Kansas, without coal-fighting guv, approves new plant
That better be one helluva of a health care plan you’re drafting, Kathleen Sebelius, because Kansas already misses you.
The state approved a new coal-fired power plant today, undoing a signature environmental accomplishment of former Gov. Sebelius, who left the state last week to become President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sebelius four times vetoed plans for two new 700 megawatt generators planned by Sunflower Electric Power. She scotched the deals on the basis of carbon dioxide emissions the plants would produce, the first rejection of the sort in the U.S.
Today her replacement, Mark Parkinson, announced a compromise with Sunflower and the state legislature that would let Sunflower build a coal-fired plant of about half of its originally proposed size. The plant comes in exchange for legislative support for a renewable energy package supported by Parkinson and Sebelius.
Kansas Jackass laments the move but notes the silver lining:
The green provisions included in Parkinson’s “Pass this bill or no dice” legislation are the very strong green provisions proposed by [former] Governor Kathleen Sebelius at the beginning of the legislative session. We’re talking honest-to-goodness net-metering…
Sunflower has also agreed to a whole slew of offsets for their CO2 emissions, including pledging to produce 179 MW through wind and building an algae reactor to capture CO2, along with shutting down the oil-fired generating units in Garden City. All good things.
Sunflower PR info [PDF] on the new plant talks up its ability capture dirty particulate emissions, but doesn’t mention plans to capture CO2 emissions. The deal also includes a notable provision that limits the ability of the state Secretary of Health and Environment to block future plants on the basis of CO2. This seems to acknowledge the key role that Rod Bremby played in backing Sebelius’s position (Grist interview with Bremby here).
When word leaked about Sebelius’ HHS nomination in February, Grist reported on what it meant for coal in Kansas, especially considering Parkinson was a Republican (and former state party chairman) until he decided to join the Sebelius in 2006.
There’s also this Grist interview with Sebelius last summer, when she was considered a potential Obama VP candidate.