"Huge win for climate — in an unlikely place!"
“Power Plant Rejected Over Carbon Dioxide For First Time” blares the Washington Post today.
But what really makes this a “man bites dog” story is that it didn’t happen in climate-friendly California or the green Northeast:
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment yesterday became the first government agency in the United States to cite carbon dioxide emissions as the reason for rejecting an air permit for a proposed coal-fired electricity generating plant, saying that the greenhouse gas threatens public health and the environment.
Kansas, the state that never really evolved, “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.”
So who deserves the credit for this first move by Kansas toward intelligent design — of an energy system, that is?
- Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, head of the Democratic Governors Association.
- Roderick Bremby, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment
- The U.S. Supreme Court — yes, them!
By declaring CO2 a pollutant earlier this year, the Supremes set the stage for environmentally- (and morally-) conscious leaders to act:
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.
Of course, you still need an enlightened Governor, like Sebelius, who has been pushing wind power and who said in her state of the state address this year:
The question of where we get our energy is . . . no longer just an economic issue, nor solely an issue of national security. Quite simply, we have a moral obligation to be good stewards of this state.
Exactly. The article adds that Sebelius, “is believed to harbor aspirations for federal office” — let’s hope so!
And you also need an enlightened Cabinet secretary, like Bremby, who said
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.
[Note to President Bush, Bremby is calling you irresponsible.]
Kudos to the state for rejecting “a pair of big, 700-megawatt, coal-fired plants in Holcomb” that “would have produced 11 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, nearly as much as a group of eight Northeastern states hope to save by 2020 through a mandatory cap-and-trade program they plan to impose.”
The article notes: “Holcomb’s previous claim to fame had been the savage murders that Truman Capote described in his book In Cold Blood.” The Post, however, misses the irony: We just saw more killings “in cold blood” in Holcomb, but this time the deaths were sanctioned by the Supreme Court.
Let’s hope other enlightened state leaders adopt a similar strategy — a necessary holding action until we get a new president who is ready to stop traditional coal plants using national policy.