Hundreds Rally for Clean Energy at Kansas Capitol
A large Sierra Club contingent joined hundreds of activists representing labor unions, faith groups, farmers, environmentalists, health groups, and others for a Clean Energy Day rally at the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka on March 19. The diverse coalition gathered to oppose a bill in the state legislature that would allow construction of two 700-megawatt coal-burning power plants in the state.
"It's clear Kansans want clean energy and are willing to work for it," says Kansas Sierra Club organizer Stephanie Cole, at left below. "I'm continually amazed by the dedication of clean energy advocates in Kansas. Many people took the day off of work to participate in the rally, and others drove several hours to make their voice heard. This is democracy at its best." Below right, Kansas Chapter lobbyist Tom Thompson, who spoke at the rally.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who has been nominated to become U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, has vetoed three bills by the state legislature to build the new plants near Holcomb in the southwestern part of the state. The latest bill is now in a joint House-Senate conference committee.
"The governor has promised to veto the new bill, but attempts to overturn her veto are expected and the pro-coal lobby is spending lots of money and working hard to make that happen," Cole says. "The legislation is an attempt to force coal plants on Kansans, packaged with a few weak 'green provisions.' Kansans aren't interested in a future tied to coal. It's our hope that state leaders will support the governor and give Kansas an opportunity to be a leader in the clean energy economy, rather than locking us into outdated, dirty power."
This was the second year the Sierra Club has helped organize Clean Energy Day in Topeka. Cole says many rally participants were inspired to see such strong and diverse support for clean energy, whether the reason was jobs, clean air, or to slow climate change.
"Today was a smashing success," says Tom Thompson. "The coalition of people who came together to voice their opinions about clean energy was heard throughout the capital and the state. The legislature needed to hear, with a clear voice, that building sources of energy that emit carbon dioxide and add to global warming is unacceptable."
Top photo by Carey Maynard Mooney. Stephanie Cole and Tom Thompson photos by Mary Thompson. Bottom three photos by Claus Wawrzinek.
This story was co-reported by Heather Moyer.