Senate, House pass coal plant legislation


The Kansas Senate passed a revised energy bill that would expand the range of coal-burning power plants in southwest Kansas, but the governor might keep that from happening.

The Senate passed a bill that affects plants in Finney County Thursday with a 31-7 vote after the House passed the bill with a 75-47 vote Wednesday. However, the House’s vote was nine votes short of the total needed to override a possible veto by the governor.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ press secretary released a statement Wednesday an hour after the House’s decision. It stated that the governor does not support specific language of the bill that restricts the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary’s power to set new air-pollution standards and limits the authority to deny air-quality permits for proposed power plants.

“Due to the Legislature’s decision to keep that language in this bill, it’s really not a question of if she’ll veto, but when,” Sebelius’ press secretary wrote in a released statement.

Seth Bundy, spokesman for the governor, said nothing changed from Wednesday to Thursday, so the governor’s statement remains the same.

In October 2007, KDHE secretary Roderick Bremby denied permits that would allow the Sunflower Electric Power Corporation to build two proposed 700-megawatt coal-burning power plants because of the plants’ annual amounts of emissions and effect on the environment.

After the denial, three senators and three representatives formed a conference committee and created a compromise bill that included green items to persuade legislators to look past the plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. However, the language regarding the KDHE secretary’s authority still does not meet the approval of the governor.

Sen. Mark Taddiken, R-Clifton, voted for the bill that passed Thursday. With the anticipated veto from Sebelius, Taddiken said he will be disappointed.

“At the point we’re in now, this bill has been through conference committee,” he said. “It’s not amendable. Since we have passed this version, it’s on its way to the governor’s desk. If the governor vetoes it, and it is not overridden, the issue would have to start over in a different bill.”

Taddiken is a strong supporter of alternative energy and said he is the chair of Kansas Department of Agriculture’s 25 by ’25 initiative, which has a goal of having 25 percent of the nation’s total energy needs provided by renewable energy by 2025.