December 1998 / January 1999 Issue of the Planet Kansas
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Independent Expenditure Campaign for Dennis Moore, by Steve Baru
Winter Festival Silent Auction by Steve Baru
Legislature Squelches County Attempts to Toughen Hog Regs by Charles Benjamin
Green Purchasing: Fad or Necessity? by Marc Mason
Trains, Lanes, Planes & Octanes: Liquid fuels from natural gas by Wayne Sangster
Thanks for Phoning by Tom Thompson
Not Tom's Tips by Tom Thompson
Kanza Newza by Tom Thompson
Food System Conference and Farmers Exhibition by Craig Volland
The Independent Expenditure Campaign for Dennis Moore
by Steve Baru, Co-Chair of the IEC for Moore
The Kanza Group of the Sierra Club came out in force to help Dennis Moore win his campaign. We did it our way that is, a grassroots campaign. Weve watched political figures in the past few years beat our candidates with huge grassroots efforts. However, we are the quintessential grassroots organization: We can do it better than anybody and this year we proved it again with a massive effort to help get Dennis Moore elected to Congress.
In doing so, we accomplished many goals. We raised our clout in the community; we raised the communitys awareness of environmental issues-especially clean air. We interjected into the campaign and debates discussion about our environment. The entire nation benefits from the defeat of an awful and irresponsible Congressman.
Sierra Club targeted two races in the country to do an independent expenditure campaign and ours was one of them. We owe a big thank-you to our national organization.
We also owe a big thanks to you. You provided the muscle to move our grassroots organization into action. Part of the plan was to load the newspapers with stories and letters. You were able to get at least two letters-to-the-editor printed somewhere in Johnson County every week for eight weeks. We then did a direct mail to strategic parts of the district. We placed a radio spot for Dennis Moore that aired on four stations for the two weeks prior to the election. To implement the part of the plan that called for dropping literature door-to-door in certain precincts, you swelled the ranks of helpers with walking shoes in hand. Then when your feet were tired, you exercised your fingers to dial phone numbers from a seemingly never-ending list.
There is still one item on our strategic plan that remains undone. I need you to pat yourselves on the back for a job-better than well done... lets call it best done. I know Ill be high-fiving for another year before I come down from an emotional high.
Thank yous to specific individuals should go to Steve Hassler, Dan Rabel, Bob Jacobi Audrey Wegst, Jan Marsh, Bill Roush, Don Gladstone, Dirk Durant, Dewey Ziegler, John Verbanic, Marc Mason, Cindy and Rick Berger, Laura Calwell, Mike Calwell, Eileen Hiney, Kevin Sink, Unnamed Audubon Activist, Kevin Meek, Samantha Adams, Diane Stewart, Taylor Castro, John Something, Craig Wolfe, Audrey Vickman, Frank Norman, Craig Volland, Anne Allegre, Cynthia Smith, Craig Lubow, Janet Nolte, Mike Miller, Jim Horlacher, Friends of Kaw, Executive Committee of the Kanza Group and the Kansas Chapter and our campaign coordinator Mary Jacobi.
Those national staff members that helped guide our effort are Betsy Buffington, Chris Norman, Dan Weiss, Karen Fogas, Gayle Gordon, and Larry Mehlhaff.
In the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, "Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests, and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals-not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes. But at last it looks as if our people were awakening." - Theodore Roosevelt, The Outlook, 25 January 1913.
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Winter Festival Silent Auction
by Steve Baru
This year we will try something new for us. We will incorporate into our Winter Festival a silent auction. Plans are being prepared as I write this memo. We have many exciting items for you to bid on. If you have any worthy items that you would like to donate to our auction, please call me. In return for your item we will give you a hearty thanks and a valuable ad in our Planet Kansas. So bring yourselves, bring a friend, bring some food, bring your checkbook and bring a smile. This event will be enjoyable for all.
Date: Saturday, January 30, 1999
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Bring your checkbooks and find a bargain!
Location Overland Park Lutheran Church, 79th & Lowell, Overland Park
Fundraiser for Sierra Club
Camping Equip, Sporting Goods, Professional Services (lawyers and accountants), Birding Goods
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Legislature Squelches County Attempts to Toughen Hog Regs
by Charles Benjamin, Legislative Coordinator
After denying citizens a two year moratorium and passing instead a hog bill (H.B. 2950) that substantially ignores the odor problem and paves the way for a new invasion of hog factories, key legislators are now putting the kabosh on county efforts to write their own, tougher rules. In the final moments of the 1998 legislative session someone slipped a provision into H.B. 2950 that prohibits counties from implementing regulations on swine production facilities more stringent than the weak regulations found in H.B. 2950. At the time the explanation for this interference with county home rule was because other provisions (such as allowing Meade County to have a binding vote) made the law "non-uniform" and counties could opt out of regulation altogether, i.e. a technical correction to the bill was needed. However in June, the sharp-eyed Coffee County Attorney requested an opinion from the Kansas Attorney General's Office. The subsequent A.G.'s opinion indicated that the proscription applied only to facility separation distances. But it was all in how the question was asked.
This past summer Martin Engineering of Norman, Oklahoma had been retained by Seward County to write local environmental rules on confined animal feeding facilities. The Seward County Commissioners wanted environmental rules that included local regulations on separation distances, waste lagoon seepage rates, chemigation and dead animal disposal. After Martin Engineering worked with a local citizen task force a draft set of regulations were prepared for presentation to the Seward County Commission. The proposed rules would have placed more stringent local regulations on separation distances, dead animal disposal, chemigation and seepage rates than those contained in H.B. 2950. I was asked by Martin Engineering to review the legal issues surrounding county implementation of these draft local sanitary codes. After my review of the regulations, and the home rule limitations found in H.B. 2950, I informed Martin Engineering that Seward County might face a legal challenge with regard to implementing provisions of the proposed local regulations dealing with separation distances, lagoon seepage rates, chemigation and dead animal disposal. All of these were areas in which the legislature pre-empted counties from exercising home rule authority. Thus Seward County spent $42,000 on a set of rules that could not be implemented.
Nonetheless county officials in Kansas are still casting about for ways to protect themselves from an anticipated proliferation of swine production facilities. So now comes the remarkable letter, dated Nov.9, 1998, that KDHE Secretary Gary Mitchell sent to all County Commissioners warning them that they would not receive local environmental protection (LEP) funds for the purpose of developing and administering local livestock control planning and regulation. We are reprinting the full text. Secretary Mitchell has also been going to meetings of local officials lately to convince them not to attempt local regulation and warning them that they would be sued(by the industry presumably)if they did.
Actually the most significant element of this letter is the next to last paragraph. Here Secretary Mitchell essentially admits that the provision slipped into H.B. 2950 was a deliberate attempt to prevent local governments from implementing stricter regulations. Also note the five legislators who received a copy of this warning letter. It is exactly the same five people who coordinated the effort to deny citizens the moratorium on hog factories and who substituted instead H.B. 2950. Secretary Mitchell seems to be signaling that he is just the go-between in this heavy handed operation.
There's more evidence of this thinly veiled plot. In creating the regulations that will implement H.B. 2950, KDHE inserted a provision that would grant the five groundwater managment districts, including the Equus Beds GWMD, authority to require synthetic liners in the bottom of hog lagoons. Shortly thereafter, the KDHE got a letter from the Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations stating that KDHE cannot delegate this authority to the GWMD's despite the fact that the Attorney General's office had signed off on the draft rules.
Pro-hog Melvin Neufeld was one of the three members of the subcommittee who reviewed the rule which he publicly criticized in a Wichita Eagle article. The Eagle describes Neufeld as the "legislative equivalent of an 800 pound gorilla" who not only chairs the Rules and Regulations Committee but also sits on the Appropriations Committee that reigns over, guess what?, appropriations for Local Environmental Protection programs and the KDHE budget.
So the fix is in. This is shameful, heavy-handed, special interest politics. We are hoping that the Governor will stand up to the legislative leadership and keep the GWMD-synthetic liner provision in the rules which must be finalized by December 31. But we're not holding our breath in view of the lack of leadership the Governor has previously shown on the hog issue. We also anticipate that an attempt will be made to repeal the right of county citizens to protest, by referendum, resolutions that allow corporate farming. We, of course, agree with the Wichita Eagle that the needs of one half million people (for clean water) must come first.
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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT
BILL GRAVES, GOVERNOR
Gary R. Mitchell, Secretary
November 9, 1998
I wish to thank those of you who attended the October 22, 1998 meeting in Salina. I appreciate the opportunity to speak directly with local officials.
For those of you who were not able to attend the meeting, I am taking this opportunity to reiterate my remarks concerning the use of Local Environmental Protection (LEP) grant funds for administration of livestock pollution control regulations.
Participation in the Local Environmental Protection program is a voluntary choice made by you as the Board of County Commissioners. When developing an environmental protection plan, K.S.A. 75-5657 specifically sets forth six elements which should be addressed within that plan: a sanitary code, subdivision water and wastewater plan, solid waste management plan, hazardous waste management plan, public water supply protection plan and nonpoint source pollution control plan.
The efficient use of government resources dictates that spending must be prioritized. KDHE has been directed by the Kansas legislature to regulate confined animal feeding operations in the State of Kansas. The agency has committed financial and staff resources well in excess of $1 million per year to meet that challenge. Given the limited fiscal resources allocated for LEP grants, it is KDHE's position that those items set forth in K.S.A. 75-5657 are priority issues for local governments to address utilizing LEP funds. Furthermore, House Bill 2950, passed during the 1997 legislation session limits the manner in which county governments may regulate confined animal feeding facilities. Therefore, for the reasons set forth above, no LEP funds will be provided by KDHE through LEP grants for the development and administration of local livestock pollution control planning and regulation.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Gary Mitchell Secretary
cc: The Honorable Robin Jennison
The Honorable Melvin Neufeld
The Honorable Joann Flower
The Honorable Joann Freeborn
The Honorable Dave Corbin
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Green Purchasing: Fad or Necessity?
By Marc Mason
There was an editorial not long ago in the Kansas City Star, denouncing the new fashioned concept of "green" purchasing as a trendy new fad that is wasteful, economically unsound and should be forbidden in government purchasing, where the lowest direct cost should be the only consideration. I have forgotten the author's name or the date on which it ran but I haven't forgotten my reaction to the piece: It's interesting in this modern day and age of highly educated people, that so many folks are still wandering around shouting out that Galileo had it all wrong and Columbus was a flake. Most reasoning people are convinced by now that the Earth is indeed round, and revolves around the Sun. Why is it so hard for people to understand that the Earth as we know it is running uncomfortably low on natural resources?
The biggest threat to our planet's future and most importantly to me, our descendants' futures, is the ever increasing, unthinking consumption and despoliation of our natural resources. We are eliminating the earth's supplies of fossil fuels, green spaces, animal and plant habitat, clean water, breathable air and atmosphere at an increasing pace each year. The demand for more and cheaper consumables is the driving force behind this destruction. So-called "green" purchasing is not a fad but an economic necessity. Every three years the population of the Earth increases by the current population of the United States. This growth in consumers equates to growth in consumption of our available resources. Such pressure will and does force supplies down and costs up. Remember freshman economics. Basic principles of the market economy tell us that when costs rise, the demand for substitutes increases. What we are seeing now, is not a "fad". "Green" purchasing decisions are made based on the real costs of purchasing consumables that increase pressure on our finite and increasingly fragile stock of resources and make economic sense. As we eliminate the supply of natural resources currently available to us we will all be forced into alternative purchasing decisions. Short-term profits will be affected, though not materially, but as the demand for environmentally friendly substitutes increase, economies of scale will follow.
Where would we be now if Galileo hadn't rocked the thinking world with his simple revelation. Where would we be if Columbus hadn't dared to sail off the edge of the Earth. Where will our children be if we continue to bury our heads in the sand and refuse to face the future?
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Trains, Lanes, Planes & Octanes:
Liquid fuels from natural gas
by Wayne Sangster
Natural gas is cleaner and more plentiful than crude oil, currently our primary source of transportation fuels. Here in Kansas we think of it as mainly a heating and cooking fuel, but it is possible to manufacture liquid fuels from natural gas. These could be nozzled into the fuel tanks of our cars and trucks and Americans could be weaned from dependence on foreign oil. The February 1998 issue of Scientific American, which focused on the end of cheap oil (set for about 2010) as reported on in the last installment of this column, also contained an article by Safaa A. Fouda, a researcher at the CANMET Energy Technology Center, a Canadian government laboratory in Nepean, Ontario, which explores the possibilities for converting natural gas to liquid fuels. Diesel fuel made this unconventional way is on sale in California. Because the gas from which it is derived is largely free of sulfur, nitrogen, and heavy metals, blends of it with ordinary diesel fuel meet the toughest emissions standards of the California Air Resources Board.
Natural gas is not only the cleanest of fossil fuels but also is one of the most plentiful worldwide. It is estimated that the world has enough readily recoverable natural gas to produce a quantity of synthetic crude oil more than twice the amount of oil ever found in the United States. Even more gas can be found in coal seams and in formations that release gas only slowly. Natural gas is also plentiful in our state -- the Hugoton gas field in southwestern Kansas was the largest such field in the world when it was discovered in 1927. In 1995 the state was ranked fifth in the US in natural gas production (as compared with eighth for crude oil production). Plants that manufacture gasoline from natural gas have existed in the state for years. Natural gas, which is composed primarily of methane, may contain smaller amounts of ethane, propane, isobutane, nitrogen, hydrogen, helium, and other gases. The end of cheap oil thus could be postponed another decade, perhaps to 2020 or so, by converting natural gas to liquid fuels on a large scale.
Natural gas released from oil wells in many parts of the world has so little value that it is either burned or reinjected into the ground (a huge amount is put back in Alaska alone). Sending gas over long distances is prohibitively expensive, costing over four times as much as for crude oil because of its much lower energy density. Converting it to liquid form would allow it to be transported by pipeline economically.
Breaking down the methane atom, which has four hydrogen atoms neatly arrayed around one carbon atom, first requires high temperatures and pressures to help tear apart its chemical bonds. Catalysts can also help in this process. The article by Fouda contains details on various processes for producing liquid fuels. Prospects for brute force methods improve every day, but there are more ingenious methods on the horizon that could be done in a single step, thus cutting costs in half. Costs then would actually be lower than for similar products refined from crude oil. One of the avenues being explored is an attempt to mimic the chemical reactions used by specialized bacteria that consume methane in the presence of oxygen to produce methanol. Low-temperature reactions of this kind are quite promising because they use relatively little energy.
The final product (a methanol derivative) is easily generated from these single-step methods. Methanol (also known as wood alcohol) can be converted either to gasoline or to an octane boosting-additive. In the near future, either directly or transformed first into hydrogen gas, it can be used to power fuel-cell vehicles on a wide scale. An alternative to methanol could be dimethyl ether, a very cleaning burning fuel. So far it hasn't been used much because it is a gas at room temperature and pressure, but recently Air Products, a supplier of industrial gases, has announced the production of a dimethyl ether derivative that is liquid at ambient conditions. This would provide a much cleaner fuel for diesel-engine vehicles without major changes of current equipment and facilities for refueling.
But even without major breakthroughs, natural gas today can be converted into liquid fuels at prices that are only about 10 percent higher than those for crude oil can. The new fuels will be cleaner and can be blended with the older ones to meet the increasingly strict environmental standards. Bulky high-pressure natural gas storage cylinders and engine conversions wouldn't be necessary. And the raw product from which this fuel is made won't have been imported or transported long distances by tankers (except maybe in the case of Alaska), with their predilections for oil spills.
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Thanks for Phoning
by Tom Thompson
During the last three weeks of the campaign to elect Dennis Moore I was separated from the Independent Expenditure Campaign supervised by Steve Baru because of being Chairman of the Third Congressional District Democrats. Nonetheless, a number of Kanza Group members volunteered to do phone banking with me on the last 3 Wednesday evenings of October.
The following individuals deserve the thanks of the Sierra Club for their sacrifice: Jackie Anderson, Steve Hassler, Pat Cuddy, Anne McDonald, Andrew Kolosseus, Carol Wagner, Mark Mason and Dirk Durant. Another Sierra Club member active in the campaign was Michelene Burger, Chair of the Johnson County Democratic Party.
On the wall of campaign headquarters there was a phone-banking chart with the names of those scheduled. On Wednesday evenings instead of listing names, the chart had the Sierra Club posted. The Moore campaign knew we were there.
Many people received several calls from either the Moore campaign or the Sierra Club encouraging them to vote. I am sure they tired of them. Please remember, voter turn out was light. The candidate that got their supporters to the polls won the race. Dennis Moore and the Sierra Club did that, Dennis won. The phone calls you received are indicators of how important your vote is.
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Not Tom's Tips
by Tom Thompson
Having been writing political baloney the past year, I got just as tired of it as anyone. I realize that in a democracy, representative as it is, we are the government. If we are tired of its process then we are tired of ourselves. So be it.
I asked myself what I could write about that was still environmental but more fun than politics. Sierra Club members all want to do what is best for the environment. As a result, they develop habits that help the environment. Certainly Sierra Clubbers compost, use florescent bulbs and recycle. However, what more unique things do they do? What creative habits do many of you have that if shared would make us all more efficient and environmental?
I'll bet there are some great ideas among the membership. So send them to me and I'll share them with everyone. My address is 5001 Rock Creek Lane, Mission, Kansas 66205 or FAX them to (913) 236-9161 or e-mail to email@example.com. I'll write about your tips but not Tom's (to heck with politics).
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by Tom Thompson, Kanza Group Chair
The end of the year is upon us again. That means Kanza Group members must vote for new executive committee members. Please don't forget. The future of the Kanza Group depends upon it.
Mark January 30, 1999 on your calendar. It is time for the Annual Winter Festival. This event is potluck so please bring your best dish because I'm hungry. I especially look forward to those dishes that great Sierra Club chefs cook and bring.
This year at the Winter Festival we will have a presentation on the Heartland Forest near KCI. We will also have something new. John Verbanic and Steve Baru formed a committee to set up a silent auction. They have promised to present a variety of interesting items for us to view and make bids. Proceeds will help the Kanza Group continue its battles on behalf of the environment.
The Kanza Group is always looking for people who want to get more involved into its day to day functioning. There are outings to be planned, campaigns that need help, and fund raising that is needed to keep it all working. If you think the Sierra Club is worthwhile and want to help perpetuate its efforts, please call me today at 236-9161.
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Food System Conference and Farmers Exhibition
Reclaiming Our Food System From The Industrial Giants ... Adding An Ethical Dimension To Eating
by Craig Volland
Mark Your Calendar...March 6, 1999 in Kansas City!
The Southern Plains Regional Conservation Committee of the Sierra Club is sponsoring a conference about the impacts of the industrial food system on urban citizens and rural communities and what we can do about it. The workshop will run 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Saturday, March 6, 1999 in Kansas City and focus on:
The conference is co-sponsored by the Kansas City Food Circle Project. The conference will be open to Sierra Club activists from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas and, as space permits, to other interested individuals. Coinciding with the workshop, and open to the general public will be an exhibition by local farmers. vendors of home appliances and supplies for processing and preserving food, and providers of information on sustainable agriculture and organic gardening. The place of both events is the Holiday Inn of Overland Park, KS. just west of Kansas City, MO. For registration materials or to obtain more information, call Craig Volland at 913-334-0556 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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