The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

State News

May 1, 2008

Kansas: Governor’s veto of coal bill stands

The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. — Supporters of two coal-fired power plants failed Thursday to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ veto of a bill allowing the plants in southwest Kansas.

The vote in the House was 80-45, but supporters needed a two-thirds majority. They were four votes short.

“We have always known that we will someday face the fact that fossil fuels are a finite resource,” said Rep. Joshua Svaty, an Ellsworth Democrat who voted against overriding the veto. “The state of Kansas can do better.”

The Senate had voted Wednesday to overturn the veto.

The bill allows Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build the two plants outside Holcomb, in Finney County, and limits the power of the secretary of health and environment.

Secretary Rod Bremby, a Sebelius appointee, denied an air-quality permit for Sunflower’s project in October because of the plants’ potential carbon dioxide emissions. Many scientists link such man-made greenhouse gases to global warming.

The House’s vote came after Sunflower’s top executive acknowledged that the new plants might not be enough to meet customers’ power needs after 2020.

But Sunflower’s project has bipartisan legislative support, partly because many lawmakers see it as economic development. They also noted that Sunflower’s new plants would be the cleanest in the state and said they would lead to even cleaner technology.

“We can be the leaders of the 21st century,” said Rep. Kenny Wilk, a Lansing Republican who supports the plants. “Launch this exciting journey into the future.”

Sebelius’ veto was sustained even though Sunflower’s allies brokered a deal to lure a few more votes. The deal, contained in a trailer bill, requires Sunflower to offer some of the power to other Kansas utilities not involved in its project.

“It provides some comfort to some folks,” said House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, an Ingalls Republican who supports the plants.

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