Apparently, all we needed to get Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to dish on a couple of dirty power plants was a comedian in drag.
Last month, the Pitch wrote about Sunflower Electric Power Corporation’s proposal to expand its electricity-generating facility in western Kansas. Adding two new coal-fired power plants would make Sunflower’s Holcomb site one of the biggest new sources of global warming pollution in the country. The plan has ignited widespread opposition, and outraged Kansans have sent hundreds of letters begging the Democratic governor to stop the carbon-belching project.
Though Sebelius has spent much of her second term bolstering her environmental credentials, pushing wind power and advocating an eco-inspired reconstruction effort in tornado-flattened Greensburg, she has distanced herself from the coal issue. When we asked her to speak with us about the Holcomb expansion, all we got were some selective responses to written questions. Sebelius seemed to give tacit approval to the Sunflower project while skirting tougher queries about global warming.
Last week, the Wichita Eagle posted a music video on its Web site, also targeting the governor for contradicting her own stances on energy policy. In “Coal-Lovin’ Governor”, the newspaper’s editorial staff got Wichita comedian Bucky Walters to dress as Loretta Lynn and croon to the tune of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” about the folly of polluting Kansas air and draining its groundwater to produce power that largely will be shipped out of state. (The cross-dressing entertainer also quips that eco-filmmaker Leonardo DiCaprio won’t be Sebelius’ friend if she allows the plants to be built.)
A day later, in another clip featured on the Eagle’s site, Sebelius contradicted her decidedly neutral stance over the past eight months and said she personally opposes the Holcomb expansion. “I think it’s not acceptable or appropriate that we would build these merchant plants to sell energy to other folks and impose those health risks on Kansans,” she told the Eagle, while fiddling awkwardly with the plastic cap from a bottle of Ozarka water.
So will a crude music video featuring square-dancing newspaper columnists spur Sebelius to take a stronger stance against dirty power? The answer should come before the end of the month, when the Kansas Department of Health and Environment rules on Sunflower’s permit. – Carolyn Szczepanski