Topeka — Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday criticized legislation to build two coal-burning power plants, saying the proposals would put Kansans "at risk."
And Sebelius said that she offered plant developers - Sunflower Electric Power Corp. - her support for construction of a smaller coal-fired plant, but was refused.
The development came as legislative leaders sought support for bills that would allow Sunflower Electric to build two 700-megawatt plants in southwestern Kansas.
In response to Sebelius' statements, Sunflower Electric spokesman Steve Miller said, "We're hopeful that a resolution can be reached that is in the best interests of Kansans, and we remain committed to further discussions with the governor's staff and the Legislature."
He declined to comment further.
In October, the Sebelius administration rejected the two plants, citing concerns about carbon dioxide emissions and global warming.
Supporters of the plants pushed back, introducing bills aimed at allowing construction of the two plants, while also establishing what they said would be unprecedented limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
"This is the result of a lot of legislative work and compromise," House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said of the bills. "It's actually for the best of Kansas and to move us forward in the future," he said.
But on Thursday, Sebelius issued a lengthy news release criticizing the legislation.
She said if the bills became law they would increase CO2 emissions.
"It will not result in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. If anything, it appears to be an attempt to mislead Kansans that significant action would be taken," Sebelius said.
She said the legislation would allow any coal-powered plant to be built in Kansas "whether Kansas needed energy or not."
She added: "All the coal plants that have been denied permits or withdrawn applications in other states would be knocking at our door."
And she added that one part of the legislation "puts our citizens at risk" because it would prevent the Kansas Department of Health and Environment from taking actions to protect health in the absence of federal rules.
Sebelius said that she was concerned about the electric needs of western Kansas.
She said she offered Sunflower her support of a 660 megawatt coal-fired plant, similar to one that the company proposed in 2001, to address western Kansas electric needs. Under the Sunflower proposal, most of the power from the two plants would have been sold to out-of-state customers.
But her offer was rejected, she said. It also would have required more commitment to wind power, energy efficiency and implementation of technology to reduce emissions.