Kansas Legislative News #1
Sierra Club – Kansas Chapter
22801 Golden Rd, Linwood KS 66052
While the Kansas weather seems to only be getting colder, things are heating up in Topeka as the 2012 legislative session is now underway. This week marks the first week 2012 for our legislature as well as my very first week of action at the Capitol as your new Kansas Sierra Club lobbyist. I could not be more excited to be advancing our environmental message amongst our state leaders as well as keeping all of us updated on what is happening this session.
Governor Brownback’s Agenda
W ith quite the appetite for new policies, the Kansas legislature is starting the session by filling its plate with a long list of agenda items set forth by Governor Brownback. At his Wednesday State of the State address to the legislature, the Governor spelled out some his plans, which included income tax rates, school finance formulas, and Medicaid, and more.
Making “this decade the decade of growth and job creation” seemed to be the overall theme of Brownback’s address. What better way to promote positive economic growth and job creation for Kansas then for our state to pioneer the path for renewable energy production, energy efficiency programs, and green jobs? Kansas has great opportunity to renew both rural and urban economies in a number of fashions, particularly by developing wind energy production, upgrading businesses and homes to be more energy efficient, and supporting sustainable agriculture and transportation methods. Our Governor should recognize that “going green” not only benefits our state’s health and environment, but also benefits our pocketbooks with greater economic revenue and savings.
One environmental issue highlighted in the State of the State was water conservation. The Governor proposed that we repeal the use-it-or-lose-it water law doctrine to better protect “our most precious natural resource: fresh water.” He stated that “it was way past time we move from a developmental policy with our water to a conservation ethic” and “we have no future without water.” Of course, the Sierra Club and has been making this point for quite some time. Kansans everywhere want a healthy, abundant water supply for our benefit now, for the well-being of our ecosystem, and for our future, and it appears our Governor agrees. We should support Governor Brownback and our legislators in their efforts to protect our waters from overconsumption and pollution.
Certainly, a very good way to preserve our water in Kansas is to regulate a new technique of extracting natural gas and oil called hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, or “hydrofracking,” is a process in which millions of gallons of water are pressurized, mixed with chemicals and sand, then injected underground to force buried fuels to the surface. The enormous amount of water used in hydrofracking becomes useless afterwards, as it is so contaminated with chemicals, the water cannot be cleaned or recycled. Furthermore, hydraulic fracturing poses an even greater risk to our public health and environment as it often contaminates the water supply underground as the chemicals as well as the methane from the natural gas gets dispersed into our water table. As natural gas companies obtain more gas leases from Kansas landowners, the right to abundant, clean water belonging to our people ends up in the hands of the gas industry. Thus, the regard for health and community resources gets sacrificed for corporate profits. There have been many instances around the nation where landowners have had their farm animals fallen sick and die, their community water supply contaminated, and have suffered negative health effects without any recourse from the gas companies. We cannot let this happen in our state.
Unfortunately, around 3000 natural gas sites have already been marked for hydraulic fracturing in Kansas. And, as recently as last week, Governor Brownback met with representatives from Chesapeake Energy and Sandridge Energy Cos, two of the largest hydrofracking gas companies in the nation. So it appears that hydrofracking could be impacting Kansas very soon, unless Kansans and our elected officials take action to make sure hydrofracking is regulated or restricted. Certainly, if our Governor believes our water is our most precious resource, then enacting environmental safeguards from hydrofracking is in his words, “altogether fitting and proper.”
We will see how the legislature addresses the issues of water, hydrofracking, and other environmental issues, such as state energy efficiency programs and renewable energy tax credits, over the course of the 2012 legislative session. The Kansas Sierra Club will be there to make sure that our legislators are best informed on ecological improvements we can make.
Follow what’s happening, Contact your Legislators
As the legislative session continues, I will be listing the latest bills relating to ecological preservation. I encourage everyone to follow the state’s legislation and join the Kansas Sierra Club in being active in the political process this year. Contacting your state representatives and expressing your advocacy for the environment is a great way to support our efforts in Topeka. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions. Also, thank you for being apart of Kansas Sierra Club and caring for your planet!
Kansas Sierra Club