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Energy policy grows ever more confusing

 

The Governor's Energy Council is gone. Kaput. Disbanded.

 

Thank you very much, Gov. Sebelius says. We now have a plan, specific commissions and we don't need your advice any more.

 

It came right on the heels of the governor's announcement that she was taking her name off the list of potential Obama cabinet members. And it was followed in a short order by word from Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson that he would not be running for governor in 2010. Parkinson has been co-chairman of the council and the governor's primary point person on energy issues.

 

It's possible the three events are not related. But it's not likely. Something discouraged Parkinson to the point of quitting and it's not a big leap to think it might be the dismantling of his primary soapbox.

 

Not that the bloated, all-inclusive, energy council got ever much done. Consensus isn't easy when you have a committee of 34 people representing every viewpoint imaginable. The council, after all, wasn't even asked to weigh in on the biggest issue of the year, the decision to deny an air permit to Sunflower Electric to build two new coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas - possibly because there wasn't much doubt that a roomful of business leaders, all with ties to existing energy interests, would have supported the permit.

 

The interesting question now is what happens next. Do the most recent events signal a change in administration attitude? In a crumbling economy, is $3.6 billion in private investment and hundreds of new jobs getting another look? With revenues falling, is the export of energy looking more attractive?

 

Sunflower has made it clear it still wants to build the plants. Apparently, even in the world of credit crunch, the cooperatives involved still have the capital to move ahead. Maybe last year's threat of withholding financing for coal projects from the powerful financial giants - such infallible entities as Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs - doesn't carry the weight it once did.

 

What do you think? 

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