Congressman Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, sent a letter to Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, on Tuesday urging Parkinson to support a bill that would allow two coal-fired plants to be built in western Kansas.
With Gov. Kathleen Sebelius likely leaving in the near future to become the health and human services secretary, Parkinson could decide if HB 2014 is vetoed or signed.
Tiahrt is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who is running for governor.
The bill would allow the construction of two coal-fired power plants in Holcomb and block the state’s top regulator, Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby, of the authority to regulate carbon dioxide.
In 2007, Bremby blocked permits for the 1,400 megawatts expansions by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. citing concerns over the carbon dioxide the plants would release.
During the 2008 legislative session, Sebelius vetoed three similar bills. She’s called this year’s effort “DOA.”
Parkinson has declined to say where he stands on issues, but has said that he shares Sebelius’ priorities.
Below is Tiahrt’s letter.
March 10, 2009
The Honorable Mark Parkinson Office of the Lt. Governor Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave., Ste. 212S Topeka, KS 66612-1590
Dear Lt. Governor Parkinson:
I write to call your attention to recent developments involving further lost economic opportunities in Western Kansas and ask for your assistance in helping address the situation. As you know, Garden City Community College this month was asked to return a $2 million federal grant that was intended to be used to train workers constructing two electrical generating plants near Holcomb. Because of this, the college also lost out on approximately $2 million in private matching dollars for a total economic loss of $4 million.
Because Governor Sebelius has blocked construction of the power plants, the U.S. Department of Labor is demanding that the $2 million grant for job training be returned. We were aware of the thousands of direct Kansas jobs delayed because of the governor’s actions; now we learn that even our colleges are suffering financial consequences. Our state economy has enough economic challenges without further obstructions that will only delay new jobs and educational opportunities.
As I have previously stated, the clean coal power plants proposed for Western Kansas could be constructed entirely with private dollars and operated by a company from Hays. We must work together toward energy independence using an all-of-the-above approach. Wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal, hydrogen fuel cell, clean coal, petroleum, and biofuels all need to be a part of the solution.
Should circumstances dictate that you become Governor of Kansas, I ask you to permit the electrical generating plants to be constructed in a timely manner. More delays will only lead to higher construction costs, further hardships for Kansans seeking a job, and negative financial consequences to institutions like Garden City Community College. By permitting the private sector to move forward with construction of the electrical generating plants, you can send a strong message that Kansas is open for business. Jobs will be created, state revenue will increase, and educational institutions like Garden City Community College will be able to play an expanded role helping educate workers.
Thank you for your attention to this critical energy, jobs, and now educational issue facing our state.
Todd Tiahrt Member of Congress