Deliver Us – in Kansas

In Kansas, fence-posts often are made from stone.

There is not much to burn, if you need to stay warm, and there is no power.

Sebelius vetoes bill that would resurrect coal-burning plant

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TOPEKA | Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today vetoed legislation to allow a sizeable coal plant expansion in western Kansas.

The bill would have eliminated the discretion a state regulator used last year to block Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s plans to add two coal-burning generators to its existing Holcomb, Kan., power station.

Sebelius said that she couldn’t support an erosion of an environmental regulator’s powers and that the bill didn’t do enough to encourage renewable energy.

“Instead of building two new coal plants, which would produce 11 million new tons of carbon dioxide each year, I support pursuing other, more promising energy and economic development alternatives,” she said in a statement accompanying the veto.

The long-anticipated veto sets up a showdown with the Legislature, where leaders are counting votes to see whether they have the two-thirds majorities needed to override a veto. Debate and controversy surrounding the coal plant, climate change and state energy policy have dominated the 2008 legislative session.

In her veto message, Sebelius reiterated her offer to negotiate with lawmakers and Sunflower to reach a compromise. She has said she would support a plan calling for only one generator.

She also announced that she will form a new group, the Kansas Energy and Environmental Policy Advisory Group, to investigate ways the state can encourage reductions in greenhouse gases.

The vetoed bill included some modest environmental initiatives, including new renewable energy standards for many utilities and a provision to allow those with solar panels on their homes to sell excess power to their utility.

Many lawmakers, led by the House Speaker and Senate president, argue that there was no legal basis for the rejection of the power plant and that the decision is costing the state jobs and economic investment. They warn of higher electric bills for western Kansas and accuse Sebelius of pandering to environmentalists.

The Senate appears to have more than enough votes to override the veto. The House, however, appears to be several votes short. The Legislature has 30 days to attempt an override.

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