Sebelius Vetos Second Coal Plant Bill

By: AP/13 News
By: AP/13 News

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed a second bill allowing two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas.

Like a measure she rejected last month, the bill would permit Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build the two plants in Finney County. It also would strip the secretary of health and environment of some of his power.

In October, Secretary Rod Bremby denied an air-quality permit for Sunflower's $3.6 billion project. He cited the plants' potential carbon dioxide emissions.

But bipartisan majorities in both houses support the project.

In her veto message, Sebelius criticized the bill's supporters for not working toward a compromise.

"Rather than working toward a compromise solution or having any conversation about energy policy, this bill was drafted behind closed doors," Sebelius said in a statement. "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."

But House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, says it's the Governor who is unwilling to compromise. He says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle drafted a bill that includes provisions to bring the latest technology while meeting the energy needs of the state.

“I am disappointed the governor has once again ignored the will of the people of Kansas; the future energy needs of the entire state; and $3.6 billion of economic development for western Kansas that required no taxpayer-backed funding," Neufeld said in a statement.

Supporters need two-thirds majorities in both chambers to override her veto. The Senate passed the bill with the needed votes, but the House majority was just shy of the level needed.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Governor's Veto Message:
“Legislators who promote the expansion of coal-fired plants in Kansas made a strategic decision with SB 148. 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.

“I am still hopeful we can have meaningful discussions about a true compromise; rather than being sent the same bill in disguise yet again.

“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. Furthermore, putting the regulatory permitting process into the hands of a Legislature whose membership changes every two years would set a dangerous precedent and result in real regulatory uncertainty.

“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. 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.

“Pursuant to Article 2, Section 14 of the Constitution of the State of Kansas, I veto House Substitute for Senate Bill 148.”

Statement from House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls
“I am disappointed the governor has once again ignored the will of the people of Kansas; the future energy needs of the entire state; and $3.6 billion of economic development for western Kansas that required no taxpayer-backed funding.

It is clear our state is in a transitional period concerning our energy policy. House Substitute for SB 148 offered a major step forward in bringing the latest available technology to our state and addressing the energy needs of western Kansas. It provided the opportunity for a much cleaner energy baseload and eliminated the reliance on older, less-efficient, gas-powered plants. The legislation moved Kansas toward a balanced energy policy with regulatory certainty including all fuel sources.

Kansas utility companies are well on their way to meeting the President’s new energy goals. And House Sub for SB 148 would assist in those efforts. The legislation required net metering for solar in statute and required a renewable portfolio standard for renewable energy production from wind. The legislation also required energy conservation by state government and ‘‘best available control technology’’ for CO2 reduction in coal fired power plants. This bill offered the chance to build a plant that would be national trend setter and the flagship for a new governance of power plants.

It established the Kansas Electric Generation Science and Technology Commission. This legislation called for responsible and cost-effective solutions for future energy requirements.

The purpose of the Legislature is to draft sound public policy that creates a stable business climate and promotes economic development across all of Kansas. Twice the Legislature has sent the governor sound energy policy which she has chosen to ignore.

Many compromises were made in crafting House Substitute for SB 148. That work involved both Democrats and Republicans as well as opponents and proponents of the first energy bill vetoed by the governor. 83 Representatives in the House serving nearly 85% of the state voted for the bill. The majority of Kansans and their representatives made it clear that the time for political grandstanding by the governor is over. It is disappointing the governor refuses to accept what an overwhelming majority of her constituents want.

House Substitute for SB 148 is a complete energy policy, and unfortunately, it's been the governor who's been unwilling to visit with us about what energy policy ought to be. As always, members of the House and Senate will continue to work on a solution that addresses our state’s energy needs now and in the future.”


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