Archive for Friday, March 21, 2008

Governor vetoes legislation on coal-fired power plants

Override attempts expected in Senate, House

March 21, 2008

— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Friday vetoed legislation to build two coal-fired power plants.

The action was expected. Sebelius has criticized the bill frequently since lawmakers sent it to her desk last week.

Now the question is whether supporters of the bill can muster the required two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate to override her veto.

The legislation passed with more than a two-thirds majority in the 40-member Senate, 31-7, but fell short of the 84 votes needed in the 125-member House when it was adopted, 75-47.

The standoff has become one of the main issues of the legislative session and has attracted national attention in the debate over climate change and the effect of carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired electric generation plants.

Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and two out-of-state companies proposed building the $3.6 billion plants near Holcomb in southwest Kansas. Under the proposal, approximately 85 percent of the power would be sold to customers outside Kansas.

Last October, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby denied permits for the two 700-megawatt plants, citing concerns about carbon dioxide emissions and their effect on climate change. The project would have emitted 11 million tons of CO2 per year.

Supporters of the plants cried foul, saying that the plants met all current environmental restrictions and that neither the state nor the federal government regulate CO2. The project also was touted for its anticipated economic benefit to southwest Kansas.

When House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, was asked earlier this week if he had obtained the necessary votes to override a veto, he said, "We'll talk about that later."


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