Archive for Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kansas House advances coal plant legislation

February 26, 2009, 2:43 p.m. Updated February 26, 2009, 5:17 p.m.


How they voted

On a voice vote, the Kansas House advanced House Bill 2014, a measure allowing construction of two 700-megawatt power plants. An amendment to essentially gut the bill and replace it with one supported by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was rejected 40-82. Here is how the area delegation voted on that amendment.

For the amendment:

  • Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence
  • Marti Crow, D-Leavenworth
  • Paul Davis, D-Lawrence
  • Tony Brown, D-Baldwin City
  • Ann Mah, D-Topeka
  • Don Navinsky, D-Easton

Against the amendment:

  • Anthony Brown, R-Eudora
  • Connie O’Brien, R-Tonganoxie
  • Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence

Absent: Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie

— Legislators who support a plan to build two coal-fired power plants in western Kansas say they’re ready to take on Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for a second year.

The chamber gave first-round approval to the bill Thursday, with a final vote expected today. This time, House Speaker Mike O’Neal said, they expect to have enough votes to override Sebelius’ expected veto of a bill that would allow Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build its plants outside Holcomb, in Finney County.

Sebelius’ administration has blocked the project over concerns about potential carbon-dioxide emissions, and the Democratic governor vetoed three similar bills last year from the Republican-controlled Legislature. The House, under different leadership, couldn’t muster the 84 votes required for an override.

“I hope to get to 84 and I expect to get to 84, whether it’s tomorrow or whether it’s when the time comes that 84 votes are necessary,” House Speaker Mike O’Neal, a Hutchinson Republican, said Thursday. “We want to send the message that this is strongly supported by this branch.”

The House gave the bill preliminary approval after voting 82-40 against an amendment that would have rewritten it to remove language to help Sunflower.

O’Neal said he didn’t see the amendment’s defeat as a test vote. But he did called it “a pretty strong statement against the governor’s plan,” adding, “you never know where some of those votes are going to shake out tomorrow.”

The measure also would limit the authority of the Kansas secretary of health and environment to regulate the greenhouse gases that many scientists link to global warming. Secretary Roderick Bremby cited carbon-dioxide emissions in denying Sunflower an air quality permit for the power plants in October 2007.

Many legislators, especially those from western Kansas, see construction of the plants as economic development. They also say Bremby’s decision made environmental regulation in Kansas uncertain.

Rep. Forrest Knox, an Altoona Republican, said the bill removes that uncertainty and “restores the rule of law,” a reference to Bremby’s decision having been made despite a lack of federal or state CO2 standards.

But Rep. Cindy Neighbor, who offered the failed amendment, called it “basically last year’s bill with some sections worst for Kansans.”

The Shawnee Democrat said the federal government plans to make grants available to states for energy projects and the bill “puts us at the back of the line.”

The bill ties the provisions overturning Bremby’s decision and limiting the secretary’s power to proposals designed to encourage the development of wind farms and other renewable energy sources.

It also includes provisions to set new energy efficiency standards for state buildings and encourage consumers to use their own wind and solar generators for power. Such renewable sources also would have to 20 percent of most utilities peak loads by 2020.

Sunflower wants to sell about 86 percent of the new power to two out-of-state electric cooperatives that are helping finance the project. The new generating capacity, totaling 1,400 megawatts, would be enough to meet the peak demands of 700,000 households, according to one state estimate.


fearsadness14 9 years ago

Why on earth does our state think that we need this? We are getting no power out of these stinkin plants. We are the ones shipping this power out of state, and the power that is sold isn't going to provide very much money for Kansas. Doesn't anyone else notice this? I've spent some time as of late in the Iowa/ South Dakota area, and both of those states have made tremendous strides in the department of wind turbines. A local told me that it really super-charged the economy, as there were numerous companies that all took part in building the turbines, and setting up the proper infrastructure to do so. This coal stuff is garbage, and everyone in the House and Senate know it. They only want it to pass so they can get their pretty penny at the end of the day.

Godot 9 years ago

Obama needs these coal plants to fund his 10 year plan.

"WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's estimate of $646 billion in revenue for the first years of a carbon-capping program to curb climate change is realistic or possibly a little low, policy analysts said on Thursday.

Obama has said he wants a so-called cap and trade system that would put a price on emissions of climate-warming carbon. Companies that emit more than the limit would have to buy emission permits; companies that emit less could sell emission credits......."

Gee, and we thought Bernie Madoff was a master swindler.

kmat 9 years ago

Liberty - if that were the case, then we'd have no protections from any free market ideas. Do you like toxic waste being dumped in your drinking water? Are you old enough to remember the Ohio River catching on fire, many times? See, there are reasons that companies and land owners can't do whatever they want because the interests of the entire public have to be considered.

I can't even believe you made that statement.

yankeelady 9 years ago

If they do manage to get it in , can the governor use the line item veto? The green sections are great, but they have tied it to this lump of coal. Of course if it does get the veto proof majority, I'm sure the next stop will be the courts. In the meantime, the legislature has once again been hijacked by special interests.

Bill Griffith 9 years ago

The green sections leave something to be desired. The net metering is very watered down as just one example. A line item veto cannot be used on this piece of legislation. If it does not pass, the legislature will not be able to bring it up next year since this is year one of a two year cycle on bills. As far as court cases go right now Sunflower/Tri-State/Finney County have filed appeals to the Secretary's final order and the Kansas Supreme Court has transferred the cases to itself, consolidated them, and asked if there is a valid reason why earlier appeals should not be dismissed.

KUDB99 9 years ago

Last time I checked, the environment doesn't stop at property lines, genius. If I pollute my land, because I'm a property owner, and can, because it's my god-given, gun totin' right, does it mean that my pollutants will remain on my property?

The only way that happens is if I put a massive bubble up, all around my lands, and, of course under them too. So no air or water can escape onto other peoples properties. Because I'm a property owner, and I have rights, and what my property produces can't move to other peoples property.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

"Under a free market companies can't pollute on other people's property. Get a clue."

If that's the case, then these plants, nor any other coal or nuclear plant, should ever have been built, anywhere. But they've been built by the thousands, and it's been the "free market" that has allowed it.

Your desired capitalist utopia is one of the more elaborate delusions I've seen on these forums, LO.

ralphralph 9 years ago

If you're going to ban the plants, you need a law to do it under; and, for it to make any difference, you're going to have to get China to stop burning coal, as well. Hillary made it clear where we stand on getting tough with China --- bent over with our hands out. I'm no coal fan, but I don't see wind and solar being capable of forming the foundation of our energy supply .... which leaves nuclear. Gov Kathy isn't going to support new nukes in this lifetime, so that leaves sitting in the dark and shivering as the best option, I suppose.

hornhunter 9 years ago

Lets just shut down all the coal fired power plants on the eastern grid and the western grid on different days and see if all the other generators can keep people like Liberty 1 happy?

Mixolydian 9 years ago

As long as it's not Middle East or Argentinian oil driven energy lets build it coal plants, wind turbines, nuclear, or rats in a wheel.

Bob_Keeshan 9 years ago

tumbilweed (Anonymous) says…

We need to learn to live without using so much energy. Green or not.

Particularly when investing in energy efficiency is the lower per kw hour option available.

The cheapest form of energy is spending money so you use less. Cheaper than coal, cheaper than wind, cheaper than natural gas. Average cost is 3 cents per kw hour.

Will the new coal plants generate energy for 3 cents per kw hour?

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

My guess the feds will step in and shut down the project due the financial mismanagement at Sunflower. Sunflower was hoping the Holcomb plant would bail them out.

The EPA will may well step in and say no way.

Radio news said today NOT clean coal is 15 years away from reality if it is in fact clean. Holcomb will be a tax dollar money hole due to cost overruns..... a real bad investment.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

If the entirety of human existence is best controlled solely by "property rights," what happens when all property is controlled by only a small percentage of the population, which is the inevitable result of unfettered capitalism?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

No, it's you who don't understand capitalism, LO. It's been the predominant economic and social model for this country for more than two centuries, and despite your religious fervor, it will never deliver the egalitarian utopia you expect.

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