Sen. Marshall in Washington Times: Ingenuity and Innovation in Kansas Produce Clean Energy and Environmental Victories

(Washington, D.C., September 28, 2022) – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. has published an opinion piece in the Washington Times about his plan for Kansas to produce clean, affordable, and reliable energy sourced from natural gas and nuclear in the future, as well as deficiencies in Kansas’ energy systems that are currently served by renewable sources. While you may click HERE or scroll below to read Senator Marshall’s op-ed in its entirety, he said in part,

“With nearly 50% of our electricity coming from wind, and solar beginning to utilize the same infrastructure, my home state of Kansas has a positive clean energy story to share… While we are proud of this progress, Kansas is paying considerably more in electricity costs than most of our neighbors… Simply stated, even with state and federal subsidizes to prop them up, wind and solar energy cannot compete with coal and natural gas financially and cannot compete with them or nuclear on reliability… As we look to the future, I do see other low hanging fruit, and I believe our challenges are actually opportunities… My plan would be to halt the construction of new coal power plants, and work aggressively to convert all existing coal plants across the world to natural gas or nuclear over the next two decades… Based upon our models, this will realistically have a greater actual, not just theoretical, impact than the Paris Climate Agreement, whose solutions are for the most part expensive, unachievable and unproven theories… Kansans are locked in on leaving this world cleaner, safer, and healthier than we found it, for our children, and grandchildren, and future generations. We’re doing this because it’s in our DNA, because it’s the right thing to do. We are going to do this the same way we survived other hardships, by using common sense and real-world experiences combined with ingenuity, innovation and hard work.”

Ingenuity and innovation in Kansas produce clean energy and environmental victories

By: U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D.

Washington Times

September 27, 2022

With nearly 50% of our electricity coming from wind, and solar beginning to utilize the same infrastructure, my home state of Kansas has a positive clean energy story to share, but it has not come without challenges and problems yet solved. While we are proud of this progress, Kansas is paying considerably more in electricity costs than most of our neighbors.

Simply stated, even with state and federal subsidizes to prop them up, wind and solar energy cannot compete with coal and natural gas financially and cannot compete with them or nuclear on reliability. Additionally, with this wind and solar dependency, Kansas is forced to live with the threat of blackouts due to their unreliable nature. We must realize that even with the 3,500 wind turbines in place in Kansas, at least with today’s technologies, wind and solar cannot in the foreseeable future provide adequate base load generation.

But Kansas has many other clean energy and environmental victories to celebrate.

Dodge City, yes the home of Gunsmoke, Wyatt Earp, and Boot Hill, recently became the first city in Kansas to reuse 100% of its waste water, and refine clean biogas as a byproduct. The waste waters are used to irrigate nearby corn fields and even the local municipal golf course and the gas is cleaned to pipeline quality and sold on the market. In nearby Garden City, the animal fats from meat processing plants are now being turned into clean renewable diesel. Finally, in Liberal, where rain fall typically averages only 20 inches per year, prototype water conservation farms grow strong sorghum crops, which requires less water and fertilizers than corn. Then, industry leader Conestoga uses the sorghum as a substrate for clean ethanol, providing better gas mileage and lower carbon tailpipe emissions, and sorghum oils can be refined into renewable diesel, which also lowers tailpipe emissions. Ethanol leads the way for carbon capture. First ethanol production uses plants to sequester and recycle carbon from the air rather than mining it from the ground. While producing ethanol, the carbon emissions from fermenting the fuel are captured and can be used for beverage carbonation, food preservation, dry ice, and municipal water treatment.

These conservation plans have all been successful because industry has interacted with state and federal governments to develop guardrails for obtaining subsidies, while maintaining maximum locally controlled freedoms for innovation. This lighter touch allows each state to be its own real world laboratory experiment, using the natural resources that best suit their individual circumstances. Continuing this light touch will reap rewards, as the private sector continues to be a better and more efficient judge as to where and how financial resources should be directed.

It should be noted again, even with these significant subsidies, wind and solar remain financially uncompetitive. Moreover, our landscapes, the open prairies my families have farmed for five generations, and the ponds and open prairies where I learned to hunt and fish, are forever scarred, and ecosystems changed, much more so than from natural gas pipelines which are buried beneath the earth with minimal environmental impact. As the wind and solar farms creep more and more towards urban centers, I hear the justified frustrations of many angered Kansans.

As we look to the future, I do see other low hanging fruit, and I believe our challenges are actually opportunities.

Kansas still depends on five coal plants that provide 34% of our electricity, and Wolf Creek nuclear power plant which will eventually be aged out and taken offline provides another 15%. These generation plants must be replaced by either reliable, affordable natural gas and/or modern, safe, nuclear modular reactors in a timely, methodical fashion. And the best news is, we can use “nuclear waste” from the current nuclear plant to fuel modular reactors!

My plan would be to halt the construction of new coal power plants, and work aggressively to convert all existing coal plants across the world to natural gas or nuclear over the next two decades. Getting this commitment from all our trade partners should be on every trade agreement going forward, and a non-favored tariff should be applied to those who are non-compliant. Based upon our models, this will realistically have a greater actual, not just theoretical, impact than the Paris Climate Agreement, whose solutions are for the most part expensive, unachievable and unproven theories.

I’ve been fighting to make our environment better since I was young child; that’s what my grandparents taught all my cousins and myself, and our parents demanded the same. Kansans are locked in on leaving this world cleaner, safer, and healthier than we found it, for our children, and grandchildren, and future generations. We’re doing this because it’s in our DNA, because it’s the right thing to do. We are going to do this the same way we survived other hardships, by using common sense and real-world experiences combined with ingenuity, innovation and hard work.

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