Commentary: Kentucky legislature ignoring coal trends

This editorial appeared in The Lexington Herald-Leader.

As the Kansas Legislature keeps trying to force approval of two new coal-fired power plants near Holcomb, other states are moving in the opposite direction. Yet most of our lawmakers don't seem to notice or care.

House and Senate negotiators plan to meet again today to work on the Legislature's fourth attempt to strip authority from the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to deny an air-quality permit to the plants. Though the three previous tries failed last year, GOP leaders think they might have the votes this time to override another promised veto by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

As they press full steam ahead, however, other states are backing away from coal plants because of rising construction costs, frozen financing and the likelihood of federal carbon taxes.

In the past 2 ½ years, plans for more than 80 coal plants have either been voluntarily withdrawn or denied permits by state regulators, the New York Times reported. So far this year, Montana, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada and Iowa have scrapped or put on hold plans for coal plants.

For example, Alliant Energy dropped plans early this month to build a coal-burning plant in central Iowa. It cited concerns about the regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions.

NV Energy shelved its Nevada proposal last month because it expects some form of a carbon tax to pass Congress by the end of 2010. CEO Michael Yackira told the Las Vegas Sun that without knowing the cost of potential carbon taxes, it was too risky for the company and ratepayers to invest in a plant whose energy might become increasingly expensive over the years.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Lexington Herald-Leader.

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