TOPEKA, Kan. | Three-fourths of the electricity Kansans use comes from coal-fired generating plants, and that heavier-than-average reliance on coal helps explain why the state is among the top 10 in carbon dioxide emissions per person.
Because most scientists link CO2 to global warming, such a heavy reliance on coal worries environmentalists. Two Lawrence environmentalists are suing the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to force it to regulate CO2 emissions.
Global warming is an issue both as a western Kansas utility pursues plans to build new coal-fired plants and as Gov. Kathleen Sebelius works with utilities to develop more wind energy.
Concerned about meeting future demands for power, most legislators still see new coal-fired plants as a significant portion of any future mix. They’ve concentrated on providing incentives for companies to capture and store carbon dioxide and develop other electric sources, including nuclear power.
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“Folks are probably not willing to go back to the days of the pioneers and have conveniences only periodically,” said Sen. Jay Emler, a Lindsborg attorney who’s chairman of the Senate Utilities Committee.
The Associated Press analyzed federal CO2 emissions data for states and the District of Columbia for 2003, the latest figures available. They showed Kansas with emissions of nearly 80 million metric tons, or more than 29 metric tons per person, ranking it 13th in the nation.