Kan. House Passes Coal Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The House passed a bill Friday allowing Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build two coal-fired power plants in western Kansas, near Holcomb.

The vote Friday was 79-44 - five votes short of the two-thirds needed to override a promised veto by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

House Speaker Mike O'Neal, a Hutchinson Republican, said he will have the 84 votes when it comes time to override. "It's got strong support and I'm still relatively optimistic that we'll have the necessary votes to override a veto, which the governor has threatened."

Opponents of the bill are just as confident the bill won't get the extra five votes. "We've been debating this issue for a long time and I don't believer there have ever been 84 votes and I don't think there ever will be," said House Minority Leader, Rep. Paul Davis.

The bill overturns a decision by the Sebelius administration to deny an air-quality permit to the Hays-based utility over concerns about carbon dioxide emissions. It also deals with other issues and contains various "green'' provisions to attract support from some lawmakers who aren't enthusiastic about coal plants.

They may not agree on the best option for Kansas' energy future, but both sides say this issue can't go unresolved the way it did last year. "This is one of the most important pieces of legislation we'll address this year," said Speaker O'Neal. "We have got to make provisions for the future energy needs of the state."

Rep. Davis says passing the plan this session is critical for two reasons:
1. There are federal stimulus dollars available to states that are taking an aggressive approach to renewable energy.
2. "If we don't pass something, we're going to continue to lose jobs and projects to other states that have more renewable energy proposals that have been put in place," Rep. Davis said.

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