Archive for Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is another coal plant ‘Hail Mary’ in store?

May 14, 2008


Coal fight spending topped $135,000 in April

Lobbyists involved in the legislative battle over coal-fired power plants have reported spending more than $135,000 in April. Most of the money was spent on media advertising or other campaigns designed to pressure lawmakers, their reports show. Sunflower reported spending about $70,000 on lobbying in April, the bulk of it on media advertising. Its allies spent an additional $44,000.

The Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy spent almost $12,000 on its efforts to persuade legislators to oppose the plants. Since October, the parties have spent $947,000 on lobbying.

- The Associated Press

— Will there be another "Hail Mary" attempt to get approval of the coal-burning plants project in southwest Kansas?

Opponents and supporters of the project said Tuesday that it's possible.

"It's not totally, totally over yet," Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said.

"The pro-coal forces seem to come from the Hillary Clinton school of never give up," Parkinson said.

Here's the situation: Legislators twice approved bills that would allow the construction of the two 700-megawatt, coal-fired units near Holcomb.

And twice Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the measures, citing concerns with climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions and provisions that strip the state of air quality permit authority. The Senate easily overturned her vetoes, which requires a two-thirds majority.

But the House has fallen short of an override, needing 84 votes in the 125-member chamber.

Upon ending the 90-day legislative session, supporters of the plants again approved the project, this time bundling it into one bill with other popular economic initiatives.

Sebelius is expected to veto this one, too.

If she does, supporters of the plants would still have one more opportunity to override.

The session officially ends May 29, which is usually a ceremonial conclusion known as "Sine Die," the Latin phrase for "without another day." While often a brief meeting where few lawmakers even show up, there have been times the Legislature has conducted business on Sine Die.

And that's a possibility here.

Steve Miller, a spokesman for Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp., the project's developers, noted that large majorities of House members at one time or another have voted for the coal-burning plants.

He said it was possible, "if we get all (of the supporters) to show up, we could override." But Miller also said he didn't know how the session would end.

Assuming Sebelius vetoes the bill, Parkinson said, another veto override attempt is possible. But, he added, "it would take an enormous effort to get 84 members of the House back here for an override."

Especially, he said, because the last bill that includes the plants actually received fewer votes - 76 - than previous coal bills.

But even if the Legislature is finished with the issue, the battle will continue.

Sunflower has filed an administrative appeal of the original permit denial by Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby. In addition, Sunflower and one of its partners, Tri-State Generation and Transmission of Westminster, Colo., each has filed lawsuits against the decision. And Finney County commissioners have appealed the KDHE decision in court.


Evan Ridenour 9 years, 10 months ago

Water is honestly the bigger issue which is why I am surprised it hasn't been a bigger issue of discussion. Try farming in western KS without water...

igby 9 years, 10 months ago

If you don't know by now whats happening your blind. The next years electric bills will double what your paying now. Sebelius will get the blame for the cost increases and soon she'll be out of office.

number1jayhawker 9 years, 10 months ago

If this would generate much needed revenues $$$ for the state of Kansas, then I am all for them building a new plant.Like a poster stated earlier, just because most of the product is being exported out of state, does not make it a bad thing.

ENGWOOD 9 years, 10 months ago

I still believe that Uncle Melvin should have tied it to one of Obama Mama's gambling bills to see if she really had any testicular fortitude

Bill Griffith 9 years, 10 months ago

Assuming the override does not happen, and that is the probable scenario, will Tri-State pull the plug on the project some time in June as was intimated earlier this year? This is Tri-State's call, not Sunflower's. Right now there are 8 lawsuits and one administrative appeal in the works as well. If the legislature does override, how long will this morass last from a legal perspective?

Bruce Bertsch 9 years, 10 months ago

So the folks of SW Kansas want to drain the aquifer and pollute the skies for a little bit of green. The Economic Devo stuff this was tied to on the third try is what makes it unconstitutional. Our legislators don't seem to care. And for those who want to bitch and moan about the Westar plants in NE Kansas; Westar has already announced plans to reduce emissions. There is nothing of benefit in these plants for the vast majority of Kansans; that is the bottom line.

janeyb 9 years, 10 months ago

My understanding is the coal plants were placed on a bill extending economic development measures that are in place until December 2009. They don't have to pass this session. They can be taken up again next year. It was just a puny attempt by Neufeld and others to get more votes for the plants, but they lost votes instead.

dirkleisure 9 years, 10 months ago

The issue of power being sold out of state was brought up specifically in reply to the assertion that failure to construct the plants would result in a doubling of electricity rates in Kansas.As a response to that argument, it is a sound one and makes no comment on whether the policy of selling power out of state has merit.But at least now we know that SW Kansas needs a new power plant because it doesn't have Bill Self. Would they settle for Bonnie Henrickson?

gr 9 years, 10 months ago

Checking reality - ever heard of speculation and hedge bets?

Dale Stringer 9 years, 10 months ago

We should also shut down all the coal power plants in the state that currently polute more than the new plants are predicted to put out.

LeonTrotsky 9 years, 10 months ago

Ah, power and money...and knuckleheads!

Joe Hyde 9 years, 10 months ago

The fact remains that 85% of the power to be generated by these two proposed plants is earmarked for export to Colorado and Texas, with Kansas getting the remaining 15%.Again, this raises the fundamental question: Why doesn't Sunflower build the plants within the borders of the states that most want the plants' output?Oh, that's right; I forgot! They already tried putting their plants in those states but Colorado and Texas rejected the permits based on environmental safety concerns!Despite this, many members of the Kansas Senate and House would pimp our environment for the pleasure of power clients across the border who are OK with getting their electric desires satisfied "on the side".

eb 9 years, 10 months ago

If this would generate much needed revenues $$$ for the state of Kansas, then I am all for them building a new plant.Yes, but at what cost? Bremby keeps going back and forth saying they're going to monitor carbon dioxide emissions and there will be restrictions, etc. etc... This isn't an issue of generating power--there are other ways to do that. A more pressing issue is pollution and what the heck we're filling our atmosphere with. Come on people, let's get past focusing on just money and become educated about issues that could have adverse effects on the environment now and far into the future.

BigDog 9 years, 10 months ago

It is about time this governor finds a way to have some economic development in this state that creates private sector job. This piece of legislation contains some very important economic development opportunities for the state. One such project would bring a wind turbine manufacturing facility to Topeka, creating 750-800 new jobs. Along with an expansion of Hill's Pet Product and the Intermodal Transfer Station in Gardner.During her years in office Kansas has had only growth of jobs in the government sector.

BigDog 9 years, 10 months ago

moderationman (Anonymous) says:So the folks of SW Kansas want to drain the aquifer and pollute the skies for a little bit of green. The Economic Devo stuff this was tied to on the third try is what makes it unconstitutional.---------------------------------------She has signed bills for years which the constitutionality has been questionable. This is her latest excuse to hide behind. I can tell you several bills that she signed this year that contain more than one subject. The budget bills often contain provisos that regard statutes and have nothing to do with appropriations.She might wanna be careful on this one because I am sure there are groups who may just come back and challenge the constitutionality of some legislation that she supports and has signed over the last few years.

Evan Ridenour 9 years, 10 months ago

My only problem with all of this is how much time was spent by the legislature trying to push something through that obviously wasn't going to get by a veto... not once... but thrice!And to make things even worse the third time they bundled it with a bunch of non-related items which is blatently unconstitutional. So not only can't it get by a veto but if it somehow did it would be struck down by the Kansas Supreme Court. What a monumental waste of time that could of been better spent on other potential more important issues that actually could of been passed into law!

BigDog 9 years, 10 months ago

The whole 20% staying in the state is such a joke .... tell me what percentage of wheat stays in the state and for that matter corn, beef, airplanes, cars, etc. The state gets all of the pollution from these products also yet most of the product is shipped out of state.That is called interstate and international trade.Opposed to or in favor of the coal plants, this is a lame excuse.

ENGWOOD 9 years, 10 months ago

We will get all the pollution from the BNSF Intermodal freight Facility forever and the majority of the product will never be sold in Kansas. Oh but that is Eco Devo for NE Kansas and thats good for Obama's Mama.

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