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Rocky Mountain

Proponents of an 895-megawatt coal-fired power plant expansion project in Holcomb, Kansas have resubmitted an application for an air permit. The first application was rejected by the state environmental agency in 2007 due to concerns over air and global warming pollution. This was the first coal plant air permit rejected on those grounds in the United States.

A troublesome new chapter has opened in the matter of Sunflower Electric's attempt to more than double the electrical output at its existing coal-fired plant in Holcomb, Kansas.

After digging through 10,000 pages of documents, Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman discovered that Sunflower in the past had defaulted on its debt service payments to the federal government, and that as a consequence the federal government now has effective oversight over Sunflower's business decisions, including the attempted expansion of its existing plant.

The Kansas state legislature today gave final passage to a bill authorizing massive expansion of the Sunflower coal-fired power plant -- but there is unexpected good news in the vote ... it's 10 votes short of being veto-proof in the House.

This means that the promised veto from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is more likely than ever to survive. An earlier vote in the state House had a margin of only five votes. She is expected to veto the bill next week.

On the heels of last night’s speech by President Obama, the governor of Kansas is more resolute than ever in her opposition to the proposed Sunflower coal-fired power plant expansion. She vetoed pro-Sunflower legislation three times last year and is poised to do the same with a new bill coming to a vote tomorrow in the Legislature.

Contradictory actions by the coal industry this week illustrate how treacherous the road is to a clean energy future for America.

On Tuesday, to our delight, developers of the proposed Highwood coal-fired power plant in Montana surrendered and announced that they would instead build natural gas and wind-powered generating plants. The credit for this should go to Earthjustice attorneys Abigail Dillen and Jenny Harbine, whose two years of legal action against the plant obviously paid off.

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