We've got two important items about the ongoing Kansas coal throwdown to pass along to readers, courtesy of the Land Institute's climate and energy blog. The first article nicely summarizes how Mass. v. EPA not only galvanized state officials to apply the Court's logic to state anti-pollution laws, but also helped mobilize the public opinion and grassroots activism that have encouraged and sustained Governor Kathleen Sebelius' efforts to stand up to intense political pressure.
The second item reveals that Sebelius is doing more than simply not backing down in the face of legislation that would overturn her decision and tether state action to currently-MIA federal regulations. Speaking at an Earth Day event, Lt. Governor Mark Parkinson revealed that even if the coal industry's legislative allies somehow find the votes to override her, that won't be the end of their legal battle:
"We're certainly going to evaluate all of our options," Parkinson said. "I assure you, there are multiple options, and if Sunflower's out there telling people that all they need to do is get this veto overridden and the plants will be built, and if they believe that, they're sadly mistaken."
Later, Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran was more conciliatory than Parkinson. She said the governor hopes her vetoes will be sustained and is still working toward a compromise.
"But we recognize that there are numerous other barriers to the plant projects," she said. "Litigation is likely, and there is real financing uncertainty with the increased costs of the new coal plants."
Essentially, Parkinson and Sebelius are arguing that further legislative efforts to overturn her next veto would simply be a waste of time and energy. Additional legal arguments over the plants (industry has already challenged the permit denial before the Kansas Supreme Court) might drag out until the Bush administration leaves office and EPA finally is able to follow the U.S. Supreme Court's mandate.
Meanwhile, as Grist pointed out again in its annual Earth Day superlatives list (coal is declared "Year's Biggest Loser"), CO2-emitting coal plants have had a bad year ever since Mass. v. EPA, on account of both rising financial barriers and the growing inevitability of regulation.