House Falls Short in Veto Override

By: AP
By: AP

Supporters of two coal-fired power plants have failed to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius's veto of a bill allowing their construction. The vote Thursday in the House was 80-45. Supporters were four votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary. House action came a day after the Senate voted 32-7 to override.

Supporters had five votes more there than they needed on the Senate side.

The bill allows Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build the plants outside Holcomb, in Finney County. It also limits the power of the secretary of health and environment. Sebelius' secretary has been blocking Sunflower's project since October because of their potential carbon dioxide emissions. Many scientists link such man-made greenhouse gas emissions to global warming.

Statement from Governor Sebelius:

“This is good news for Kansas.

“We are at a critical period for energy policy in this state and this country. We must bridge the gap between our growing energy needs, and the time when carbon capturing technology is a commercial reality. We must move forward strategically – steering our state clear of the environmental, health and economic risks of massive new carbon emissions.

“I urge the Legislature to work with me on a new comprehensive energy policy – one that truly serves the needs of entire state – East and West.

“Meanwhile, I am still ready and willing to work with all of the energy producers in Kansas to find that common ground on which true progress can be built.”

Speaker Melvin Neufeld Release:

Topeka – Kansas House of Representatives Speaker Melvin Neufeld (R-Ingalls) and Majority Leader Ray Merrick (R-Stillwell) said tonight they remain committed to protecting Kansas interests despite the governor’s sustained veto of House Sub. For Senate Bill 148, the 2008 Kansas Energy Plan.

Throughout this process the governor has worked to make herself a nationally known figure. Tonight she has achieved this at the expense of Kansas rate-payers. Our state is forfeiting billions of dollars in future economic development – exporting jobs instead of exporting energy.

Neufeld said energy demands are expected to grow rapidly in our state and without reliable solutions for these needs, so will electric and natural gas rates.

“This is a sad day for the State of Kansas and for all utility rate-payers,” Speaker Neufeld said. “Instead of reestablishing regulatory certainty in our state and meeting our energy needs now and in the future, a small minority, including the Governor, have left Kansans vulnerable to skyrocketing electric and natural gas rates. The Governor’s veto will impact every Kansan – especially those on a fixed income and every Kansas business – big or small.”

During a Call of the House that lasted nearly two hours, many legislators were called upon to reconsider their commitments to the Governor.

“The Governor’s commitment to keep Kansas air clean comes at the cost of affordable utility rates and masks the issue,” Majority Leader Merrick said. “Sustaining the Governor’s veto of SB 148 neither produces cleaner air nor stabilizes utility rates for eastern or western Kansans. In fact, by working with her, as she has asked, we have allowed the pollutants to come from our bordering states while our jobs and businesses go.”

The state deserves more than generalities and false hope from the Governor. She has stated her support of other economic development that would leave carbon footprints nearly as large as the Sunflower expansion.

The House remains resolved to protecting our environment, providing affordable energy and encouraging economic opportunities.

CLICK THE VIDEO for raw interviews with House members on both sides of the aisle!

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