Veto Message from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius
“Of all the duties and responsibilities entrusted to me as Governor, none is greater than my obligation to protect the health and well-being of the people of Kansas. And that is why I supported the decision of the Secretary of Kansas Department of Health and Environment regarding Kansas’ energy future. For that reason, I must veto House Substitute for SB 327.
“This decision not only preserves Kansans’ health and upholds our moral obligation to be good stewards of this beautiful land, but will also enhance our prospects for strong and sustainable economic growth throughout our state. Instead of building two new coal plants, which would produce 11 million new tons of carbon dioxide each year, I support pursuing other, more promising energy and economic development alternatives.
“With the increasing pressure for the federal government to develop national standards for carbon emissions, there is a high probability coal will become a lot more expensive in the next several years. Countries throughout Europe and South America already have standards in place and states are following suit.
“Federal legislation has been introduced that would have the net impact of taxing carbon. If any of the proposals are adopted, utility companies and their customers will pay far more for energy which produces carbon. It will also require spending billions on equipment to clean the atmosphere as thoroughly as possible. Building additional coal plants now is likely to create a significant economic liability for Kansas in the future.
“My environmental and financial concerns surrounding the massive new coal-fired power plants allowed under SB 327 have not changed throughout this process.
“This bill goes well beyond this specific project by stripping emergency powers from the KDHE Secretary and prohibiting the consideration of any standards beyond the Clean Air Act.
“It not only mandates 11 million tons of new carbon for power we don’t need, but invites other coal plants to be sited in Kansas while eliminating any requirements to mitigate their environmental and health risks for our citizens.
“I am encouraged that the legislature made a modest attempt to address some of our alternative energy assets, but this bill fails to promote our wind assets and sends the wrong signal to potential investors for transmission lines and additional wind power.
“The new feature of net-metering does not include wind power, which could have served as a powerful incentive to individuals and communities to embrace our most abundant natural resource.
“And, the renewable standard and timetable in this bill slows down the progress we have already made, and dilutes the voluntary agreement now in place with utility companies in Kansas.
“This legislation proposes a committee to discuss electric generation. I believe we need a comprehensive discussion on energy policy, including but not limited to electric generation, which is why I am now issuing an Executive Order creating the Kansas Energy and Environmental Policy Advisory Group.
“My offer of a compromise energy proposal, with additional base load power for Western Kansas, combined with mitigation strategies and additional wind power is once again extended, and I am hopeful that some serious consideration can now occur.
“Pursuant to Article 2, Section 14 of the Constitution of the State of Kansas, I veto House Substitute for Senate Bill 327.”
-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius
Release from House Majority Leader Ray Merrick:
“It is important that Kansas find a number of responsible and cost
effective energy sources to fulfill our growing needs. While the state
should actively support the utilization of our natural resources, we
must consider the best way to achieve this goal,” said House Majority
Leader Ray Merrick. “The Governor has failed to use the best solution
available to create an exportable product and keep Kansans' energy
prices from rising. She offered no solution or substitute while denying
a project that would create thousands of jobs and bring millions of
dollars into the state.”
If allowed, the proposed Holcomb facility will be built with clean, new
generation technology and meet stringent environmental standards. There are many environmentally positive elements to this project: carbon
emissions will be reduced by 40%, mercury emissions will be reduced from current rates and construction of the Holcomb plant will develop a
transmission infrastructure for wind farms across the state.
The Holcomb power plant offers Kansans much more than energy. During construction, the new plant will create more than 2,400 jobs earning over $78 million annually. Once completed, the Holcomb Station will employ over 300 Kansans allowing them to bring home more than $16 million.
“If we are responsible with the project, it can be clean and produce
huge economic opportunities for our State. The House has worked to
maximize this opportunity while carefully weighing the environmental
impact,” said Merrick.
If the Legislature is able to override the Governor’s veto on the
energy bill, House Republicans may still be able to attract the refinery
and the economic growth that comes with it.
The Governor’s veto also casts a shadow on the efforts to attract the
National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) to Manhattan which will
require a one megawatt generating plant of its own.
“We cannot leverage the economic future of this state for political
gain,” Merrick said. “The Governor is out of touch. This should
not be about political posturing; this plan is the right thing to do for
Statement from Kansas Republican Party:
“It’s clear that the Governor continues to put the interests of radical left environmentalist groups ahead of the needs of Kansans. She has slammed the door on a $3.6 billion investment in the Kansas economy. She pretends to care about the plight of Kansans who need work, but when the opportunity arrives to create jobs, she is nowhere to be found.
“In addition, with the stroke of her veto pen, Governor Sebelius has ensured that the cost of utilities for ratepayers across the state will rise. Evidently, she’s not writing checks for the utility bills at Cedar Crest. If she were, she’d have some sympathy for the rest of us who see utility costs taking a bigger bite out of our wallets.
“This bill would have provided common-sense solutions to the energy issues facing our state. Included in this bill were provisions that would: create a renewable resources requirement for electric utilities, require some energy companies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, reduce mercury emissions, require energy efficiency for government buildings, and provide tax incentives for energy and efficiency improvements in residential rental properties. Construction of the new plants would also result in the building of new high-capacity transmission lines that make wind farms economically viable. Now those wind farms won’t be built.”
“During the entire debate surrounding the coal plant, the Governor was completely absent. She was either attending conferences out of state or campaigning for Barack Obama all over the country. It’s obvious to Kansans that she’s more interested in auditioning for a position on Obama’s team than taking care of the people of Kansas. While she was gone, Republicans were stepping in, filling the leadership void. Legislators, led by Republicans Steve Morris and Melvin Neufeld are to be commended for their efforts.”
Kansas GOP Party Chairman