Thursday, February 14, 2008

Another win for Kansas

I like my home state and often try to defend it when others run it down but I have to admit that there are plenty of things that are just downright embarrassing. Fred Phelps, every off-election when people don't vote and let the fundies take over the state school board and ban teh evil evolution, Topeka...the list goes on.

This week I get the joy of adding TWO more things to the list. The first comes from the Republicans who have chosen to essentially eliminate all environmental control by the government in an attempt to spite the governor, continue to deny global warming, or maybe just be dicks in general. It's tough to tell with them sometimes.

The basic story is Sunflower Electric wanted to build two massive coal power plants in western Kansas but the Department of Health and Environment Secretary nixed the plan due to the corresponding massive amounts of carbon dioxide these things would emit. Estimates were 11 million tons per year.

This sent the corporate repugs into a tizzy because "woe is us, we're holding back progress" as if coal was the wave of the future or something. Granted western Kansas does need jobs but after the construction was finished the vast majority of the jobs would be gone. It also would be one of the cleanest coal plants out there but that's like saying you're the classiest woman on Rock of Love 2. You might not be a stripper but you're still a skank.

So, in their infinite wisdom the Senate passed a bill that says the state government can not exert any control over CO2 emissions. Earlier versions of the bill contained qualifiers like a (relatively tiny) carbon tax and requirements for investments in renewable energy sources like wind power (hello, we're in Kansas! It's windy like 360 days a year) but those were stripped out of the final copy. So, essentially they just put up a giant welcome sign for anybody that wants to come put in a giant polluting power plant. Hey, come on over, throw us a few bucks. We don't care about global warming or carbon dioxide! That sounds a lot like science and lord knows we don't buy into all that hootenany. If Jesus wanted us to take care of the Earth he would have put something in the Bible about it. Well, err...

Fortunately U.S. Representative Henry Waxman is attempting to save us from our own stupidity by letting everyone know that the state could be stuck with the bill if the federal Rural Utilities Services steps out from subsidizing it which would almost assuredly happen if the federal government enacted stricter carbon laws.
“If this plant is built, Kansas ratepayers may be stuck with billions of dollars in stranded assets and skyrocketing costs for power,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Waxman called for a comprehensive review of the federal government’s role in helping build coal-fired plants — and he specifically cited the project proposed by Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp.

He questioned the federal Rural Utilities Service’s reasons for allowing Sunflower Electric to go forward with its plans, citing potential federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions, and increased financial concerns about bankrolling such plants.

“I am concerned, however, that RUS may not have accounted for all the risk of substantial additional costs associated with the new plant’s massive greenhouse gas emissions,” Waxman wrote in a letter to James Andrew, the administrator of the Rural Development Utilities Program.

However, this will probably only strengthen the resolve of the state legislature. I swear it's like we elected a whole house full of Bushes.

The other example of enlightenment emanating from my state can be seen in one of the local Catholic schools decisions in referees. We'll pick the story up from Darin Putthoff, one of the referees selected to work that game.
"As soon as we walked through the door (during pregame warmup) we started getting stares and the cold shoulder," he said. "I thought that was odd, because usually they're very hospitable there. It's actually a pretty good place to work."

The reason for the climate change quickly became obvious to both referees when, just 10 minutes before tipoff, a clearly embarrassed school administrator asked that Campbell not work the game.

"He told us women were not allowed to referee there," said Putthoff, who was asked to work with two male officials from the just-completed junior varsity game.

"I was shocked, immediately caught off guard. I said, 'If Michelle has to leave, I'm leaving with her,' and we all walked. As far as I'm concerned, I'm never coming back."

Apparently the school said that "women are not to have authority over men" as their reason for the rule before clamping down and refusing interviews. You've got to be kidding me. Way to go, guys. Do they not have any female teachers at this school? That's just embarrassing that they would actually do something like that. Apparently they aren't technically a part of the Kansas State High School Athletic Association but are allowed to play members of the group so there isn't much the state can do about it other than revoke their right to play in sanctioned games.

Sigh. This really would be a great place if it wasn't for all the dipshits.

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