The Bus From Lawrence Was Late, But It Arrived

Kansas Viewpoint

Final hearing on air permit for Holcomb plant expansion draws comments from both sides in almost equal numbers

Published on: October 25, 2010
The opening session of today's final (we hope) hearing for public comment on a new air permit that would allow Sunflower Electric Power Coop to move forward with an expansion of its electrical generation capacity at Holcomb sounded more like a hearing in Garden City than in Topeka.

Speaker after speaker talked about the need for building more baseload power generation capacity, the jobs that would be created by the project, the state-of-the-art technology that would be used and the economic benefit to the region.

At the break, I even asked incredulously if the opponents had given up.

As it turns out, the bus from Lawrence must have been late. The ending session was speaker after speaker opposing a permit for the plant -- most of them from Lawrence, with a scattering from Kansas City, Mo. or out of state.

As I have been throughout this five-year saga, I was amazed at the spectrum of the opposition, from a somewhat disoriented organic farmer and "old-world baker" who ended a strange journey through pioneer spirit and American icons to urge us all to "take a walk on the prairie" to a polished, rapid-fire and over-the-time limit presentation by natural gas advocate Scott Allegrucci and heartfelt, emotional appeals from "expectant parents," "new parents," and "grandparents."

It was noteworthy that not one single, solitary voice of opposition came from anywhere west of Manhattan.