Jan 12, 2020 1:00 PM

Today in History - Jan. 12

Posted Jan 12, 2020 1:00 PM

Today is Sunday, Jan. 12, the 12th day of 2020. There are 354 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Jan. 12, 1828, the United States and Mexico signed a Treaty of Limits defining the boundary between the two countries to be the same as the one established by an 1819 treaty between the U.S. and Spain.

On this date:

In 1519, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I died.

In 1915, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected, 204-174, a proposed constitutional amendment to give women nationwide the right to vote.

In 1932, Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate after initially being appointed to serve out the remainder of the term of her late husband, Thaddeus.

In 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Sipuel v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma, unanimously ruled that state law schools could not discriminate against applicants on the basis of race.

In 1959, Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records (originally Tamla Records) in Detroit.

In 1965, the music variety show "Hullabaloo" premiered on NBC-TV with host-of-the-week Jack Jones; guests included Joey Heatherton, the New Christy Minstrels and Woody Allen.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson said in his State of the Union address that the U.S. military should stay in Vietnam until Communist aggression there was stopped. The TV series "Batman," starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the Dynamic Duo, premiered on ABC, airing twice a week on consecutive nights.

In 1969, the New York Jets of the American Football League upset the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League 16-7 in Super Bowl III, played at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

In 1971, the groundbreaking situation comedy "All in the Family" premiered on CBS television.

In 1995, Qubilah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, was arrested in Minneapolis on charges she'd tried to hire a hitman to kill Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan (the charges were later dropped in a settlement with the government).

In 2000, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Illinois v. Wardlow, gave police broad authority to stop and question people who run at the sight of an officer.

In 2006, Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981, was released from an Istanbul prison after serving more than 25 years in Italy and Turkey for the plot against the pontiff and the slaying of a Turkish journalist.

Ten years ago: Haiti was struck by a magnitude-7 earthquake; the Haitian government said 316,000 people were killed, while a report prepared for the U.S. Agency for International Development suggested the death toll may have been between 46,000 and 85,000. U.S. and Mexican authorities announced the capture of Teodoro Garcia Simental, a high-ranking member of the Tijuana cartel known as "El Teo."

Five years ago: France deployed thousands of troops to protect sensitive sites, including Jewish schools and neighborhoods, in the wake of terror attacks that killed 17. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 246 yards and four touchdowns as Ohio State won the first national title in college football's playoff era, running over Oregon, 42-20.

One year ago: The partial government shutdown extended into a 22nd day, making it the longest such closure in U.S. history. Officials at Miami International Airport closed a terminal for parts of the weekend because of a staff shortage related to the partial government shutdown. Former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro joined the 2020 Democratic presidential race, announcing his candidacy in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. A powerful explosion apparently caused by a gas leak blew apart a Paris bakery, killing three people and injuring dozens.

Today's Birthdays: The Amazing Kreskin is 85. Country singer William Lee Golden (The Oak Ridge Boys) is 81. Actor Anthony Andrews is 72. Movie director Wayne Wang is 71. Actress Kirstie Alley is 69. Political commentator Rush Limbaugh is 69. Legal affairs blogger Ann Althouse is 69. Writer Walter Mosley is 68. Country singer Ricky Van Shelton is 68. Radio-TV personality Howard Stern is 66. Writer-producer-director John Lasseter is 63. Broadcast journalist Christiane Amanpour is 62. Actor Oliver Platt is 60. Basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins is 60. Entrepreneur Jeff Bezos is 56. Rock singer Rob Zombie is 55. Actor Olivier Martinez is 54. Rapper TBird (B-Rock and the Bizz) is 53. Model Vendela is 53. Actress Farrah Forke is 52. Actress Rachael Harris is 52. Rock singer Zack de la Rocha is 50. Rapper Raekwon (Wu Tang Clan) is 50. Actress Zabryna Guevara is 48. Singer Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay) is 47. Rock musician Matt Wong (Reel Big Fish) is 47. Singer Melanie Chisholm (Spice Girls) is 46. Contemporary Christian singer Jeremy Camp is 42. Actress Cynthia Addai-Robinson is 40. Rhythm-and-blues singer Amerie is 40. Actress Issa Rae is 35. Actress Naya Rivera is 33. Actor Will Rothhaar is 33. Actor Andrew Lawrence is 32. Rock singer ZAYN is 27. Pop/soul singer Ella Henderson (TV: "The X Factor") is 24.

Thought for Today: "Necessity does the work of courage." — Nicholas Murray Butler, American educator and Nobel laureate (1862-1947).

Copyright 2020, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Jan 12, 2020 1:00 PM
Why Kansas CO2 emissions are at lowest level in 40 years
A wind turbine rises over Kansas. Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

By BRIAN GRIMMETT, Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — As global carbon dioxide emissions break records, Kansas is headed in the opposite direction — reducing emissions for 10 straight years.

Kansas’ decline is largely due to the rapid adoption of wind energy and a slow move away from coal powered electricity. That is to say: Kansas produces less carbon dioxide, or CO2, the powerful greenhouse gas that’s released into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels and is a major driver of climate change.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, Kansas emitted 58.2 million metric tons of CO2 in 2017. That’s good enough to make Kansas only the 31st largest emitter in the U.S.

While it’s below the national average, on a global scale: “Kansas, if it were its own country, would be one of the top 60 CO2 emitters,” said Joe Daniel, an energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

So, when Kansas sees a reduction in emissions like it has in the past decade, it matters, he said.

The decline began in 2007, when total CO2 emissions in Kansas peaked at nearly 80 million metric tons.

Where CO2 comes from

So how did the state reduce its annual CO2 emissions by as much as the entire country of Bolivia so quickly? Three graphics explain it all.

First, it’s helpful to know the source of Kansas’ CO2 emissions. In 2017, about half of total CO2 emissions came from burning fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, to create electricity. The rest was mostly from burning gasoline and diesel in our cars and trucks.

The recent reductions aren’t transportation-related, because, despite more efficient and cleaner burning engines, additional people and cars have offset the difference. In fact, total transportation emissions in Kansas have barely changed in the past 40 years.

That leaves electric power generation.

The decline of coal

As the graph shows, energy-related CO2 emissions began to plummet in the mid-2000s. Specifically, it’s emissions from coal-fired power plants.

While some of the reductions are likely due to plant upgrades and federal environmental regulations that forced coal plants to clean up what was coming out of their smoke stacks, it’s mostly because plants burned less coal.

Coal plants in Kansas only produced about 20,000 gigawatt hours of electricity in 2018, compared to an average of about 35,000 gigawatt hours during the 2000s.

Daniel said the decline is largely due to economics. With the fast growth of cheap wind-generated electricity in Kansas, it’s become less profitable to run coal plants.

“I don’t think a month has gone by where I haven’t read a study about the poor economics of either coal plants, or coal mines, or the companies that invest in those properties,” Daniel said.

The rise of wind

About 36% of all electricity produced in Kansas is from wind, the highest percentage of any U.S. state.

Twenty years ago, there was no such thing.

Part of the rapid growth of the industry is obvious: You wouldn’t put a wind turbine in a place with no wind, and there’s a lot of wind in Kansas.

Plus, federal and state tax incentives encouraged developers to jump into the market.

And it’s increasingly cheaper to build a wind farm.

Just this year, Kansas saw four new wind farms come online, adding enough capacity to power 190,000 homes for a year.

“Will we see four wind projects come online every year for the next five years? No,” said Kimberly Gencur-Svaty, director of public policy at the Kansas Power Alliance. “But I do think we’ll probably continue at a pace of where we’ve averaged the last 20 years, which is a project or two.”

How low can it go?

Ashok Gupta with the Natural Resources Defence Council said the move to renewable energy and subsequent decrease in CO2 emissions will be vital to reducing the impacts of climate change.

But, he wondered if it will be fast enough, especially in states that have a lot of wind.”

“We should be going by 2030 to pretty much carbon-free electricity,” he said.

While some states like Colorado have begun to adopt 100% renewable energy goals, Kansas has not. Even if Kansas were to get to 100% renewable energy, there’s still the nearly 20 million metric tons of transportation emissions to worry about.

Achieving a clean electrical grid will also be key to reducing those emissions, Gupta said, even if it also means another, different shift in the way things are currently done.

“We have to start making sure that our transportation and our buildings are moving to all electric,” he said. “That’s the strategy for the next 10 years.”

Editor's note: This story was corrected  on Dec. 30 to show the coal plants produced gigawatt hours of electricity, not megawatt, and that there are 20 million metric tons of transportation emissions, not 20 metric tons.

Brian Grimmett reports on the environment, energy and natural resources for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett or email him at [email protected] The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.