Herald Leader OpEd: Fletcher's clean coal technology a bust in Clark

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Herald Leader OpEd: Fletcher's clean coal technology a bust in Clark  
Posted: August 30, 2003 

In two KET appearances, U.S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher, the Republican candidate for governor, was either confused or fibbing about House-passed energy legislation's upward effect on Kentucky electricity prices.

But Fletcher, who supported the House energy bill that's now in conference committee, was confident when he said its generous new incentives for "clean coal technology" would be great for Kentucky.

In Clark County, he would find plenty of room for debate about that.

A plan to import up to a million tons of processed municipal garbage a year from New York and New Jersey, to be mixed with coal and gasified to produce electricity, has the backing of the U.S. Department of Energy and $78 million in "clean coal technology" money.

The taxpayers' $78 million is about all the unproven technology has going for it. The project has yet to win necessary private financing.

Rather than wait for something that might never happen, East Kentucky Power Cooperative, which has a contract to buy the garbage plant's power, started building a new coal-fired generator of its own in Mason County. So any electricity that would be produced with New York's garbage is no longer needed to keep anyone's lights on in Kentucky.

We suspect that elected officials and many residents of Clark County would tell their counterparts around the state that the last thing Kentucky needs is more clean coal schemes such as the one they've been battling.

The worst travesty, though, is being committed by the Democratic administration of Gov. Paul Patton.

It's going to court to challenge a hearing officer's finding that the state's solid-waste law applies to the trainloads of solid waste that would be imported to fuel the gasification plant.

You read that right.

The coal-friendly Patton administration is spending taxpayers' money to argue that because the stuff's going to a power plant and not a landfill, up to a million tons a year of out-of-state processed municipal waste (equal to half of the garbage produced in all of Kentucky in a year) can be hauled to the banks of the Kentucky River -- just above Lexington's and Winchester's water plants -- without having to comply with any of the state's laws on solid waste management.

Be glad private investors are spurning this and other similarly lame clean coal technologies. Because Kentucky's top politicians, bowing to King Coal, would shove them one and all right down our throats.






By Tom FitzGerald on 08/30/2003 5:32 PM
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