State Senate overrides Sebelius coal plant veto

The Kansas Senate today voted to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ veto of a bill that would allow the construction of two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas.

The vote was 32-7 – five votes more than the 27 votes, or two-thirds majority in the 40-member Senate needed to overturn a veto.

Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, voted to override, and Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, voted to support the veto.

The effect of the veto override, however, was cloudy.

There are still not enough votes in the House to overturn the veto.

Instead, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, is trying to put together a veto-proof margin on a similar bill. That would require 84 votes in the 150-member House.

Earlier today, the House gave first-round approval to that bill, which also would allow the two 700-megawatts plants near Holcomb. The vote was 79-39.

Even though that vote was short of a two-thirds majority, Neufeld said he believed there would be 84 votes for the measure on final passage tomorrow.

“Unless somebody has lied to me,” Neufeld said. If so, that would be enough votes to override an expected veto of that bill.

The maneuvering is in response to a decision last year by the Sebelius administration to deny permits for the $3.6 billion project, citing concerns over the plants’ projected annual emissions of 11 million tons of carbon dioxide and their effect on climate change.

Sebelius has also said that because of the increasing cost of coal, and possible federal regulation of CO2, the power source will lead to increased electric rates. The measures would also strip the state of authority that was cited to reject the project.