As Yogi Berra said, “It’s d©j vu all over again,”
The third time should have been a charm. But in Kansas, up against a massive coal lobby and a partisan Congress, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has had to veto a proposal for new coal-fired power plants in western Kansas for the fourth time.
One news article summarizes that Sebelius and lawmakers “have battled over whether the plants represent practical energy policy and economic development, or whether the plants are an outdated and destructive energy source.“ (For more extensive coverage of the battle, see past Climate Progress posts here, here and here.)
Reflective of this summary, the reasons Sebelius gave for vetoing the coal plants yet again include:
- Kansans do not yet need the electricity, most of which would be exported to Colorado and other western states.
- Kansans’ energy demands should be met by the states’ renewable resources, notably wind and energy efficiency, which will create clean energy jobs and promote the economic development of western Kansas for western Kansans.
- As federal carbon constraints loom in the near-term, it would be short-sighted and ill-informed for Kansas to build new, dirty coal-fired plants.
- Kansas needs to develop a comprehensive energy policy, and for the reasons above and others, this is not it.
So the legislature in cahoots with the coal lobby is at it again, but it’s important to note that this year’s fight isn’t likely to resemble last time. A few development will change the game.
First, Governor Sebelius has been nominated (not yet confirmed) as Obama’s head of Health and Human Services. The Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson has stood with Sebelius on her vetoes.
Second and likely more destructive to plant advocates is that the participating Colorado utility (Tri-State, a critical financing partner for the project which was slated to receive most of the energy generated) has announced that it is considering other options. Due to last year’s vetoes and delays, Tri-State is revisiting its long-term strategy and looking to conservation and renewable energy (which makes sense given Colorado’s renewable electricity standard and the State’s progressive energy policies).
Before Sebelius departs for her HHS post in DC, Kansans should weigh her foresight with Tri-State’s new position and realize that the plants are indeed “outdated and destructive” while renewable options such as wind “represent practical policy policy and economic development.”
No Kansas Governor should have to veto these plants a fifth time.