Thursday, May 8, 2008

Massive props to Rep. Josh Svaty (D-Ellsworth)

Rep. Josh Svaty has penned a brilliant piece, outlining his opposition to the Holcomb bill. Rep. Svaty says it better than we could ever dream of saying it, so we'll just let his words speak for themselves. Tip of the hat to Peg at It's kind of long, but if this is an issue you are passionate about, it's well worth the read.

I am not opposed to coal. I want to see baseload generation built in Southwest Kansas. I do not take my orders from the Governor.

I have tried to avoid the discussion of coal, but this is truly what this session has become, and it deserves a great deal of attention. I want to start by saying this: I have never been more proud of the area I represent than at times like this. These past few weeks have been very difficult – I have been called names, my wife has been drug in to my issues, and we have received many very forceful comments from individuals. I am proud to say that none of those comments have come from this district. I know from your comments that many of you agree with me, and some of you do not. However, those of you that do not have been very respectful in your approach, and I cannot extend to you enough gratitude. Thank you.

I reiterate the points I made earlier – I am not opposed to coal and I recognize the role it will have to play as we transition to the future. However, as this session opened it became apparent that there was to be no compromising in terms of what the final legislation would look like. Hearings were rushed, amendments were pre-drafted and approved by a committee to which no one was publicly appointed. I made my stand; I tried to have them slow down and be more deliberate; but the groups interested in this bill were not listening to a broad swath of Kansans.

We now find ourselves with two basically identical bills. They have been vetoed by the Governor; one has already been overriden by the Senate and both await action by the House. Some of you have wanted me to support Sunflower and Holcomb, but we can never lose sight of an elected official’s job: as a legislator, I don’t vote for issues, I vote for bills. The two bills before me contain public policy so loosely formed and so dangerous in their effect that I can hardly call them “public policy.”

Some would say that there are very good “green” things in these bills – a renewable portfolio standard, net metering only for solar, etc. Those elements are both small and hardly compare to the underlying bill. Besides, they will always be nothing more than window dressing when they are used to bring votes rather than being a genuine policy shift. You could describe these bills this way – a smoker that smokes two packs of cigarettes a day has decided to quit, for the sake of his health. He therefore decides to start wearing a nicotene patch, and limits himself to only smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. He also makes no effort to exercise and be more active (which in the case of our little metaphor would be energy efficiency and conservation, two elements all-but nonexistent in these bills.) Now, he is not only paying for the cigarettes, but he is also paying for the patch, which does nothing for him.

Some would say that Secretary Bremby’s authority needs to be curtailed. That is for the courts to decide. When a cabinet-level Secretary makes a determination that someone does not agree with, they can go to court and seek an interpretation of that Secretary’s statutory authority. Sunflower has done this, and that case is pending before the Kansas Supreme Court. However, Sunflower also decided to preempt that decision and have the legislature change the law (and make it retroactive.) If there is ambiguity in the Clean Air Act’s language – if the Secretary did in fact overstep his bounds - by all means we should fix it. However, on an issue this big we should wait for an interpretation from the court.

Some would say that we need the access to cheap power. This is where I will have to stop for the week, because I do not have the space to devote to this issue. However, it is my humble opinion, after years of energy briefings, that cheap power will be hard to come by in the near term, and it will not likely be coming from coal. Cost of coal plants are skyrocketing, and that is without any monetization of carbon dioxide from the Federal level, which is likely. Every other utility in the state has shelved or postponed its plans for a coal plant until they find out what is going on federally. Kansas City Power and Light is halfway through construction of their new plant in Missouri, and they are already 700 million dollars over budget on a 1 billion dollar plant. To charge in now with the biggest coal plant this state has seen in decades would be foolish, and that foolishness would expose the ratepayers to all of that
risk. In the past that risk was tempered by the fact that the Kansas Corporation
Commission would oversee and approve all of the rate increases by Sunflower to
make sure they were “prudent.”

Oh yeah, one other thing these bills do: they remove the KCC oversight from Sunflower’s rates – that protection would now be gone.

Thanks to Gov. Sebelius, Rep. Svaty and the other legislators who were able to withstand the bullying tactics of Speaker Neufeld and do what is right for Kansas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so that's why he married the westar lobbyist...