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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Coal-fired plants advance in Senate

February 14, 2008

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— The Kansas Senate on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that essentially would require the state to approve two 700-megawatt coal-burning power plants in southwest Kansas.

After more than three hours of debate, the Senate advanced the measure on a voice vote to set up a final vote today.

The bill is expected to pass.

However, the key will be whether it gains a two-thirds majority - 27 votes in the 40-member Senate - which would be sufficient to overturn a possible gubernatorial veto. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has been highly critical of parts of the measure.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he didn't know whether there were enough votes to overturn a veto. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said maneuvering and negotiating on the issue are in their early stages.

"This won't be the last time we see this. This is an issue that will consume much of this session," Hensley said.

The measure seeks to reverse a decision last year by Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby.

Bremby denied permits for the plants because of concerns about the effect of the project's carbon dioxide emissions on climate change.

Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. wants to build the plants near Holcomb. If built, the plants would emit 11 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

The plants are opposed by numerous environmental groups, the attorneys general of eight states, and the Lawrence City Commission.

But supporters of the plants said the $3.6 billion project and 2,400 construction jobs would boost the economy while putting up one of the cleanest coal-burning plants in the nation.

State Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, dismissed climate change as an "unproven scientific theory." He said China built 180 coal-fired plants while KDHE was considering the plants' application from Sunflower Electric.

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said CO2 was part of nature and helped crops grow. "I'm a farmer. We love CO2," he said.

State Sen. Chris Steineger, D-Kansas City, Kan., tried to amend the bill to include fees on carbon emissions and a system to offset those emissions. But that was defeated 32-3.

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, tried to strike a provision in the bill that would prohibit Bremby from using his authority the way he did to reject the Sunflower Electric permits.

Francisco said because Sunflower Electric has appealed Bremby's decision to the Kansas Supreme Court, the court should determine whether what he did was constitutional.

But supporters of the plants blasted Bremby's denial of the permits.

State Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg, said, "a bureaucrat overrode all of us." And state Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said of Bremby, "He flat didn't have the authority" to reject the permits because they complied with existing state rules.

Francisco's amendment was defeated on a voice vote.

Comments

Eride 6 years, 10 months ago

"State Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, dismissed climate change as an "unproven scientific theory." He said China built 180 coal-fired plants while KDHE was considering the plants' application from Sunflower Electric."

Obviously State Senator Phil Journey hasn't been reading all of the articles discussing the horrible effects all those coal plants have had not only on the environment in China but the people as well.

Not only are all those new coal plants in China destroying their environment, it is destroying ours as well because all of that crap is drifting across the ocean onto US soil.

MCwzMC 6 years, 10 months ago

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said CO2 was part of nature and helped crops grow. "I'm a farmer. We love CO2," he said.


Wow. Flawless logic. Precisely the type of heady, detailed analysis you would expect from the Kansas Senate. Just doing what they do best

lucasnad27 6 years, 10 months ago

Wow...those senators are so very poignant. I hope they are releasing an autobiography soon!

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 10 months ago

This is good news and a victory for common sense.

toefungus 6 years, 10 months ago

This will pass both chambers with a veto proof majority. The reason, the way the Governor chose to engage the people in a dialog. Using KDHE to sneak in a policy change was bad form. There probably is a consensus on the need to control CO2 emissions, but that will have to wait until the Governor can provide leadership.

sfjayhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

This + the Huckabee victory is such classic Kansas - and so why Kansas keeps spiraling down the path toward complete irrelevance.

lucky_guess 6 years, 10 months ago

"State Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, dismissed climate change as an 'unproven scientific theory' He said China built 180 coal-fired plants while KDHE was considering the plants' application from Sunflower Electric.

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said CO2 was part of nature and helped crops grow. 'I'm a farmer. We love CO2,' he said."

... now, these sparse quotes make me think that the LJWorld is once again taking quotations out of context in order to frame readers' perspectives.

I certainly hope that is the case here, because if these quotes reflect the actual education of our SENATORS concerning the environment, then we are in trouble.

laika 6 years, 10 months ago

"State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said CO2 was part of nature and helped crops grow. "I'm a farmer. We love CO2," he said."

Srsly? Wow

bd 6 years, 10 months ago

I read an article a while back where a modular home factory in western Kansas closed down because they could not find enough qualified help, they employed about 150 people, I think it was in Plainville. A plant this big will more than likely be built by an out of state contractor who will bring in many out of state migrant construction workers who will make their wages and go home when it is done! A few locals will be hired as laborers. Been there done it! (Wolf Creek)

snowWI 6 years, 10 months ago

The lack of an RPS in this state will have the potential to allow even more coal plants in this state. We should be building more wind farms like Iowa is doing. Bremby is right when he says CO2 regulations are coming in the near future. Kansas will be left behind the curve again, and the ratepayers will be paying for outdated technology. This includes all pulverized coal plants, even the new ones.

snowWI 6 years, 10 months ago

"We ought to start any RPS discussion by first having Lawrence utilities and customers first install to the level of RPS currently used by Western Kansans. Another example of cleaning up your own front yard first"

I am not opposed to this at all. The RPS has to start somewhere in this state, or the feds will set the regulations up for us to abide by anyway in the near future. I am not even going to address some of the comments made by certain state representatives.

yankeelady 6 years, 10 months ago

So what happens after the next election when we (hopefully) have an administration that is environmentally friendly? When the feds DO regulate CO2, then what? Of course if this does get vetoed then the veto is overridden, someone will file suit to stop construction. Sierra Club, or Audubon, or some other group. I can't see this being built. Which is a good thing. The scary part is the legislature passing laws to end another agencies authority. I think they are also trying to change the process for judicial appointments. I can't wait until November.

hornhunter 6 years, 10 months ago

cools link, (Stashing carbon dioxide underground in geologic formations is considered the most likely method of sequestration.) But there are only two IGCC plants operating now, in Indiana and Florida, and although companies have proposed building more, the technology is not yet perfected.

Stashing carbon dioxide underground in geologic formations, this sounds like another Hutchinson flash back but with CO2, sounds great but wait, wait THE TECHNOLOGY IS NOT YET PERFECTED. Sounds like a sprawl designed 'GAP' eh kewl?

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