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Stunning Flip-Flop in Kansas: New Governor Chooses Coal

Spinning faster than a Kansas twister, the state's new governor has done what he led us to believe he wouldn't: approved massive expansion of the Sunflower coal-fired power plant.

This is a totally unexpected setback for those who took Gov. Mark Parkinson at his earlier word, believing that he would support the clean-energy policies of former-governor Kathleen Sebelius. Sebelius vetoed legislation that would have allowed the Sunflower expansion, then left the state to join President Obama's cabinet—with Parkinson vowing to stand by the veto.

But, Monday, Parkinson demonstrated what we feared: he's no Sebelius. With her out of the way, he announced a deal with Sunflower's CEO to allow an 895-megawatt plant expansion in Holcomb. This is quite a reversal from what he told the Associated Press two days ago:

I would hope that if we are successful in sustaining this veto, that Sunflower would recognize that it's futile to continue to fight this.

We probably shouldn't be surprised at Parkinson's flip-flop—he did the same thing three years ago when he switched parties to join Sebelius as her lieutenant governor.

But we are disappointed. The former governor, Sebelius, set some tough standards. She stood up to Big Coal four times with vetoes of their legislation favoring Sunflower. She drew a line in the Kansas plains and declared that national expansion of coal power—with its horrendous pollution and global warming price tag—stopped at her state's line.

Sebelius, supported by two-thirds of Kansas citizens and Earthjustice, set her state on course to use its most abundant resource—wind—for power and economic expansion. Parkinson, supporting the coal industry, stood in that same wind and, like a weather vane, spun backwards.

Stay tuned...this fight's not over.