Topeka House Speaker Melvin Neufeld on Wednesday declared there would be no attempt to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto of legislation that would have authorized construction of two coal-fired power plants.
The announcement by Neufeld, R-Ingalls, essentially ends legislative action on the most fiercely debated issue of the 2008 session and moves the battle over the two 700-megawatt plants to the courts.
Sebelius, who vetoed three bills dealing with the plants in southwest Kansas, said she hoped the state could now move toward developing a comprehensive energy policy.
"I am pleased that we can close this contentious chapter of our debate on energy policy, and begin to work collaboratively on a comprehensive plan that provides for the power needed to continue to grow our economy, while protecting our environment and maximizing our alternative energy potential," Sebelius said in a statement.
Sebelius has opposed the plants, citing concerns about the project's annual 11 million tons of CO2 emissions to produce electricity, most of which was headed out of state. She also opposed legislative attempts to strip key authority from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in permitting new power plants.
But the project enjoyed widespread support in the Legislature - although it fell just short in the House of getting the required two-thirds majority to overturn Sebelius' veto.
On Wednesday, Neufeld said scheduling conflicts and other circumstances, which he didn't specify, made it impossible to try to muster a veto override when lawmakers officially end the session on May 29.
The project was proposed by Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to expand its operation near Holcomb. Two out-of-state partners would have owned most of the electricity.
Earl Watkins, president and chief executive officer of Sunflower Electric, said the company would continue legal action - seeking reversal of the original permit denial by KDHE Secretary Roderick Bremby.
Supporters of the plants allege Bremby's denial was improper because the project complied with state environmental regulations, there are no state or federal CO2 regulations, and the proposed plants would have emitted less CO2 than other coal-burning plants in the state.