Sebelius’ stance on coal plant, KU criticized

? A group of Republican House members on Monday criticized Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for opposing a coal-fired power project in western Kansas, while supporting an affiliation between Kansas University and a Missouri hospital.

The legislators said both issues represent exporting Kansas assets. But Sebelius, a Democrat, said they are unrelated.

In a news release, state Rep. Pat George, R-Dodge City, said, “Numerous times this year, Gov. Sebelius has expressed her strong support of a proposed affiliation agreement between the University of Kansas School of Medicine and St. Luke’s Hospital, despite the fact the proposed affiliation indicates Kansas medical interns will be assigned to hospital rotations in Missouri.

“Meanwhile, she has spoken against the idea of a Kansas power plant selling its excess electricity for use in other states.”

Sebelius said the proposed power project near Holcomb and the research and training affiliation between KU and St. Luke’s are two completely different deals.

She said she supports the KU-St. Luke’s affiliation because it will help KU attain National Cancer Institute designation.

And Sebelius said she opposes the twin, 700-megawatt coal plants because they would produce massive emissions.

“I also believe that we have a moral duty to be good stewards of this land, and I have a responsibility for the safety and security of our citizens, which includes health concerns. Those considerations have convinced me that massive new coal plants in Kansas are not in the best interests of our citizens,” Sebelius said.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is expected to make a decision soon on the proposed plants. If approved, approximately 90 percent of the electricity produced will be sold to out-of-state customers.

State Rep. Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington, and chairwoman of the House budget committee, said the proposed KU Medical Center-St. Luke’s affiliation would result in “shipping our medical assets out of state.”

Schwartz added: “Pulling a critical mass of students out of the Kansas program to intern at St. Luke’s would reduce not only KU Hospital’s ability to care for its patients but also impact KUMC-Wichita, which relies on those interns.”

But Amy Jordan Wooden, a spokeswoman for KUMC, said the proposed affiliation would result in the training of more doctors and offer them more diverse training experience.

The group of Republican House members criticizing Sebelius’ positions also included Jeff Whitham, of Garden City; John Grange, of El Dorado; Mike O’Neal, of Hutchinson; John Faber, of Brewster. Dick Kelsey, of Goddard; and Jim Morrison, of Colby.