Kansas legislature ends efforts to win approval for coal plants

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Legislature's debate on coal and electric power is over for this year, but the controversy will linger for months — on the campaign trail and in the courts.

After failing twice to override vetoes by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld threw in the towel Wednesday, calling off a third effort May 29 to clear the way for two coal-fired power plants in western Kansas.

That does not mean the issue is at an end, however. Officials of Sunflower Electric Power Corp. vowed to continue their push for the project. They hope to build two 700-megawatt coal-burning plants at the utility's Holcomb power station in southwest Kansas. They plan to meet with their utility partners early next month to chart their next move.

The debate thrust Kansas into the forefront of the debate over fossil fuels, climate change and renewable energy arguments. Power plant opponents contended that burning coal contributes to climate change, but supporters said coal is still an important energy source for the nation.

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