Coal-plant proposal resurfaces

? A plan to authorize construction of two 700-megawatt coal-fired power plants has re-surfaced today in the Legislature.

Supporters of the plants have placed a bill for the project into legislation that includes a number of other economic development proposals that have already gained widespread support in the Legislature.

One of those is a proposal for the state to back bonds for the intermodal freight hub –a giant shipment and distribution center — planned near Gardner.

A House-Senate conference committee was crafting a mega economic development bill for consideration by the full Legislature later today.

State Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, and chair of that conference committee said it was appropriate for the coal-fired plants to be paired with other economic development legislation.

But state Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, opposed the action. “Why are we rehashing this? I don’t think we’re serving the people’s interests,” by tying the coal-fired project to other bills.

At the center of the dispute are the two plants proposed for southwest Kansas.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed legislation authorizing the plants because of concerns about the project’s carbon dioxide emissions. She has also criticized the legislation because it would strip the state’s environmental agency of much of its authority in granting permits for power plants.

The House on Thursday fell four votes short of overriding her veto. But now that bill plus a companion measure will be placed in the conference committee’s bill.