What’s a Legislator To Do?

The 2008 legislative session is now underway and bills are already being considered to negate if not overturn Kansas Department of Health & Environment Secretary Bremby’s decision to deny the air permit for the Holcomb expansion.  Senate President Morris and House Speaker Neufeld are determined to overturn the decision one way or another and will be (are) pressuring other Republican legislators to work to that end.

A recent poll (http://www.climateandenergy.org) has found that overall Kansans approve of Sec. Bremby’s decision by a margin of 2 to 1 with as many as 7 in 10 in Johnson County approving it.  Even in western Kansas where the plants would be built 51% of the citizens support the decision while 40% were against it (remainder undecided.)  Of course there are those who believe the poll was biased against Sunflower, but if it accurately reflects the thinking of Kansans, what will legislators do?  Will they follow the wishes of the leadership in the Senate and House or will they follow the desires of their constituency as they are presumably to do in a representative government?

To me it is a moral question both from the point of acting on the wishes of the citizens of the state and in terms of the long-term protection of the health of our children and grandchildren as well as preserving the environment of the state and that of the planet.  Indeed, one must consider what the consequences of inaction on the production of greenhouse gases will be and the impact on our future way of life.  I believe there is a better and safer way of generating energy than burning coal.

By Tom Kneil

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