A Dirty Deed in Kansas, USA

I moved from West Harlem, New York, to the Kansas heartland and thought, if I couldn't get fresh sushi at least I would breathe cleaner air and get closer to nature. The truth is I spend most of my TreeHugger time in front of a computer, but more disturbing still is this. . .

Sunflower Electric Power Corp is poised to build 3 coal-fired plants in Southwest Kansas, outside of Holcomb. While the new plants would increase Sunflower's total generating capacity nearly seven-fold, most of the new power would be exported to Colorado. According to the Sierra Club, only 8% of the energy generated by the plants would provide electricity to Kansas, while the hearty winds of Kansas will blow pollutants like mercury and fine-particle emissions all over the state.

If built, the plants will belch out about 13 millions tons of carbon dioxide a year, to become the largest new source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Global warming, anyone? These plants would be the equivalent of putting an additional 2 million additional gas-powered cars, light trucks and SUVs on the road. And the expansion could increase the mercury emitted from coal-fired power plants in Kansas by up to 80%. (Mercury's a neurotoxin that can affect the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, up to one in 10 women in the U.S. already have enough mercury in their bloodstreams to harm developing nervous systems in fetuses.)

And what does global warming look like in the country's breadbasket? Droughts in Western Kansas, water depletion, storms, flooding, and crop failure all over the state. The good news is Kansas has the 3rd greatest wind potential in the U.S. Unfortunately Governor Kathleen Sebelius has done little to encourage wind expansion in the state, despite her proclaimed support of renewable energy. In the name of protecting the state and the planet, please send a shout-out to her office and register your dissent.

Toto thanks you.