Price of Media Warm-mongering: Kansas Denies Coal-fired Power Plant License

On Thursday, for the first time in American history, a state denied an electricity producer a construction license for a coal-fired power plant due to manmade global warming fears. As ominously reported by the New York Times Saturday (emphasis added):

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Thursday turned down a permit for twin 700-megawatt coal-fired generators that a group of electric cooperatives is seeking to build near Holcomb in southwest Kansas. The ownership and the electricity would be shared by 67 cooperatives in Kansas and neighboring states.

The department's staff had recommended issuing the air quality permits, but Roderick L. Bremby, the secretary of the department, said in a statement, "I believe 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."

As the Washington Post reported Friday, this decision has disturbing national implications (emphasis added):

The decision marks a victory for environmental groups that are fighting proposals for new coal-fired plants around the country. It may be the first of a series of similar state actions inspired by a Supreme Court decision in April that asserted that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide should be considered pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

[...]

The proposed Holcomb plants had become the center of a political dispute in Kansas, inflaming traditional tensions between the eastern and western parts of the state, dividing labor unions and posing a test for the energy policies of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is head of the Democratic Governors Association and is believed to harbor aspirations for federal office.

Kansas, long a conservative Republican stronghold, is not generally considered to be on the leading edge of environmental causes. The GOP leadership in both the state Senate and House of Representatives endorsed the project. Although the regional United Steelworkers union opposed the plant, the state AFL-CIO supported it.

"Now the Sebelius administration rockets to the forefront of the states [working] to solve the global warming crisis," said Bruce Nilles, a Sierra Club lawyer.

As is typical, the warm-mongers totally ignored the economic side of the argument:

The plants' powerful supporters included the speaker of the state House, Melvin Neufeld, who had earlier gathered the signatures of 46 GOP members, including key committee chairmen, for a letter to Bremby. The letter said, "Without your approval of the permit as proposed by Sunflower, our state and its citizens will lose access to the low-cost energy source and millions in economic development." Thirty-one Republican House members declined to sign the letter.

Neufeld said the plants would bring in new tax revenue, create hundreds of jobs, prompt the expansion of transmission lines that could also be used for wind power and keep energy costs low for Kansans by producing enough power to export to other states.

This issue has already had a political fallout that few media outlets bothered to share. See if you can identify why this Associated Press report from Thursday went largely uncovered outside of Kansas:

A Democratic Party official says he's resigning his position in disgust over the state's rejection of a permit for two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas.

Lon Wartman was Finney County's Democratic Party chairman.

[...]

Wartman resigned in an angry e-mail, calling the state leaders of his own party "despicable."

Any question as to why this side of the story went virtually ignored?

Regardless of the answer, Americans on both sides of the manmade global warming debate should be concerned about this decision in Kansas.

Sure, the warm-mongers are celebrating a political victory. However, as environmental groups in the past two decades scared Americans away from nuclear power, the country moved to coal. Certainly, no one believes the Democrats currently in power are going to shift back to nuclear.

As such, if we begin preventing the creation of coal-fired plants, and continue eschewing nuclear facilities, how are Americans going to power their homes, offices, warehouses, and stores? This should be an even greater concern in our current global economy, for China and India aren't worried about such environmental issues.

Those losing sleep over the exportation of manufacturing jobs, as well as the already unfair economic and trade advantages these two growing behemoths enjoy, should be totally insomniac over the thought of China and India expanding their electricity production unfettered by carbon emissions concerns while America's output declines due to global warming fears.

Unfortunately, most warm-mongers aren't bothered by this; those that are foolishly believe the answer lies in wind and solar power. Yet, as evidenced by "not in my backyard" protests over Cape Cod's wind-farm - in one of the most liberal parts of the nation no less! - those hoping turbines are the answer are quite literally tilting at windmills.

If they're not, maybe every time a coal-fired power plant's license for construction is rejected for the absurd reason of cutting carbon emissions, a license for a wind-farm that will generate the same number of kilowatts MUST be approved.

Barring this, it seems a metaphysical certitude that electricity production in America is destined to not keep up with the needs and demands of the population. As a result, costs will rise, as will inflation and unemployment, and America, which used to be the largest economic power on the planet, might see its financial might crash like a Silicon Valley power grid on a 100 degree-day in August.

With that dreary image in our heads, folks on both sides of this debate need to recognize that the current media hysteria concerning global warming has reached a similar outlandish excess as the No Nukes movement before it, and that this decision in Kansas is "The China Syndrome" and Three Mile Island all over again.

Are we going to learn from recent history of just 28 years ago, and not establish energy policy out of fear of the unknown? Or, are we going to once again let an hysterical media scare us into decisions that could doom our country economically just a few years before baby boomers begin retiring?

Think about it: the first baby boomer has already applied for Social Security benefits (h/t NBer Nof). As such retirements escalate, the financial demands on our government - from Social Security to Medicare - are going to literally explode.

If the cost of electricity is similarly exploding at the same time, the economic ramifications could be disastrous.

With oil hitting $90 last week, can America really afford an energy policy based in hysteria?

Those interested in more on this decision should watch this video from WIBW-TV in Kansas.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.