Drinkwine editorial on Kansas carbon emissions overlooks evidence

Frank Drinkwine of the Kansas Sierra Club has an editorial in today’s Wichita Eagle that ignores some important facts. (Frank Drinkwine: Bremby has and needs authority to protect air, February 5, 2009 Wichita Eagle.)

Setting aside for the moment the climate change hysteria that Drinkwine relies on (and we really shouldn’t set that aside), he’s wrong when he ascribes pure motives to Red Bremby, Kansas Health and Environment Secretary. It’s apparent that when Bremby denied the permit for the expansion of the Holcomb station power plant his motivation was political.

In February 2008, according to Associated Press reporting, Rod Bremby was apparently willing to approve a permit for a Hyperion oil refinery that would emit 17 million tons of carbon a year, when he denied the Holcomb Station power plan expansion solely because of its emissions of 11 million tons. (See Oil refiner wary of coming to Kansas, also Rod Bremby’s Action Drove Away the Refinery.)

Drinkwine writes “No other projects have been presented to Bremby for permitting that even remotely rival the scale of the Holcomb project.” I believe this is true, but a story from last year in the Topeka Capital-Journal reports “Bremby wrote he couldn’t commit to issuing the permit but said if Hyperion submitted the same application as they did in South Dakota, there “should not be a problem with issuance.'” Remember that this is for a plant that would emit 17 million tons of carbon per year, as compared to Holcomb’s 11 million tons.

Why would he be willing to approve 17 million tons of carbon emissions, but not 11 million tons? It’s a good question. Perhaps oil refineries don’t carry the stigma of coal. Perhaps Bremby was just doing the bidding of our governor as she prepared to build her green credentials as she entered the national stage.

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