Kansas utility seeks to depose Sebelius

KANSAS - A company suing Kansas over its refusal to issue permits for two coal-fired plants is asking a federal judge to allow it to take a deposition from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius before she is confirmed as health and human services secretary.

Sunflower Electric Power Corp. asked U.

S. District Judge Eric Melgren for expedited discovery in its federal lawsuit against Sebelius and the state. It wants to take a videotaped deposition of Sebelius on or before March 18.

The utility said the governor's likely confirmation and move to Washington, D.C. would make it more difficult and costly for Sunflower to depose her.

"Indeed, deferring her deposition will be more difficult for Defendant Sebelius herself, who will have an extremely busy schedule in her position as HHS Secretary," the company argued in its filing.

Sebelius is being sued as governor, meaning she would no longer be a defendant in the case once she resigns, according to the filing. But the utility contends the deposition is necessary to support the company's claims.

Her spokeswoman, Beth Martino, said the state is reviewing the filing.

Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby denied the Hays-based company's applications for air quality permits for the power plants in October 2007, citing potential carbon dioxide emissions and the possible effects on public health and the environment.

Sunflower Electric has fought that denial on several fronts, including a federal lawsuit seeking to prohibit the state from considering carbon dioxide emissions in its application.

Sunflower contends the decision to block the coal-fired plants violates its constitutional rights. It argues the state is seeking to block the interstate sale and distribution of electricity.

The attorney general's office argues a federal lawsuit interferes with the appeal of the state's decision. It contends the lawsuit seeks to force state officials to disregard Kansas law and the dangers of carbon dioxide emissions in evaluating the application.

Melgren has yet to rule on an earlier motion by the state to dismiss the lawsuit.


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