The Issues of Kansas:
On January 20, 2012, we established a new section to post Late Breaking Conservation Information for public consumption. Go here.
The following is a special section of Executive Summaries of the environmental issues facing our state. Topics and their links are as follows:
Arkansas River Restorations
Confined Animal Feeding Facilities
Kansas River Issues
Kansas River Recreation
Missouri River Issues
Population: Growth slows, but the explosion isn't over
South Lawrence Trafficway
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Water: Questions About Atrazine
Wind Energy: An emerging opportunity
Wind Power Chapter Position
Confined Animal Feeding Facilities.
By Craig Volland - email@example.com
Kansas hosts some of the world’s largest confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) especially cattle feedlots and hog factories. These are typically located in the arid, drought-prone areas of western Kansas. In the 1990s and early 2000’s the Kansas Chapter worked with rural citizens who were fighting proposed new CAFOs. We succeeded in getting new regulations through the legislature in the late 1990s. However these are generally inadequate to protect the Ogallala aquifer and do little to protect neighbors from the dust, noxious odors and other gases coming off these operations. They did, however, require a great deal more reporting of data from CAFOs that helps the Chapter monitor their impacts on the environment.
Our Legislative Director in Topeka is available to provide assistance to rural citizens who are hard pressed to convey their concerns from such a distance. This effort ties in to the Chapter's focus on improving and protecting water quality in the state and building mutual understanding with family farmers. The Chapter continues to monitor the environmental impacts of CAFOs in Kansas.
In the Kansas City area the Chapter supports efforts by the Kansas City Food Circle Project (www.kcfoodcircle.org) to connect food consumers with small, family farmers who produce organically grown vegetables and humanely raised, free-range meats and dairy. The Chapter is the largest co-sponsor of the KCFC’s annual Eat Local and Organic - Farmers Exhibition.
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Kansas River Issues
By Laura Calwell, Kansas Riverkeeper for Friends of the Kaw
In November of 2011 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued a public notice for comments on potential expansion Kansas River dredging operations by almost 50%, an increase from 2.2 millions to 3.2 million tons. Five private companies want approval for fifteen dredging sites to include the ten existing sites and opening up three sites in areas previously banned for dredging because of unacceptable degradation to the river bed.
Dredging destroys the river channel, causing erosion that threatens valuable farmland, bridges, roads, flood control measures, and wildlife habitat. It also stirs up sediments and pollutants that are expensive to remove from our drinking water.
Dredging operations also pose potential dangers to recreational boaters.
While the official public comment period ended on December 9, 2011, Kale Horton (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the USACE said that comments concerning these permits would be accepted through out 2012 as a final decision would not be made until the end of 2012. Additional comments should include a request for a new environmental impact statement and public hearing and reference a new study being released in early 2012 from K-State researchers (and funded by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks) that documents the extensive environmental damage that dredging causes to the Kansas River. Preliminary findings include:
- The scientists have documented riverbed incision in dredged reaches, which is most likely also causing excessive bank erosion both upstream and downstream of dredge sites.
- Private in-channel dredging operations on sand bed rivers like the Kansas River cause deepening and widening of the channel and accelerate erosion of the banks. As a result, dredging lowers the water level of the river and the adjacent water table in the floodplain.
- This creates the risk for harm to public river uses (such as water treatment facilities, municipal wells, bridge footings, etc.) as well as to fish communities throughout the watershed, including endangered species.
Another critical issue concerning the health of the Kansas River is excess nutrients. Nutrient pollution, including phosphorus and nitrogen, has long been a problem in Kansas. Nutrients, which enter Kansas surface water most commonly from sewage treatment plants and as runoff from agricultural sites, have negatively affected hundreds of Kansas streams. While nutrients are essential in certain amounts, excessive nutrients can result in algal blooms that deprive water systems of oxygen, harm spawning grounds and nursery habitats, kill fish and create oxygen-starved “dead’ zones where fish and other aquatic life cannot survive. As Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has recognized, blue-green algae resulting from nutrient pollution has caused taste and odor problems in numerous drinking water reservoirs and in some instances toxic algal blooms have closed reservoirs and lakes for use as drinking water sources and for recreational use.
The problem of nutrient pollution, however, is not just a problem for Kansas. Run-off ends up causing problems far downstream. One of the most well know “dead” zones, for example, is a large oxygen- deprived zone in the Gulf of Mexico, into which waters from Kansas rivers and streams ultimately flow.
Phosphorus is particularly problematic. Necessary in certain amounts but harmful in excess, phosphorus is a common element of agricultural fertilizers. After use, phosphorus is ultimately deposed in waterways, causing the harm described above. Imposing numeric criteria for phosphorus will help farmers apply the chemical more carefully, helping save not only the aquatic system but also the earth’s limited supply of phosphorus.
Kansas has made little progress in regulating nutrient pollution since the state adopted subjective, narrative criteria for nutrients in 1987. KDHE has held numerous meetings and prepared various analyses, but has resisted taking any actual action in developing numeric criteria.
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Kansas River Recreation
By Laura Calwell, Kansas Riverkeeper for Friends of the Kaw
Background and Progress: Since the five agency Kansas River Recreation Committee was authorized in the 1996 legislative session much progress has been made to provide access to the Kansas River and thus improve and promote recreational usage. In 1996 only three access ramps existed on the Kansas River along with several access ramps on tributaries. From January of 2008 to April of 2011, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) hired Mike Calwell, a part time consultant, to work with communities in the Kansas River Valley to plan and build access ramps to the Kansas River. Access ramps were added in Junction City, Ogden, Wamego, Kaw River State Park, above and below the north end of the Topeka Coffer Dam and under the Turner Bridge in Kansas City, KS (KCK). A portage path around the WaterOne Coffer Dam east of the I-435 Bridge was also added. From 2003 to 2008 access ramps were added to the Kansas River in Manhattan, St. George, Lecompton/Perry, De Soto, Edwardsville, and Kaw Point in KCK. Access ramps to the Kansas River are planned in 2012 for Belvue and Shawnee. KDWPT has and will contributed additional funds for construction materials for all or most of the access ramps. KDPWT has also broadened the Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats (FISH) program to leases for public boating access on private property.
Current issues concerning Kansas River Recreation:
- The only stretch of the Kansas River that does not have any immediate plans for public access is the 30 miles between Belvue and Kaw River State Park in Topeka.
- Because of recent deaths associated with the Topeka Coffer Dam, the City of Topeka is being lobbied to structurally improve the dam to make passage safe at all water levels.
- In January of 2012 the Kansas River Water Trail project was selected by the U.S. Department of Interior as one of the top 100 projects as part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors. Strategy is needed to gain federal support of this grassroots, locally driven initiative.
- Funding for signage at access ramps is needed to inform boaters about the specific area (distance to next access ramp and location of hazards) and boating safety.
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Questions and Answers About Atrazine
By Terry Shistar
1. What is atrazine? Atrazine is an herbicide in the family known as "chlorinated triazines". Triazines have a common mode of action and similar toxicology. It is used to control weeds in corn, sorghum, and some other crops. It acts by inhibiting photosynthesis. The crop plants are not affected because they contain an enzyme that breaks down atrazine.
2. What are the health effects of atrazine? Long term low level exposure to atrazine in animals has been shown to cause cancer, increased mortality, reduced weight gain, increased irritability, anemia, enlargement of the heart, and irregular heartbeat. Two-day exposure to low levels resulted in chromosome breakage in hamsters. Epidemiological studies also link atrazine to birth defects.
3. Atrazine supporters claim that if atrazine had caused any heart effects, then one would expect an increased incidence of heart attack deaths in a highly exposed population. Is this true? No. The effect is an enlargement of the heart and arrhythmia, not heart attacks.
4. What are the ecological effects of atrazine? Because atrazine is an herbicide and interferes with photosynthesis, it affects all types of ecosystems. On dry land, it can eliminate sensitive plants where it is present because of drift or runoff. Earthworms exposed to atrazine experienced weight loss, reproductive failure, and death. However, atrazine breaks down relatively quickly when exposed to light and air.
Atrazine has more lasting impacts on aquatic ecosystems because it decomposes more slowly there. Some of the chemicals it decomposes to have similar effects to atrazine. Atrazine affects the species composition of algae, which has impacts on animals that eat the algae and animals that eat them. "Algae", like "grass" or "broad-leaved plant" refers to not one species, but many. To say that a chemical is harmless because it encourages growth of some algae while discouraging others is like saying it's fine to spray 2,4-D on a soybean field because even though the soybeans will die, other plants will grow even better. Some algae support fish life better than others. Some algae are even toxic.
Another effect that atrazine has on aquatic ecosystems is that it kills large aquatic plants. Large aquatic plants serve some important functions in the aquatic ecosystem. First, they serve as a surface on which other organisms--algae and aquatic invertebrates--can live. Those organisms are food for many fish. When we eliminate the large plants, those small organisms have fewer places to live, so the fish have less food. Another major function of those large plants is to provide refuges for small fish, where they can escape predators--sometimes their parents. In some of the experiments, atrazine resulted in major impacts on reproduction in fish because the young had no refuge from predators. Atrazine is also known to affect the endocrine system of animals. Exposure of alligator eggs to atrazine has resulted in sex reversal. Recent reports of frogs with gross malformation suggest that some environmental toxin is probably affecting frogs.
5. What levels of atrazine are harmful to humans? There is no known safe level of exposure to atrazine. Any level can be expected to increase the chance of getting cancer or endocrine system disruption.
6. What levels of atrazine are harmful to ecosystems? Concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb have been shown to have significant impacts on ecosystems.
7. Atrazine supporters say that atrazine only causes one kind of tumor in one strain of rat. Is this true? It is false. Atrazine has been shown to cause tumors in the mammary glands, testes, lymph system, and uterus in rats of two strains. Another test on another strain performed under contract to Ciba Geigy by IBT, which had submitted fraudulent test results to EPA, was discarded. It also showed that atrazine caused cancer. A test in mice commissioned by Ciba Geigy was inconclusive, but another test performed by an independent researcher found that atrazine caused cancer of the lymph system.
Some of the epidemiological studies were unable to focus on atrazine since farmers who used atrazine also use other herbicides. Studies of farming communities in this country have found a positive association between non-Hodgkins lymphoma and atrazine use. A study done in Kansas came to the conclusion that although triazine use (alone and with 2,4- D) was associated with increased incidence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, only the association with 2,4-D use was statistically significant. (This study was designed to look at the effects of 2,4-D and related chemicals.)
Other epidemiological studies showed that women who were exposed to triazine herbicides were 2.7 times as likely to develop ovarian cancer as those not exposed.
Despite all of this evidence, EPA's cancer classification was based solely on one rat study and the equivocal mouse study because EPA's pesticide registration system relies almost completely on studies submitted by the manufacturer, and the second rat study submitted by Ciba Geigy was not completed at the time the cancer review was performed. EPA is now performing a Special Review of the triazines, and the additional studies are under review.
8. Atrazine supporters say EPA's Scientific Advisory Panel has twice rejected quantitative risk assessment for atrazine. Is this true? Yes. Nevertheless, EPA decided that it was appropriate to perform a quantitative risk assessment.
9. Atrazine supporters say that atrazine is not estrogenic. Is this true? No. Both Ciba Geigy's own studies and those of researchers at Tulane University and the University of Florida demonstrate that atrazine is estrogenic. The findings are not, as atrazine supporters claim, limited to one strain of rat. EPA has never accepted Ciba Geigy's interpretation of the hormonal effects. In some animals, it binds with the estrogen receptor. In others, it binds with the progesterone receptor and also increases the production of estrogen.
10. Atrazine supporters say that work on atrazine at the University of Kansas supports a 20 ppb aquatic life protection standard. Is this true? No. Experiments at KU by DeNoyelles, Dewey, and Kettle showed significant ecological impacts at all concentrations tested, including 20 ppb, which was the lowest concentration they tested.
11. Do environmentalists have any concerns about the impacts of the current atrazine criteria? If the agricultural community cannot reduce their chemical dependency, they may end up using other chemicals that are equally hazardous in some respects. If they use more 2,4-D, more people will be exposed through drift to this carcinogen. If they use more sulfonylureas, it may result in serious ecological problems, since these chemicals cause problems at concentrations below which they can be detected. EPA and the state should ensure that any pesticide applied to fields stays on the field and does not move off in air, soil, or water.
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By Charles Benjamin
This is the name given to proposals to re-regulate the electric utility industry in order to allow for competition in the furnishing of retail electric service. A bill put together by a task force would allow all residential, commercial and industrial customers of participating utilities to purchase electric power directly from teh competitive generation provider of the customer's choice after July 1, 2001. As of December 1997 nine states had enacted legislation authorizing retail electric competitition. There are many issues associated with such proposals, most prominent of which is the issue of "stranded costs" - those costs that electric utilities cannot recover in a re-regulated climate. The most prominent example is the case of nuclear power generation. There is uncertainty as to whether the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant in Burlington will be cost competitive in a re-regulated environment, and if so who will be stuck with the "stranded costs." Another important issue is whether there will be positive incentives for the use of renewable energy. I will be working with legislators sympathetic to those issues in an attempt to make whatever positive contribution I can to encouraging renewable resources.
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By DeEtte Huffman
The Kansas Chapter promotes sustainability which is a state defined by desired social and economic conditions, governed by population size and the limits of ecological systems, and achieved by meeting equitably the needs of current and future generations without a net loss in environmental integrity. Renewable natural resources are the foundation of economies. The protection of biodiversity is paramount. Strong sustainability is associated with ecological sustainability which will have a positive effect on the economic future of our communities. We believe that the use of natural resources to meet human needs and wants must be curtailed in order to avoid degrading the the Earth, its natural resources and living systems. Present land use and transportation policies in our state fail to protect the natural environment. Members are encouraged to avoid overconsumption by using less, to recycle and reuse household and personal goods, to invest in their local economies, to not build homes in prime farmland, and to walk or bicycle instead of using the car whenever possible.
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Arkansas River Restoration
by DeEtte Huffman and Larry Zuckerman
The Arkansas is America's forgotten river. Harnessed by the Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and numerous irrigation districts, the Arkansas River, once proud, is terminal, with the entire basin affected. This river has many monuments that stand to man's arrogance and ignorance to natural rivers... fishes and birds, such as greenback cutthroat trout, paddlefish, the Arkansas River shiner, the Arkansas River speckled chub, the Arkansas darter, the Interior least tern, whooping cranes, snowy plover and others that are extirpated or on the brink from this large river system and its tributaries. Replacing these imperiled natives are the introduced Red River shiner, rainbow trout, zebra mussels, and salt cedar. Once a barrier to migration, the reduction in flows has allowed eastern birds to migrate and hybridize with western birds thus displacing the native Prairie species. Fish consumption health advisories and warnings to children not to get in its waters up and down the Arkansas River serve as grim reminders to a river more easily forgotten. Following are problems facing the River's existance.
"Planned Depletion" State-sanctioned water planning for the Arkansas River and its underlying but dying Ogallalah Aquifer is due to overappropriation on the eastern plains of Colorado and western plains of Kansas. Competing interests for irrigation, livestock, industry, and municipalities result in overappropriation.
Pollution Mining wastes seriously pollute the river in Colorado. What water flows into Kansas from our neighboring state is primarily irrigation base flow with agricultural pollution added to the mining heavy metals. Selenium, salts, nitrates, pesticides, herbicides, coliform bacteria, sediment and other point and nonpoint pollution then enter the river in our state. Large sand and gravel pits along the river act as sinks for pollutants to collect. Illegal dumping occurs in the mainly dry river in western Kansas to add to the problem. The salt industry centered near Hutchinson, the oil, aircraft and chemical industries near Wichita dispose of salt, heavy metals, and very toxic acid wastes.
Dams Low-head dams and diversions on the river encourage siltation, fish passage blockage, inundation of spawning habitat, and favor nonnative reservoir-loving species.
Flood Control When the river flowed, flood control projects with dikes and levees and "conservation practices" such as level terraces, helped tame and de-water the river while allowing urban and agricultural encroachment.
Endangered Species The Arkansas River shiner, soon to be federally endangered, is extirpated from the river. The endangered Arkansas River speckled chub, Plains minnow, flathead chub, and threatened Arkansas darter hang on by a thread in the basin but not in the main reach of the river. Non-native wildlife have replaced these imperiled species.
DeEtte Huffman is the President of the Arkansas River Coalition. Larry Zuckerman is the Director of Pure Water for Kansas and Advisor to the Arkansas River Coalition.
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Population: Growth slows, but the explosion isn't over
by John Kurmann
- Current U.S. population: approximately 269 million
- One person is being added (net increase) to the U.S. population every: 17 seconds
- Projected 1998 increase: 2.3 million
- Projected U.S. population in 2050: 393.9 million
- Current world population estimate: 5.888 billion
- Five people are being added (net increase) to the world's population every: 2 seconds
- 1998 world population growth estimate: between 78 and 79 million
- Projected world population in 2050: 9.3 billion
All figures are taken from the U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov). Population growth estimates for 2050 come from the Bureau's Middle Series projections, which are considered to be the most likely scenario for growth.
So I'm looking over the 1997 Zero Population Growth (a Washington-based organization that the Sierra Club International Population Program works closely with) Congressional Report Card, and I'm disgusted to see that the entire Kansas congressional delegation, both Senators and all four Representatives, voted against the ZPG position every single time. I wish I could say I was surprised.
My friends, I hate to break this to you, but the Kansas delegation has been body-snatched by the Religious Right. When Jan Meyers and Nancy Kassebaum decided to retire, we lost the only two voices of reason for international family planning and women's reproductive freedom that Kansas had in Congress.
All the same, I'll outline for you the status of international family planning funding by the U.S. government. First, a bit of background:
Due to the efforts of the Clinton administration and the worldwide attention drawn to this issue by the September 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, funding reached its historical peak in the FY1995 budget (which covered the period 10/94-9/95). That year, roughly $547 million were appropriated for bilateral international family planning programs. Then the tsunami known as the 104th Congress hit Washington.
By the time the 104th was finished, they had gone back and cut money out of the FY1995 appropriation, and the FY1996 and FY1997 budgets were disasters. Bilateral family planning aid had been eviscerated, cut by nearly 35% in FY1996, and nearly 30% in FY1997 (compared to FY1995).
In addition, restrictions were put on the appropriation that prevented any of the FY1996 funds from being spent until July 1996, nine months into the fiscal year, and then spread it out over 15 months. In effect, this resulted in a nearly 90% reduction of bilateral funds available to be spent during FY1996 as compared to FY1995.
[What was the point of these bizarre restrictions? The forces that oppose this funding haven't been able to kill the programs outright, so they are trying to slowly starve them to death. Both administrative and purchasing costs tend to be higher when programs are forced to operate under these restrictions.]
The FY1997 appropriation started out with similar restrictions, but an unprecedented joint effort between the Clinton administration, reasonable members of Congress, and a coalition of population, development, and environmental organizations (including the Sierra Club) was able to get the funds released in March 1997, five months into the fiscal year instead of nine. Even so, the money has been disbursed at 8% of the total per month over 12 1/2 months.
The FY1998 process has produced a slightly better bill. Bilateral funding is set at the same level ($385 million), and is being metered out according to the same monthly formula, as in FY1997. One improvement is that the funding has not been delayed until some point later in the fiscal year. Should we be thankful for such small favors?
What's my prediction for FY1999? More of the same, says the Amazing Kurmann, though I hardly have to be psychic to know that. I don't hold much hope for influencing any of the Kansas Congressional delegation to improve their record this year. Best thing the Kansas Chapter can do to increase support for international family planning programs is work to convince the voters of Kansas to boot 'em out of office in November (all four Reps and Senator Brownback are up for reelection).
Save your educational efforts for the people of Kansas. Contact your Group Conservation Chair or the International Population Program (202-675-6690) for the materials you need to do just that.
If we don't halt population growth, and soon, the Sierra Club might as well close up shop, because all our other efforts will be swamped by the flood of human numbers. We can't keep appropriating an ever-greater chunk of Spaceship Earth for human use, and turning an ever-greater percentage of the world's biomass into human flesh.
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by Diane Stewart
Our landscape has changed from small-town communities to never-ending highways, traffic congestion, mega-malls, huge parking lots, monotonous subdivisions and decaying urban cores. We are overflowing into the countryside as our population grows. Sprawl consists of low-density development on the edges of cities and towns that is poorly planned, spreads far out into previously undeveloped land, and is totally dependent on automobiles for access.
Urban sprawl consumes land quickly as much of it is used for roads and parking lots. Suburban subdivisions and commercial strip development are not conducive to public transit, and are often unfriendly to pedestrians and bicyclists. Standardized zoning codes encourage the same monotonous look to subdivisions and commercial areas throughout the nation. These vast, sprawling suburbs lack a sense of identity or feeling of community.
In Europe, more value is placed on culture in the urban core, and the affluent live close to the downtown area in compact, mixed-use development patterns that support public transit and encourage walking. However, America is the opposite of most developed countries in this respect. Our cities are built for cars, not people.
Existing infrastructure in older neighborhoods is abandoned or underutilized as urban cores decline. Social and economic decay are left in the wake of migration to the suburbs. At the same time, duplication of services and infrastructure occurs in newly developed areas. Much of this fiscally irresponsible process is subsidized by taxpayers. This development pattern looks like a doughnut. A hole gradually appears in the center, while rapid growth continues around the edges.
Environmental activists are interested in local growth and development issues because appropriate planning is essential to environmental protection. Most Sierra Club members believe that the best way to protect our natural resources is to slow down the suburban sprawl that eats up our countryside.
America's best farmland is being devoured by encroaching development. More than five and one half acres of rural land are converted to urbanized uses every day due to suburban and industrial expansion. The landscape of sprawl has been called the geography of nowhere. Do we really want to remain lost in a sea of subdivisions, strip malls, and roadways? Or are we willing to look for alternatives?
The Sierra Club is concerned about the pace and pattern of growth, air and water quality, transportation and land use planning. This includes preserving older commercial and residential areas while encouraging infill development. We recommend well-managed growth, adherence to comprehensive plans as opposed to leapfrog development, and preservation of open spaces, parks, and family farms. We promote public transit options and oppose new beltways which would increase air pollution and open land to development.
We endorse neighborhood preservation efforts to try and ease the rush to develop new subdivisions. We want to see neighborhoods that are pedestrian-friendly, near public transit, and include mixed-use development and a variety of housing options. This follows the national trend called New Urbanism or transit-oriented development. We want to find new ways to have growth with a green attitude in the future. We have to be inventive and create new ways to live more lightly on the earth.
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South Lawrence Trafficway (SLT) Position Statement
by Carey Maynard-Moody
The KS Chapter Sierra Club support National Sierra Clubs campaign to stop urban sprawl. We recognize that road building encourages traffic and sprawl. We foresee that the creation of new highways such as the proposed eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway in Lawrence, Douglas County, KS is a sprawl magnet. Expanding highways encourages increases in traffic. Studies have shown that places that have built the most roads have not relieved traffic congestion. Adding capacity to highways actually generates additional travel as people take more car trips. The sprawl that follows such road building creates even more demand and swallows precious open space.
The Kansas Sierra Club believes that citizens deserve clean air and land conservation for quality of life. Cars and trucks served by such road building initiatives as the SLT are among the largest sources of smog and cancer-causing pollution in America.. We endorse only those KDOT proposals and policies that move people and products in a healthful, sustainable fashion such as bus and rail service. These alternatives can preserve greenspace (including farmland) and prevent urban sprawl while connecting the communities in northeast KS. KDOT initiatives that promote walkable communities with links to public transportation are supported by Kansas Sierra Club.
We firmly believe that the transportation planning process should be a transparent one that operates with public participation. The the KS Sierra Club is interested in participating with KDOT in designing a community and nature-friendly transportation system of choices, not more road space.
for information on how you can participate in multi-modal transportation planning in Lawrence and adjacent urban areas, contact Carey Maynard-Moody, chair Wakarusa Group Sierra Club email@example.com or 785.841.9594
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At the local level things are happening with regard to improving the metropolitan Kansas City area transit system, including the possibility of building commuter and/or light rail systems. A recent poll by the Kansas City Star showed surprising support for transit improvements, including the addition of rail systems. Members of the Sierra Club are involved with the Metropolitan Coalition for Sensible Transportation (MCfST), the group that helped stop the 21st Century Parkway in Johnson County. The Greater KC Chamber of Commerce and the Mid-America Regional Council have formed the Metropolitan Transit Steering Committee (MTSC) to effect improved transit service. This group in turn is forming the Metropolitan Transit Coalition (MTC) under the leadership of Dr. Mary Cohen of Saint Mary College (her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org). The purpose of this group is to bring together a diverse range of community interests to work in concert with the steering committee toward development and maintenance of comprehensive, efficient and high quality public transit services for metropolitan Kansas City.
The exact composition of the MTC is still unknown (it is supposed to include business, governmental, and community leaders) and the MCfST will have to ride herd to see that it doesn't become a "rubber stamp approval" organization for the MTSC. There will be a Transit Summit (probably in March) which is still in the conceptual stage.
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By Craig Volland - email@example.com
Globalization of the world's economic system has been promoted in recent decades by transnational corporations and their allies in the governments of industrialized countries, particularly the U.S. This campaign has spawned a legal framework, embodied in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO), that officially subordinates the protection of the environment and worker and human rights to the rights of investors.
A broad coalition of environmentalists, labor unions and social justice groups succeeded in stopping, for the moment, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and other multilateral trade agreements. As a result the US Trade Office has been focused on forging new bilateral agreements that contain some of the same damaging rules. The Kansas Chapter works with the Club's International Office in Washington, D. C. to promote the inclusion of meaningful environmental protection in trade agreements.
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Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
By Charles Benjamin
(information from the NPS web site, www.nps.gov/tapr/)
Planning for the newly established preserve is underway and it is important that people with a commitment to conservation be involved. The General Management Plan will serve as a conceptual guide for the preserve, and will offer a picture of what the preserve should be like and what it should offer visitors during the next 15 years or so. This planning effort has begun with a look at the preserve's enabling legislation and the identification of the purpose and significance of the site, based on what the legislation says.
The legislation directs that management should "conserve the scenery, natural and historic objects, and wildlife for the ranch; and provide for the enjoyment of the ranch in such manner and by such means as will leave the scenery, natural and historic objects, and wildlife unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." And further, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve should "preserve, protect, and interpret for the public an example of a tallgrass prairie ecosystem... and to preserve and interpret for the public the historic and cultural values represented on the Spring Hill Ranch."
Although National Park Trust privately owns the preserve, the legislation calls for the National Park Service to manage the resources of the preserve. There are different interpretations of the above legislation and how management may best be accomplished. As always, there are individuals and organizations working against conservation who have other ideas about how the ecosystem should be managed. Rather than native grazers and a wealth of natural plant and animal diversity, they insist on a working cattle ranch based on economics. The Sierra Club is encouraging members to become involved by expressing interest that the restoration and enhancement of the native flora and fauna should be a priority in preserving our tallgrass natural heritage.
The Park Service has invited public comment and requests that if you have some ideas on how to accomplish these purposes and fulfill the above mission, please share your thoughts with the planning team by directing your comments to the Superintendent, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, PO Box 585, Cottonwood Falls, KS 66845 or telephone 316-273-6034.
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Missouri River News
By Bill Griffith
Recommendations for basin-wide Sierra Club positions on Missouri River management.
1. Support native habitat restoration
Discussion: This should be an over-riding goal of Missouri River Management, and all other management goals and recommendations should be subservient to this main management goal.
2. No new dams in the Missouri River basin.
Discussion: Current dams have caused major disruptions in the ecology of the basin. No new dams should be considered in any of the major or minor tributaries of the River.
3. No new levees that protect beyond agricultural level (5 year flood)
Discussion: Industrial (100+ year protection) levees have separated the river from its floodplains - see #8 below.
4. Support basin-wide mitigation funding
Discussion: The US ACOE has been authorized large amounts of funds to conduct mitigation efforts that will counter the negative impacts of the past decades of river management. The Sierra Club should support appropriations to the Corps targeted for such mitigation.
5. Support Conservation Easement funding
Discussion: Short of outright purchases of floodplains and riverine wetlands (through such efforts as the USFWS Big Muddy Wildlife Refuge), easements could be purchased through WRP, EWRP, and other long-term or permanent set-aside programs.
6. Support monitoring for water quality, habitat quality, species decline, species recovery
Discussion: A component of any Missouri River management plan should be monitoring to ensure that the plan is contributing to habitat restoration, water quality improvement, and recovery of indigenous species - particularly those that are listed as endangered, but also to prevent habitat loss and consequent indigenous species decline. It is much easier to prevent species from becoming threatened or endangered than it is to recover species on the brink of extinction. This monitoring should be conducted by USGS, USFWS, and states fish and game management agencies.
7. Support Adaptive Management
Discussion: This goes hand-in-hand with monitoring. If it is determined that some aspect of the management plan is not having the expected results, the Corps and other state and federal agencies should make adaptive changes to the management plan to address the problems. The adaptive management monitoring and subsequent recommendations for changes should be conducted by the US Geological Survey.
8. Reconnect floodplains and river - levee setbacks (one example)
Discussion: The Missouri River should not be limited to a channel designated by the US ACOE, but rather should be allowed to expand into its floodplain during high-water events. Industrial levees should be set back sufficient distances (1500 has been proposed) from the Ordinary High Water Mark to allow an escape valve for flood water, to replenish the floodplain and to allow restoration of the riparian corridor.
9. Support managing the Missouri River for other than navigational purposes. (See #1 above)
Discussion 1: Cost-benefit analysis does not warrant management of river for navigation; barge traffic peaked in the 70s and has been in decline ever since, yet the Corps continues to manage the lower basin (below Gavins) for a non-existent barge industry (12% to 20% of original expectations). The results have been ecological destruction and loss of species throughout the basin and negative impacts upon upper-basin resources. Elimination of management for navigation would allow 1) restoration of a more natural lower river channel below Sioux City, 2) partial restoration of seasonal instream flows, and 3) elimination of a heavily subsidized and uneconomic system.
Discussion 2: We can find no evidence that navigational flows on the Mississippi River are in any way dependent upon Missouri River flows. Questions were directed to all state and federal agencies and none asserted that navigation on the Mississippi was related to the Missouri.
10. Support unbalancing the reservoirs
Discussion: If the split-season flow regime is utilized, the flows from the upper basin reservoirs should be cycled, rather than drawing down one reservoir year after year. This will allow exposure of the sandbars and mudflats in the upper basin reservoirs on a cyclical basis, and should enhance nesting success for the endangered bird species. However, careful monitoring and adaptive management (see #7 above) should be utilized to ensure that the results are positive.
11. Oppose bank stabilization and destruction of riparian zone - basin-wide
Discussion: See #s 2, 4, and 8 above.
12. Support setbacks for housing/residential developments - see statement on P&Z county protection, floodplain preservation, riparian zone protection, setbacks for aesthetics. Minimum of 100 year flood level.
Discussion: Riverfront development is destroying the public ownership values of the Missouri River at an alarming rate; trophy homes built close to the river command a premium price but destroy riparian habitat and diminish the aesthetic quality of the river. Carefully planned zoning ordinances, when combined with federal incentive programs, can minimize many of the negative impacts of riverfront housing developments. These include setbacks for houses, screening of buildings using natural vegetation, and blending homes with natural topography. The Sierra Club supports and will work with local zoning boards and county commissions, as well as citizens groups, to secure and implement proper ordinances that focus on the public ownership values of the river.
13. Support more dependence on natural systems - less on engineering
Discussion: We prefer natural rivers and natural systems over manipulated ones. Unintended consequences of engineering solutions often create more problems than are solved.
14. We support the Split-Season flow regime for spring high flows 1 of every 3 years, low summer flows each year. However, the fall rise is not historically nor ecologically justified.
Discussion 1: We support flow modification to manage MO River for wetland communities, populations of all indigenous wildlife species, endangered species recovery, habitat restoration and recreation by higher spring rise, low summer flows. Fall flows should be determined by adaptive management reviews by the USGS with integral independent review and analysis.
Discussion 2: Fall rise is not justified by the historic hydrographic records and we consider it to be artificial and unnecessary; apparently it is advocated by the state and federal agencies to ensure sufficient flow for navigational interest. It is our position (see #9 above) that the River should not be managed for navigation.
Discussion 3: Low flow in summer should be sufficient to protect other interests (recreation, species, habitat restoration)
Discussion 4: Caveat: Flow modification should have little impact beyond 60 miles below Gavins - at least not from Sioux City on down. Natural flows from the rivers below Gavins Point provide attenuation of the impacts of flow releases from upstream.
Discussion 5: We view the split season flow regime as one quite small component of a return to a more natural river hydrograph. Too much emphasis has been placed on this component by upstream and downstream political interests.
15. Retirement of Gavins Point dam as a flood control or water retention structure.
Discussion 1: As Gavins Point Dam approaches the end of its useful life due to the sediment buildup behind the dam, consideration should be given to the possibility of removal and restoring the sediment flows to the river.
Discussion 2: We support finding ways to redistribute the sediments and waterflows necessary to rebuild the natural communities of the entire lower Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico.
Discussion 3: Short of physical removal of Gavins Point, it should become a run of the river structure (water in, water out).
16. Opposition to out-of-basin diversions
Discussion: We oppose out-of-basins diversions that would potentially impact the historic natural fish and wildlife communities within the basin, or potentially introduce Missouri River basins species into other watersheds/basins.
17. Opposition to basin depletions
Discussion: We oppose in-basin diversions where water does not return to river. Example: irrigation where large quantities are lost through absorption or evaporation.
18. Concerns about hydroelectric generation.
Discussion: We took no position on this issue pending the acquisition of additional information.
19. Impacts of managing for recreation.
Discussion: While supporting ecologically-sustainable recreation in the Mo R basin, we recognize the need to regulate recreational activities that negatively impact other values of the river. Jet skis (ski-doos), large high-powered personal watercraft, and other high-impact uses should be restricted to times or places where least harm is caused.
20. Concerns about Sturgeon fishing/harvest (inability of anglers to identify Pallid from Shovelnose).
Discussion: No position taken. Awaiting further information - position to be established later
21. Dredging - disruption of deposited sediment
Discussion: While there exists dire need for redistribution of sediments (see #16 above), disruptions of sediments by dredging presents potentially serious water quality concerns. As such, dredging should only be undertaken ONLY when there will be NO negative impact on water quality.
22. We oppose the introduction of non-native species and support efforts to reduce current populations that have been previously introduced.
Discussion: Wildlife and plants should not be introduced into habitats where they are not native when introduction may have adverse effects. Proposed wildlife and plant introduction and removals should be prohibited until an adequate research study is completed that indicates whether or not such action will have an adverse effect on the natural ecosystem involved. The Sierra Club supports the removal or control of non-native species and rehabilitation and restoration of native ecosystems, unless it is no longer feasible to do so or there is not a documented conflict with the native ecosystem. (National Sierra Club policy adopted 12-10-94).
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"What the State of Kansas and the Utilities Should Do to Promote Wind Energy"
A speech by Bill Griffith at the Wind Energy Conference, July 24, 2000
For more information, use this link: www.pinnaclet.com/kswind
Thank you, Mr. Holmes. I hope everyone in the audience is enjoying themselves at the conference and I certainly would like to thank the people who organized this conference for the truly great job they have done.
"My portion of the program is "What the State of Kansas can do to promote wind energy."
I would like to break that down into utility-size projects and distributed generation, or smaller turbines for homes, schools, and businesses. I will speak first on the utility- scale projects.
While we are focusing on what the state of Kansas can do we must factor in potential variables from the federal level. There are two that bear watching closely.
The first one is the Kyoto Protocol. This agreement reached between nations of the world is designed to reduce greenhouse emissions and begin reversing (hopefully) global warming. If the U.S. Senate ratifies this treaty it will have important ramifications in Kansas.
Regions that depend heavily on coal will be hardest hit. Kansas, of course, is a large purchaser of coal and uses it as its primary energy source. Under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol the price of coal will rise 153% to 800%. The increase at the residential level will be up to 36 dollars per month according to the Energy Information Agency. Small businesses can be expected to absorb the same type of increases if they are in a region that depends heavily on coal.
Our state is hooked like an addict and is mainlining coal from the western states and like the junkie we are in an unhealthy position. If the U.S. government decides we have to have a carbon tax some scenarios suggest that coal plants may become too expensive to run as a baseload plant. This reinforces the idea we need a variety of resources for our power needs.
The other major factor looming out on the horizon is the ongoing deregulation of the electric industry. There are several bills in Congress now and we have seen utilities preparing for this prospect by shearing costs such as deep-sixing demand side management programs.
Carbon prices are expected to go up as well under deregulation. Natural gas is projected to go up.7% year thru 2020 without the implementation of a carbon tax or deregulation. It has also been the subject of wild price swings recently. How many in this room think the price of natural gas will be lower in five years? Ten years?
Wind energy, by contrast, is expected to drop from $ 1000 per kW to $ 600 per kW by 2020.
Restructuring brings uncertainty concerning future demand needs. If utilities from outside the state can come in and potentially entice customers away how can you accurately figure future demand? Doesn't make since to build a huge plant saddled in debt if this is the wave of the future does it? I wouldn't want to be handed the job of forecasting my company's future market with competition out there, especially since the power companies have not been trained in the ways of good ol' cutthroat capitalism.
So what is one to do? Let's examine the attributes of wind: Wind is an excellent energy choice to add to the resource mix in Kansas.
Kansas is the third windiest state so we have plenty of fuel. And its free. No price hikes there. This minimizes the overall fuel-price risks hanging over our heads.
A wind farm can be installed in segments as needed with short constructions lead time so power companies can respond quickly to changing circumstances.
The wind farm brings increased revenues to local governments and landowners. A Union of Concerned Scientists study estimates the return on land at 30 to 100% and the land can still be farmed! Can you imagine the boon to some of our struggling farmers and cash-strapped counties? It's interesting to see what some of the farmers in Iowa and Minnesota are making on these leases.
With this in mind let's gaze into our crystal ball courtesy again of the Energy Information Agency:
Kansas has a projected summer demand this year of 13,461 megawatts of electricity and has a capacity of 15,465 megawatts plus three new coal-fired plants coming on line with an additional 1,309 megawatts. By the year 2009 the demand is projected to increase to 17,168 megawatts. Where should we find the required power plus a little extra for a margin of error? Wind of course. I propose the state of Kansas require 500 MW of wind power by the year 2009. It will meet the projected needs, increase our resource mix, help rural Kansas and help ensure smaller price increases. If deregulation or the Kyoto Accords are implemented we will certainly need to add more megawatts of wind in order to stabilize our energy costs. I call on the governor and the legislature to study the examples set by other states and to go into action on this issue. A small amount of foresight now will save a great deal of finger pointing in the near future.
Let's move over to the distributed generation arena and see what we can do there. The main problem is the upfront costs associated with a wind turbine system. There are two tools we can use to assist folks who would like to join the wind revolution. The first thing we need to have in Kansas is net billing or net metering as it is often called. Net metering is a key component that needs to be in place in order to make wind energy a viable option for farms, schools, businesses, and homeowners in Kansas.
By definition net metering is where the meter runs backwards when the producer generates more electricity than is needed at that particular time. The standard home utility meter works forwards and backwards and is conducive to net metering. The excess generation can either be just put back in the grid at no compensation to the producer such as in Iowa, it can be sold back to the utility at the avoided cost of fuel, or it can be sold back to the utility at the retail cost as it is done in Wisconsin. States handle this excess generation in different manners.
As of now over 30 states have enacted some form of net metering. In the next couple of years I'm sure we will see even more states enact this reform.
This is certainly one area that brings out frustration in folks with wind turbines in our state. Kansas has the LARGEST discrepancy in the price the utilities charge and the price they will pay for generated electricity of all the 50 states. Let's look at some examples: Larry Spiva of Claflin is charged 9.5 cents per kilowatt hour by KGE when he is purchasing electricity yet is only allowed to sell it back at 2 cents per kilowatt hour. Certainly a bargain for KGE and an ongoing frustration for Mr. Spiva.
Paul Burmeister of Burr Oak has had a wind turbine since the early 80's and Bob Courtney of the Olathe School system is looking into putting up a wind turbine at one of their athletic complexes. Bob told me the complex uses about 55,000 dollars annually for electricity. Without net metering his bill will probably still be around 40,000 dollars. With net metering it could drop to around zero. In four to five years the district could save a quarter million dollars or so on just one complex with a turbine and net metering. Think of the possibilities of schools across the state and how they could re-direct those funds into other valuable directions. Check out what Spirit Lake School is doing in Iowa right now.
Some utilities have required extra safety features or costly insurance in order to bring a wind turbine online. These costs drive up the initial investment and make wind turbine ownership less appealing. What makes this scenario even more frustrating is there are over 5,000 small wind turbines in operation, logging over 300 million operational hours with no liability claims or lineman injuries from inter-connected systems. Any safety concerns can be disposed of rather quickly as a red herring.
The state of Kansas should enact a net billing law that gives the right to interconnect under standardized requirements, protect producers from liability insurance barriers, and other unreasonable disincentives and encourages prospective wind producers to invest in turbines that fit their particular needs.
Of course, another disincentive is the price of a wind system. While it certainly pays for itself over time, the initial cost can be prohibitive for many individuals and businesses.
Some of you may recall Kansas has a tax credit for renewable energy some years back. Many of the wind and solar systems we have came from this era. I propose a state tax credit for renewable energy systems of 45% of the purchase price with accelerated depreciation and allowing the credit to be spread over five years.
I spoke with Mike Bergey of Bergey Wind and he suggested that 45% would be a good target to aim for in order to make wind energy viable in the distributed market. Let's look at an example of a business or farm that pays $500 per month in electric costs and has a $2000 tax bill annually to the state.
$500 x 12 = $6,000 annually in electric bills. Annual tax bill of $2000. Total annual costs are $8000.
A $30,000 wind turbine with a tax credit of 45% would give a total credit of $13,500.
Let's say the depreciation schedule is 30-20-20-15-15. The first year the purchaser would have $4,050 tax credit so they would pay no taxes. With net metering the electric bill could very well be zero or they may get money back from the utility, but we will say that they net out for the sake of our example. So, the first year they save $2,000 in taxes and $6,000 in electric bills and put $8,000 in black ink instead of red ink.
The second and third year saves $2,700 in taxes and of course, there is again a $6,000 savings in electricity, so again a total savings of $8,000 each of those two years. The fourth and fifth year there is a $2025 tax savings and the $6,000 in electric savings, so again a net savings of $8,000. After five years the total savings is $40,000, the wind turbine can be paid off fairly quickly and the electric bill will be minimal, nonexistent, or better yet our folks will receive a check back from their utility for being a producer of electricity. Now that's exciting!
Obviously this is a hypothetical case and each scenario is different. But this two-pronged strategy of net metering and a tax credit can give the economic boost that is needed to make wind an affordable option for the distributed power market. Imagine the economic boost this can give struggling farms and businesses that have seemingly scoured every dark nook and cranny for extra savings and now realize the electricity they are using for their search is actually the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you.
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