An Obama order directing a 30% reduction in carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2030 is drawing sharply contrasting commentary in Kansas.
Congressman Tim Huelskamp says the action will devastate the economy of America and Kansas and is a threat to the Constitution.
Gov. Sam Brownback says the requirement will raise the cost of living for every Kansan and disrupts the balance that must be achieved between protecting the environment and growing the economy.
Johnathan Hladik, Senior Advocate for Energy Policy at the Center for Rural Affairs has sharply different take on the issue.
"Carbon pollution fuels climate change, contributing to more frequent, destructive, costly and deadly drought and extreme weather events," Hladik says. "Rural and small town Americans have already witnessed these challenges, first-hand, and the threat to jobs and quality of life that accompany them."
Hladik also disagrees that the move will cause economic devastation, arguing that it will bring about a net benefit.
"The switch to low-carbon technologies has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in the small towns and rural areas that are home to our most abundant renewable resources," Hladik says. "Limiting carbon will help continue America's dramatic shift toward wind energy and other renewable sources. These new, clean energy technologies that produce less carbon can and will create exciting new economic opportunities."
Brownback, meanwhile says a study by the Kansas Corporation Commission shows that energy costs have risen 9.5% since 2007 and asserts that "President Obama's overregulation of energy producers" is responsible for the increase.
"Today's news that the EPA will be imposing even more expensive regulations on Kansas utilities, and doing so without approval from Congress, is very troubling," Brownback says. "Furthermore, these regulations will continue to raise the cost of living for every Kansan, making the burden on those who are already struggling to pay their bills each month unnecessarily more difficult.
Kansas is already doing its share, Brownback says.
"Kansas has been working hard to do its part to protect the environment by supporting clean coal technologies at the new plant in Holcomb, as well as diversifying our energy portfolio with wind and natural gas."
He didn't, however, say what he meant by the "new plant in Holcomb," which might be a reference to the permit that was approved last week to allow Sunflower Energy to move ahead with long-delayed plans to build an additional coal-fired plant at the site of its one and only coal plant in Holcomb.
Huelskamp says the action is designed to bankrupt the coal industry and raise energy prices for Americans.
"For Kansans, particularly customers of Sunflower in Kansas' 1st district, these proposals would be devastating if implemented. The result will be fewer jobs in rural Kansas, less economic opportunities for our graduates, and a reduced ability to compete with foreign companies," Huelskamp says.
He didn't however, say why it is customers of Sunflower that would be particularly affected. Sunflower, in fact, operates just one of the state's eight coal-fired plants and it is by far the newest, most efficient coal plant in the state.
And Hladik insists that limiting carbon emissions is a fiscally responsible course of action.
"Each time an extreme weather event hits a community around the country, the economic impact can be dire," he said. From 2011 to 2013 alone, damages from extreme weather events have exceeded a cost of $200 billion. We can do better than this."