Senate Overrides Coal Plant Veto

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Senators have overriden Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto of a bill allowing two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas.

House leaders expected an attempt to override Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate vote was 32-7, giving supporters of the coal plants five votes more than the two-thirds majority necessary to nullify a veto.

Supporters have always had more than enough votes in the Senate, but they've been at least one short in the House.

Legislative leaders scheduled the votes after Sebelius rejected an alternative proposal.

"We must bridge the gap between our growing energy needs, and the time when carbon capturing technology is a commercial reality," Sebelius explained while vetoing the measure. "Which is why I am disappointed that, for the third time in a row, the legislature is asking me to mandate that Kansas send the power we need – the power we create – to Colorado and Texas."

The Democratic governor called the Republican leaders' plan an ultimatum because they said they would try to override her last veto if she rejected it. She met with the leaders this morning, then held a news conference just as lawmakers returned from their annual spring break.

"We must move forward strategically," she added, "steering our state clear of the environmental, health and economic risks of massive new carbon emissions.

Anticipating legislative action, supporters and opponents came to the Statehouse to lobby. Dozens of opponents gathered outside the House, forcing members to walk between them to get to the chamber.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld (R-Ingalls) said he was not surprised by the Governor's veto, adding that "the governor must recognize the plan she offers is essentially a fool’s errand as the economic feasibility of her compromise was simply not a realistic option."

“Both chambers worked tirelessly to develop a compromise proposal that assured the development of needed baseload and renewable energy resources and promoted energy efficiency, " Neufeld continued.

"Despite the Governor’s claim that the Legislature would not meet her at the table, the reality is she refused to include Leadership in key strategic meetings with energy leaders."

Sunflower Electric Power wants to build the plants in Finney County. But the project has been blocked by the Sebelius administration over the plant's potential carbon-dioxide emissions.

The latest proposal from legislators would still allow the two plants but they would be 14 percent smaller than Sunflower had proposed.

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

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