Sebelius rejects coal plant ultimatum
Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today defied legislative leaders and rejected a proposal for two coal-fired power plants.
"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," Sebelius said during a news conference.
House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, and Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said Sebelius' decision could trigger a veto override vote today.
"We'll proceed," with a veto override, Neufeld said after he and Morris met with Sebelius.
The dispute is over a project by Hays-based Sunflower Power Electric Corp. and two out-of-state partners to build two coal-burning plants in southwest Kansas.
Sebelius has rejected two bills that would authorize construction of the two 700-megawatt plants. She has cited concerns about carbon dioxide emissions, linked to climate change, escalating costs of coal-fired plants, and the fact that 85 percent of the power would be sold to out-of-state customers.
Sunflower Power offered to reduce the project to two 600-megawatt plants, and Neufeld and Morris demanded that Sebelius accept the offer or they would initiate override votes.
But Sebelius continued to criticize the deal, noting it also would strip the power of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary and put the power to issue permits in the hands of the Legislature.
"The ultimatum I have been given contains all these problems, and would surely send our state in the wrong direction," she said.
Now, the showdown moves to the House and Senate.
To override Sebelius' veto would require two-thirds' majorities - 84 votes in the 125-member House and 27 in the 40-member Senate.
The last bill Sebelius vetoed concerning the plants received 83 votes in the House and 32 in the Senate.
Sebelius said she was working hard to sustain the veto in the House.