GREEN
06/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

New Kansas Governor Caves On Departed Sebelius' Energy Fight

Former Kansas Governor -- and now Secretary of Health and Human Services -- Kathleen Sebelius just saw some of her legacy tossed out by her successor. Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson has come to an agreement with power company Sunflower Electric Corp. to allow them to proceed with greater coal power plant plans than would have been possible with Sebelius in office:

A western Kansas utility would be allowed to build a coal-fired power plant under a deal announced Monday that would end a 19-month dispute between the governor's office and the company.

Legislators passed four bills clearing the way to construction, but then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius -- now the U.S. secretary of health and human services -- vetoed all four.

This is a fight that Sebelius had been fighting for a long time. Back in March of 2008, Grist's David Roberts blogged here at HuffPost about one of those vetoes:

Note that this is not an environmental argument. You don't have to care about climate change to see its logic. Events are likely to conspire to sharply increase the price of coal. You build two new dirty coal plants and you're hanging them around your own neck for the next 50 years. That's short-sighted.

And it has been an epic battle. Then-president of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, also blogged here at HuffPost about the next front -- when the coal-favoring elements of the Kansas legislature tried to override a Sebelius veto (and nearly succeeded):

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.

Now, Sebelius' only consolation is that Sunflower has agreed to generate 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020, and that there will be certain incentives, according to the AP, for consumers to use wind and solar power.