Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Coal-battling Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) is reportedly the top choice to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. So if Obama taps her for the Cabinet post, what exactly does this means for the coal fight in her home state, since as a few weeks ago we mentioned that Kansas’ coal lovers are still putting up a fight (more info here).

A departure by Sebelius would make her lieutenant governor, Mark Parkinson, the new guv. From his official bio, we learn that Parkinson entered Kansas politics as a Republican in 1990, served in the state House from 1991 to 1992, and the state Senate from 1993 to 1997. He was chairman of the Kansas Republican Party from 1999 to 2003. In May 2006, Parkinson switched to the Democratic Party, and the following day Sebelius announced that would serve as her running-mate.

Parkinson is the the co-chair of the Kansas Energy Council, sometimes referred to as the state’s “energy czar,” and it appears that Parkinson has stood with her in the coal fight.

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“You cannot say that you are an environmentalist, that you support the environment, that you are part of the green movement, and vote for coal-fired plants that are not needed for this state,” he said last year as the legislature prepared to vote on the issue. And here he is on Kansas public radio talking about the future of energy in the state and highlighting the potential for wind.