Archive for Thursday, March 6, 2008

Coal plant bill passes, but veto looms

March 6, 2008


Coal plant bill passes

A bill allowing two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas won House approval on Wednesday. Enlarge video

How they voted

Here is how local legislators on Wednesday voted on the bill that would allow two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas. The House approved the conference committee report for House Substitute for Senate Bill 327 by a 75-47 vote.

Voting against the conference committee report:

¢ Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence

¢ Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence

¢ Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City

¢ Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka

Voting for the conference committee report:

¢ Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora

¢ Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence

¢ Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie

— The standoff continues.

For the second time in a little more than two weeks, the House approved a bill allowing construction of two coal-burning power plants in southwest Kansas.

And for the second time, supporters of the plants failed to get enough votes to override a veto from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

The 75-47 vote for the bill was nine votes short of the two-thirds majority - 84 in the 125 member House - to override.

Sebelius wasted little time hammering the bill.

Less than an hour after the House action, her office issued a statement that said one of Sebelius' main objections is that the bill would strip the power of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in the process of deciding whether to permit a plant.

"Due to the Legislature's decision to keep that language in this bill, it's really not a question of if she'll veto, but when," Sebelius' spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said.

But House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, who supports construction of the two 700-megawatt plants, said he would start working with House members to get enough votes for an override.

"We'll kind of look at the list and see what people want," Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said.

"There's probably 12 or 13, at least, I know that have things they want. Some are budget, some are other things. Some want bills run, some want bills not run. That's how this place works," Neufeld said.

State Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, voted against the bill and said legislators backing the bill need to negotiate with Sebelius "and have a discussion on how to move this forward."

Holland said Neufeld and others should look at a long-term energy policy instead of trying to defeat Sebelius on the issue.

On Feb. 19, the House approved a similar bill, but again fell short of a veto-override majority in a 77-45 vote.

The Senate is expected to easily pass the measure today.

Last year, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby refused to issue permits for the $3.6 billion plants, citing the project's annual emission of 11 million tons of carbon dioxide and its effect on climate change.

The bill approved by the House would allow Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and two out-of-state partners to build the plants outside Holcomb.

State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, voted for the measure, even though he voted against the earlier House version. Sloan said he now supported the bill because it included creation of a 15-member commission to study a variety of issues related to electric service, and a number of "green" provisions.

The bill requires utilities to produce 20 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2020, and it would establish a procedure to encourage solar power.

"Our state has a much greener future (with the bill) than without it," Sloan said.


highendgranola 10 years, 3 months ago

Hey Bremby - You ROCK!!! Thanks for all you do to protect our health and the health of mother earth.

toefungus 10 years, 3 months ago

Time for the Republicans to push back hard.

Jerry Stubbs 10 years, 3 months ago

I saw that Missouri has dropped plans for a coal powered plant because of concerns about future laws regulating carbon dioxide. They believe the regulations will make the costs rise, making coal too expensive.

We are already stuck with some of the worst polluting coal plants in the country. Do we want to pay carbon tax for plants that supply electricity to Colorado? I don't think so.

frankwiles 10 years, 3 months ago

I swear it gets harder and harder each year to be proud of being from Kansas.

It's just like our backwards state to fight tooth and nail to invest in and use old antiquated technology, even when new alternatives exist. Next year the legislature will probably propose bills to bring back VHS, dial-up Internet, and to ban the use of GPS devices due to some ridiculous religious argument.

Especially when you consider that many communities have passed anti-smoking legislation and if I remember correctly, wasn't the state house even kicking around a bill to ban smoking across the entire state?

Why is it ok in our law maker's eyes to have 11 million tons of smoke come out of two big pipes, but it's not ok to have 11 million little smoke stacks?

Thank you Gov. Sebelius and Secretary Bremby for helping to make Kansas just a little less backwards.

dirkleisure 10 years, 3 months ago

"The tax will affect all those who purchase the energy:the Coloradoans, would pay the tax on the energy which they purchase."

Is that in the agreement with Tri-State?

The tax will be borne by the owner of the plant. The owner of the plant will pass the tax onto its ratepayers. If the rates Sunflower is charging Tri-State for power are written into the agreement, any additional costs will be solely borne by Sunflower ratepayers.

ralphralph 10 years, 3 months ago

It's nice to see Chatty Cathy take time off from the photo shoots and Kansas-bashing to throw us some negativity.

btw ... here lies the future (let's make it the present) ... Clean. Safe. Nuclear.

gr 10 years, 3 months ago

"KANSAS needs #1, net metering to begin our own power generation industries,"

Ok, let's explore that. Suppose it was possible that everyone could generate their own power - net that is. Cloudy and windless days, they use the power plant, but sunny or windy days they generate execess. Say it comes out exactly break even for all customers.

Do you see a problem here?

Bill Griffith 10 years, 3 months ago

Thanks, Doug County. That was under the detail called "Rural Utility Service". I probably should have been clearer on that point since it is a little-known funding mechanism.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

It is odd when ratepayers complain about the cost of energy yet allow corporate america and Kansas legislators( of all people) to convince them that the most toxic and expensive choices is somehow in their best interest.

Isn't there something wrong with this picture?

wstrnksgirl 10 years, 3 months ago

If you've ever lived in southwest Kansas you'll know there are lots of sunny days, even more windy days and the aquifer has already dropped to a much lower level....there ARE alternatives to the Sunflower plants.

gr 10 years, 3 months ago


Could you use some paragraphs, capitalization, spacing after commas and periods, take some breaths, and not switch multiple topics within the same sentence so you don't look so STUPID?

frank regnier 10 years, 3 months ago

How do "we" get off on blaming China for being the biggest polluters and depending on Coal plants when "we" refused to participate in the "KYOTO TREATY". Those Bush fans out there in Kansas need to take a look at their selves and clean up there own act. It always amazes me how it is ok to pollute as long as it doesn't affect "my pocket book". Well, take at look at your kids, their kids and their grandkids and then say, OOPS,,,,sorry for the mess I left you kids! But, I enjoyed myself. Coal plants are obsolete as with the gasoline engine. Time for wind, solar, and totally electric (not gas dependant hybrids) automobiles, let's get with the program people! Protect the planet don't pollute it for your kids~

Bill Griffith 10 years, 3 months ago

In the last month the following events have transpired: Wall Street has given notice that climate change legislation will need to be figured in the bottom lines of any coal projects that the big banks will underwrite. A 1500 MW plant in Ely, Nevada has had its permit application withdrawn by the applicant, the Rural Utility Service has announced that they will not loan anymore money to cooperatives to constsruct coal plants due to litigation from environmental groups. AES cancelled its plants to build a 650 MW power plant in Missouri due to uncertainty concerning climate change legislation in Congress. I don't see this trend dissipating but only growing stronger as Congress takes up climate legislation either this summer (longshot on passage in an election year) or in 2009.

Ken Lassman 10 years, 3 months ago

Add this to the list, belexus: Business Week March 5th Tony Brown Feds Suspending Major Loan Program for New Coal Plants

The federal government is suspending a major loan program for coal-fired power plants in rural communities, saying the uncertainties of climate change and rising construction costs make the loans too risky. After issuing $1.3 billion in loans for new plant construction since 2001, none will be issued this year and likely none in 2009, James Newby, assistant administrator for the Rural Utilities Service, a branch of the Department of Agriculture, said Tuesday.The program's suspension marks a dramatic reversal of a once-reliable source of new coal plant financing. It follows the announcement last month that several major banks will require plant developers to factor in climate change when seeking private funding. 'This is a big decision. It says new coal plants can't go to the federal government for money at least for the next couple years, and these are critical times for companies to get these plants built,' said Abigail Dillen with the environmental law group Earthjustice. The group filed a federal lawsuit last year seeking to block the loan program. At the time of the suspension, at least four utilities had been lined up for loans totaling $1.3 billion -- for projects in Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri. A project in Montana was denied funding last month. Two more were recently withdrawn: last October in Wyoming and earlier this week in Missouri....

snowWI 10 years, 3 months ago

DougCounty, Thank you for that information.

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