Kansas Legislative Network News
March 19, 2010
Sierra Club Kansas Chapter
221 E Ellsworth, Salina KS, 67401
Work: 785-200-8010 - Mobile: 785-550-2432
The last day to consider bills in the house of origin is this Saturday March 20th except by House Appropriations, Calendar and Printing and Taxation, House and Senate Federal and State Affairs, Senate Ways and Means, or other select committee, when authorized. Thus, this past week has been a busy one as everyone is trying to get their legislation moved out of their houses as quickly as possible. Just Thursday alone we saw the passage of SCR 1623, a.k.a. prairie burning, out of the Senate, the passage of SR 1809, a.k.a. the resolution voicing opposition to the regulation of greenhouse gases by the EPA also out of the natural resources committee, and the passage of HB 2729, a.k.a. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), out of the House of Representatives.
Committees are winding down and many of them are no longer going to meet. However, our work is not over. The passage of PACE out of the house is a great accomplishment that could only have been done with the phone calls that were made to Legislators by the dedicated Sierra Club grassroots volunteers. I heard from numerous legislators that they received your calls and they're all happy to hear directly from their constituents.
We now must get PACE into and out of the Senate with very little time left, so the pressure is on.
Below is a little more detail with what has happened or is happening with the above legislation.
Prairie Burning - SCR 1623
After three days of hearings from cattle ranchers, health officials, city representatives, and conservationists, the resolution which asked the EPA to exempt the Flint Hills from a smoke management plan has passed out of committee Wednesday, and immediately passed through the Senate on Thursday.
The newly appointed director of the region seven EPA Carl Brooks gave testimony on this issue last week. He stated that he appreciates the work and the focus on the issue, and that all actions create ozone, and all will need to be involved to reduce it. The science of ozone is always changing, and because its effects are more onerous, the ozone limits have been changed. He summarized 5 key points in his presentation from the EPA's perspective.
- There is an on-going need to try to reconcile science and production of food.
- Ag production is crucial.
- Pasture burning is a tool.
- Kansans need to continue to work on this issue knowing that nothing will probably affect this burning season.
- EPA recognizes its responsibility to provide assistance and contribute to the science.
Property Assessed Clean/Renewable Energy (PACE or PARE) - HB 2729 (formerly HB 2663)
It is rare to see potentially powerful legislation, which spurs the advancement of energy efficiency in homes, businesses, and schools, gain as much traction in just a single session as PACE has. The reports from chairs of committees and from the speaker’s office were that this legislation was not going to get above the line this session. For a while we feared the worst and thought it was dead, but we always had hope - based upon the merits of this legislation, and that we would be able to bring it back next year and get it through. Well, because of the power of your calls, legislators realized people were paying attention and wanted the opportunity to save money and energy through a PACE program.
There are only a few select committees on the Senate side that we will be able to get this legislation through. Fortunately, after talking with many of the senators, including Senator Apple, chairman of the Senate Utilities committee, it looks as though we will be able to get this heard. Once we know the bill number and where this legislation will be heard we may need to start making more calls, so stay tuned. In the meantime go to www.PACEnow.org and read about the pace program, write letters to your editors, tell your friends about this innovative new financing tool that could create new jobs, significantly reduce energy usage in homes, and save consumers money. And, as always, should you have a questions or would like help writing a letter I can be reached at Chris@PrincipalStrategy.com
Passenger Rail aka The Northern Flyer (HB 409)
HB 409 which had already passed through the House also made it through the Senate this week and is onto the Governor for his signature.
HB 409 establishes the passenger rail service program and provides for powers and duties of the Secretary of Transportation to establish the passenger rail service revolving fund. As I've noted in other updates and in testimony, Rail provides a solution for many of our most urgent transportation, energy, and environmental problems. The energy and environmental benefits of rail are significant. It would help to decongest choke points, put more freight and passengers on fuel-efficient trains, and lower our state's greenhouse gas emissions.
The Northern Flyer Alliance deserves our thanks and praise for the work they have done building up a coalition of organizations and a bipartisan group of legislators to fight for this great piece of legislation. Many of the volunteers worked directly with the Northern Flyer Alliance getting postcards signed and making calls in to Legislators to support this legislation, and I am very happy to have been able to work with them on this great issue.
SR 1809, a.k.a. Opposition to the Regulation of Greenhouse Gases
Senate Resolution 1809 is out of committee and now moving to the full Senate.
It is unfortunate that the legislature is wasting valuable time debating the legitimacy of science while we're in the midst of a budget crisis that threatens environmental safeguards, our educational system, our state's economy, and the well-being of Kansans.
It is also unfortunate that the Legislature doesn't take science seriously, as science replaces private prejudice with publicly verifiable evidence, and this is obviously another attempt to inject prejudice into a settled matter.
An Update on the Holcomb Expansion
By Stephanie Cole, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign
Last month Sunflower Electric submitted a revised air permit for the proposed Holcomb expansion. After Governor Parkinson entered into a private agreement with Sunflower, which attempted to allow Sunflower to construct one 895 MW coal plant, Sierra Club and Earthjustice requested that the state require Sunflower to submit a new air permit that reflects the newly proposed project, and we asked that the state host public hearings to allow for proper citizen input.
When Governor Parkinson reached an agreement with Sunflower, citizens were not allowed to express their concerns on the project and we believe citizen input is an important part of a permitting process - especially when it deals with a project that carries the massive financial and environmental risks that the Holcomb expansion does. Shortly after Sierra Club sent our letter to the state, the EPA issued their own letter, which agreed with the requests of Sierra Club and Earthjustice and directed the state to require Sunflower to submit an updated air permit and hold public hearings to allow for citizen input.
KDHE is currently doing a review of the permit and has reported this process will take three to six months. Once their review is done, public hearings will be scheduled. Sierra Club is currently reviewing the permit application and will provide comments on it at the appropriate time. We will also keep you informed on the details of public hearings as they become available. While we have many objections to the agreement Governor Parkinson offered to Sunflower, we are encouraged that this issue is no longer consuming public time in the legislature and is now being reviewed at the Department of Health and Environment and in the courts.
We will continue to rely upon your support and involvement to ensure Kansas moves forward with the clean energy technologies that will ultimately put us on track to solving our climate and economic challenges.
P.S. You can find your legislator by visiting
http://www.ipsr.ku.edu/ksdata/vote/ or by using the voters self defense system provided by Project Vote Smart at http://www.VoteSmart.org