvania's natural gas supplies by All of those unscrupulous energy conglomerates,and LLC's who believe they have the right to take what they want regardless of the future consequences. They have the power, the money, the lawyers, the politicians, so therefore they have the right????? We will need those resources, all of them, and others not yet dreamed of, but not for the benefits of a few powerful SOBs to the detriment all others.
"Your water supply has become contaminated because of methane seepage, or other carcinogens???? We'll just pay you off so you wouldn't join a class action suit against us, to hell with your neighbors! Not your problem."
"Clean up the mess we left behind, sorry, we're an LLc and have gone out of business, let the government fix things for you."
Wham! Bam! We don't give a damned! About you (or me!), about the environment, and certainly not about the future of human society, or the planet itself.
We are lost!

environmental groups are trying to increase solar in a decentralized form as you suggest.. you would be surprised as to how utilities continues to oppose what you suggest.. your post shows your ignorance of the environmental movement and what they are doing

I am quite aware of how utilities oppose decentralized solar. I've worked with them (not for them, but with them) for years. I am intimately familiar with how they work as well as their economic structure and great political power they bring to bear on the government.

However, environmentalists have put themselves in a bind by advocating big-scale solar projects without assessing or dealing with the incredible environmental damage they cause. Without huge governmental subsidies, like thousands of acres of free land (Mojave Desert) and millions of dollars in ARRA stimulus money (whether they're built or not) those solar plants would never have been approved for building.

Yet, environmental groups came out in droves to support them because they were "solar."

Big utilities also opposed these big solar plants because they are usually located in areas that have no transmission lines. And to deliver the energy at such great distances means much is lost in the transmission, so the plants have to be bigger to account for the loss as well as to "compete" with the same amount of energy than can be created by a gas-fired plant that can be built on two acres.

Utilities are also required to purchase the energy produced by those solar plants, which is going to result in a significant increase in rates over time.

There is no way to sustain our current system of energy distribution, no matter what form it takes, without resulting in environmental damage. However, when it comes to solar, all the damage done to the environment is not assessed nor accounted for, generally because environmentalists are focused on the reduction of greenhouse gases.

The largest amount of greenhouse gases come from vehicles, however.

While it is not an easy thing to do, environmentalists would be doing a great service for the environment by advocating for solar panels on homes and encouraging legislators to require utilities to purchase power generated by home-installed solar panels, thus reducing the cost of energy to homeowners and cutting down on the number of plants needed to be built.

Environmentalists also need to take into account that the costs of building big solar plants like those approved for the Mojave Desert are significant and would not have been considered if the government didn't provide free land and other subsidies in the billions of dollars. And, interestingly enough, those that could afford to construct and operate the plants were multinational consortiums while the plants were being advertised as good for small business.

Although big investor-owned utilities have their problems, they are not stupid when it comes to spending money. If big thousand acre solar plants were efficient, they would have built them themselves. The utilities are not going to willingly buy energy from panels on homeowners' roofs. But, governments can make them do so, thereby cutting down on the need for the utilities to construct and operate more plants and also taking advantage of the great power of the sun in the most economical way possible.

You bring up many good points for discussion. Thanks.

Yes there are always drawbacks to every form of energy we use. Certainly there was and is a great deal of focus on nuclear energy after Chernobyl and then again just recently in Japan. Natural Gas has come under fire due to the deleterious aspects and effects of fracking; as has oil in general after the Gulf fiasco.
I love solar power in many ways but you are correct in raising your concerns about it. I'm glad you did. These are valid concerns that need to be examined and rectified as solar energy becomes smaller; more efficient and less demanding on the environment.
My major concern with coal is not the actual plant itself; we have technology and have had it for over forty years; that will reduce coal emissions to almost zero. My concern is with the way coal is mined. Mountain top mining is just as hazardous and destructive to the environment as those other forms of energy mentioned above. Surely there has to be a way that we can get what is necessary without complete environmental destruction.
Then again the real hope is perhaps the harnessing of universal scalar wave energy? Even then there are bound to be drawbacks.

I think this reader has mixed up solar energy with the herbicide roundup and GMO crops. It's roundup that kills everything and GMO crops that renders life as we know it useless for eternity.

Just kidding but I have had solar panels on my roof for 6 years. I have never washed them and in fact have never been up on my roof to look at them. And yet they keep pumping out energy and have cut my electric bill in half.

The reason no one makes a big deal out of the consequences of solar farms is that there probably aren't any. If there were, then big coal would have ads on TV telling us.

There are a lot of Tea Party members in KS, right? So maybe they should remember exactly what it was that happened during the original Tea Party. Citizens banded together in the dead of night, disguised themselves as Indians, and destroyed corporate property.
Not a suggestion, just a history refresher.

Just another rape of the environment. The gas companies are doing the same thing in Pennsylvania over the Marcellus shale.

Saddened to say we live downwind from Kansas ... so this affects us too. In fact, we live downwind from much of the USA and certainly from lots and lots of coal fired power plants. It shows. We're a clean state in general (Maine) but our air quality suffers mightily during the summer ... sometimes complete with air health warnings and smog. It ain't coming from us! So this affects a good part of America and we all need to be heard. Kansas isn't so bloody important that they have the right to pollute the air for other states. We're all in this together! And we all need to work for the best solutions for ALL of us. Join "Rebuild the Dream" to be heard.

Rebuild The Dream! Hear Hear!

Right on, River Rat. I too live in Maine and I know about the polluted air wafting across the country to hover above my home, and the rest of the Eastern seaboard. I've know this for some time, but never seem to find an answer to the Q of what to DO about it. A class action suit, maybe? Or, as someone posted -- we dress in costume (this time possibly as Little Green "Men" [sic]) and destroy industrial instrastructures. Sign me up. We ARE all in this together -- that is, except for the plutocrats. Why are they getting away this these outrages against humanity?

...and I forgot to second your suggestion to join "REBUILD THE DREAM". YES.

A thorn in their sides-emailing calling.

When it comes to our environment, our health, and our children's future survival, the criminals own the cops. In this case, the energy industry bought the sate government - plain and simple - making the cops into criminals. Let's hope smart Kansans wake from their red state stupor and throw out the corporate crooks masquerading as "job creators" in favor of real leadership. Of course the coal cartel tells us the only jobs we can create are in coal mines or coal fired power plants. Wake up, stand up and be counted or watch your world go up in flames...

As a former Kansan, born in Linn County in 1924, I have never regretted leaving the place. We left during the dust storms of the 30's and have never been sorry as fields were plowed into flour-like dust which choked us as we sat in our classrooms. Our parents, who were born and raised in Kansas, knew it was time to move....which we did to the clean air and fresh water of Oregon. We all "made good" as college graduates and healthy happy Oregonians. Who would be silly enough to trade that for cheap electricity which, through poor health conditions will cost the state far more than can ever be made up by cheap energy, especially when there are alternatives. The rich continue to get richer on the backs and bad health of the less affluent.

Now, the crooks are further polluting the atmosphere and poor folks like we were in the 30's cannot afford to move so they and their children live and die in the smog of a coal-fired plant so that those crooks can further line their pockets with the coughs and black spittle of children born into a dangerous atmosphere.
Can't someone in the whole state of Kansas do something to prevent the disaster.

This strong spate of comments/responses is about as heartening as I've seen in a while. Heartening, along with the frustration and anger this story itself arouses.

EARTHJUSTICE: What action can someone in California, for example, help with? An urging message to some Kansas person or entity?

Kansans should compel the power company and the government to use all of the funds that were needed to build the power plant and force them to put solar panels on as many houses as possible. Whenever there is a request for a rate increase make the "powers that be" focus on solar power.

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