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April 07, 2008

The Battle in Kansas Continues Over Gargantuan Greenhouse Gas-Spewing Coal-Fired Power Plants

Last month, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a state assembly bill to grant Sunflower Electric the necessary air permit to construct two 700-megawatt coal-fired power plants. Governor Sebelius' administration first denied the air permit back in October due to concerns over global warming emissions.

Unwilling to take no for an answer, the Kansas state House passed a new bill last Friday, SB 148, that not only allows the expansion of the massive coal plants in western Kansas, but also restricts the Secretary of Health and Environment from denying air permits and issuing emission standards (read: doing his job) without the approval of the (not-so-green) legislature.

The bill passed 83-41, falling just one vote short of reaching the two-thirds majority necessary to override an all-but-certain veto from Governor Sebelius. Neither side has any doubt the fight will continue over the next few weeks as bill supporters in the House scramble to secure more support.

The struggle over the Sunflower case cannot but remind us of the uncertainty prevailing over coal, currently in limbo between business interests and rising concerns about climate change. Environmentalists and industrialists alike will wait with bated breath in the coming weeks to see how the cards may fall in America’s heartland.

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