Kansas Governor Vetoes Second Coal-Fired Power Bill
April 17, 2008 (ENS)
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, today again vetoed legislation that would have overturned a decision of her administration to deny an permit application to build two new coal-fired power plants in western Kansas.
The measure, SB 148, supported mainly by Republicans, passed without a veto-proof majority of state legislators.
Last October Secretary of Kansas Department of Health and Environment Rob Bremby denied a permit to regional wholesale power supplier Sunflower Electric Power Corporation to build two new 700 megawatt power plants at its Holcomb Station because of the greenhouse gases they would have produced.
The bill Sebelius vetoed today would have permitted the power plants and stripped the state agency of the power to deny such permits in the future if they held utilities to standards stricter than those in the federal Clean Air Act.
"Legislators who promote the expansion of coal-fired plants in Kansas made a strategic decision with SB 148," said Sebelius. "Rather than working toward a compromise solution or having any conversation about energy policy, this bill was drafted behind closed doors. It contains the same onerous elements of the previous bill that I vetoed; and again, these are elements I cannot accept and will not support."
"This maneuver has done nothing to address the issues at hand - developing comprehensive energy policy, providing base-load energy power for Western Kansas, implementing carbon mitigation strategies and capitalizing on our incredible assets for additional wind power," the governor said.
Opponents of the Sunflower project say wind and conservation are better alternatives to new coal plants, which will send 85 percent of their electricity outside the state anyway.
Supporters say Western Kansas needs the power, and that rejecting the plants will create an unstable business climate and scare future investments away.
But the political climate is changing and supporters of coal power are facing challenging times at both federal and state levels.
President George W. Bush, a long-time climate change skeptic, announced a policy shift Wednesday that would halt the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2025. While not soon enough for many scientists and environmentalists, the announcement signals a recognition that climate change is a real threat that the government must address.
Sebelius said today that the president's announcement underlines the necessity of her decision not to allow more coal-fired power plants to be construction in Kansas.
"President Bush has announced a new goal for stopping the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, and recognized that the power sector must make significant efforts to achieve that goal," she said.
"Since the most likely way to achieve this goal is through a cap and trade system, which would, in effect, tax carbon, it would be unfair to Kansans for our utilities to build coal-fired plants for other states until we can evaluate the costs of those plants for Kansas tax payers and rate payers."
"We must remember the decisions we make today have a huge impact on Kansans for generations to come. The challenges before us can and should be met through a common sense solution," she said. "I am still hopeful we can have meaningful discussions about a true compromise; rather than being sent the same bill in disguise yet again."
With this action, Sebelius has signed 91 bills this legislative session and vetoed two.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
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