Wichita Eagle, Opinion Page, Sunday 10 May 2009
Is this a case of "We have met the enemy and he is us"?
For any potential it offers, Gov. Mark Parkinson's coal-plant deal appears to be an act of political expediency in the face of political extortion. I fear it sacrifices policy in the public interest to appease those seeking to achieve their own ends. At the very least, it is simply conducting Sunflower Electric Power Corp.' s resource planning on public time.
One of these definitions of the word "compromise" is not like the others:
• An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions; an ability to listen to two sides in a dispute and devise a compromise acceptable to both.
• A middle state between conflicting opinions or actions reached by mutual concession or modification.
• The acceptance of standards that are lower than desirable.
Can you tell which one it is?
The same governor who called upon us to stand up against what he called bad policy and dishonest brokering has brokered his own back-room deal and called upon us to "step aside" so that special interests can achieve their goals. This is presented as a "compromise," but the only people involved in the terms of the deal were Sunflower Electric and its allies. Those of us advocating open and accountable government -- and truly comprehensive energy policy that maximizes our state's renewable energy resources -- were locked out and misinformed.
At the end of the day, this deal looks a lot more like capitulation and coercion than it does compromise.
In exchange for decent net-metering (though not for rural co-op customers) and 180 megawatts of wind-energy capacity (not even production) that already was planned, the governor asks Kansans to trade:
• 900 megawatts of unnecessary coal-fired power generation.
• Constraint of the powers of the agency charged with protecting our health and environment.
• Decreased oversight of electric co-ops.
• A huge economic, pollution and carbon liability.
• Nonexistent or unproven technology.
• Transmission to send fossil fuel energy west, instead of lines east to our wind-energy markets.
• One of the weakest renewable-energy standards in the region.
• Unspecified, limited energy-efficiency standards applied only to government buildings.
The "renewable-energy gains" are a good place to start a responsible comprehensive-energy policy. But they are hardly where Kansas -- with our abundant renewable-energy resources -- would hope to end up after years of wrangling with the issues, and especially given the current economic and energy priorities of the nation. And they do not even begin to "offset," "mitigate" or "reduce" the costs of carbon emissions from the plant as suggested.
Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.