Topeka The Kansas Chamber of Commerce is using the defeat of the coal-burning plants in southwest Kansas to raise campaign funds for legislative elections.
Amy Blankenbiller, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, said Wednesday in a fund-raising letter that if the decision against the coal plants is allowed to stand it "will have a chilling effect on Kansas' entire business and manufacturing community."
In an interview, Blankenbiller said candidates' positions on the two 700-megawatt coal-fired plants won't be the only consideration when the PAC decides next week whom to endorse, but it will be one of the main ones.
Last year, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby denied permits for the plants, citing concerns with greenhouse gas emissions.
During the recent legislative session, a majority of lawmakers approved bills to require the plants' construction, but Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed each attempt, and the Legislature was unable to muster the two-thirds majority to overturn her vetoes.
Blankenbiller said she has heard of businesses passing over Kansas for other states because of "regulatory uncertainty."
But the Sebelius administration has denied such claims.
"To be clear: There is no 'regulatory uncertainty' in Kansas," Bremby said in a recent article. "KDHE has continued to issue timely air-quality permits."
In the chamber letter, Blankenbiller says the organization will try to re-elect lawmakers who have consistently stood with business, and elect new lawmakers "who realize the well-being of the entire state hinges on the ability of businesses like yours to operate free from burdensome taxes and regulations."
Blankenbiller notes "there is no limit to the amount of money you can contribute to the Kansas Chamber PAC."