In a show of the increasing influence of climate change concerns at the state level, the Kansas legislature failed yesterday to override Governor Kathleen Seblius’ veto of a bill that would have opened the door for expansion of Sunflower Electric Power Corp’s (“Sunflower”) coal-fired power plant in Holcomb, Kansas. Although the Kansas Senate easily approved the veto override by a vote of 32 to 7, the House fell four votes short.
Legislative leaders who supported the project told Sebelius last week to accept a compromise that would reduce the size of the project from 1,400 megawatts to 1,200 megawatts, or face a veto override. Sebelius, who had already vetoed the 1,400 megawatt power plant and proposed a single 660 megawatt facility, rejected the proposal, citing concerns over projected emissions of 11 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
The showdown between Sebelius and the legislature resulted from a decision by Kansas Secretary of Health and Environment Rod Bremby last October to deny an air-quality permit for Sunflower on climate change grounds. Legislators argued that the decision to hold up the project would damage Kansas’ business climate and result in higher costs for electricity.