What's Right with Kansas
Topeka, KS -- Well, King Coal did its best. The insiders in the Kansas political world huffed and puffed. The Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives kept a vote open for two hours while the coal industry's allies tried desperately to bludgeon four more members into voting to override Governor Kathleen Sebelius's veto of a bill denying the state's chief health officer the right to block coal-fired power plants. And when the votes couldn't be found to override the veto, some legislators threatened to hire a private lawyer with public money to sue the health office for exceeding his authority. (The coal companies, of course, have ample resources to sue on their own -- and it's unlikely that funding for the mammoth Sunflower proposal would still be alive by the time any lawsuit ended.)
But none of it worked. Kansas citizens have spoken out.The Sierra Club chapter in the state organized day and night for weeks and, instead of getting closer to a veto override, the coal forces got further away.
The initial assault by the coal industry was an ad featuring pictures of Hugo Chavez, Iran's President Ahmadinejad, and Vladimir Putin, claiming that if Kansas couldn't build the Sunflower coal plant, it would be forced to import natural gas from these three despots. Since Kansas produces no coal, but a lot of natural gas (and actually exports gas to other states), these ads didn't go down very well. And the campaign got even more frenetic as it became clear that Sebelius was going to make her decision stick. Here's a sample quote from One newspaper story on why Kansas said no to coal: