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Good News from America's Heartland: Another Attack on Clean Energy Falls Short

Pierre Bull

Posted March 26, 2014

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Good news from America’s heartland: A bipartisan coalition in the Kansas House stood with Kansans today in support of clean and renewable energy, turning back yet another attempt to repeal state Renewable Portfolio Standard aimed at fostering homegrown resources like wind and solar power.

Specifically, 77 members of the Kansas House of Representatives defeated a “Senate companion bill” aimed at repealing the state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that the state Senate passed 15-25 after using a rare legislative maneuver on Monday.  

Today’s vote, which kills the repeal effort for now, marks another major defeat for ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and the other front groups backed by fossil fuel interests trying to stymie the growth of clean energy in America. ALEC tried to repeal Renewable Portfolio Standards – targets requiring that a certain percentage of electricity be generated from clean energy -- in Kansas and 12 other states last year, but failed each time.

It’s extraordinary to witness the lengths that the ALEC-sponsored Senate bill sponsors went this year in order to move their RPS repeal efforts in defiance of strong popular support expressed by nine out of ten Kansans who say they want more clean energy including energy efficiency and renewable energy like wind and solar.  They know that the Kansas  RPS has spurred over $7 billion in in-state investment and created over 13,000 jobs in an otherwise sluggish economy.

The Kansas Senate bill’s sponsors had pulled a rarely-used legislative procedural trick known as “gut and go” – essentially gutting the contents of an existing bill in committee and getting the new language to “go” to a full floor vote, lickety split. But today, the Kansas House reminded their Senate counterparts of the consequences of using such tactics by defeating the companion measure in their chamber.

Perhaps taking cues from their fossil fuel industry backers, these Senators thought they could just drill beneath the daylight of transparent lawmaking procedures and public support for clean energy. Once they were deep underground they realized it’s not easy to see what’s in front or beside them. Their counterparts in the House came to the rescue, which is fortunate for Kansans.

Unfortunately, however, attempts to repeal the Kansas RPS are becoming an annual rite in the wind and solar-rich heartland state. My Midwest NRDC colleague David Weiskopf noted last week:

“Here in the Midwest we are seeing the perennial first signs of Spring: a few early buds are appearing on the magnolia trees, rivers and lakes are starting to thaw, and of course, ALEC and the Koch brothers are pushing yet another pointless and harmful attack on Kansas’s wildly successful  Renewable Energy Standard.

This year’s bill, SB 433, is sponsored by the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means, which is chaired by Ty Masterson, a known ALEC member and supporter of last year’s failed attack on renewable energy policy in Kansas.”

Today’s action in the Kansas House doesn't defeat the issue for this year. However, the vote today sends a very strong signal to the opposition that Kansans care deeply about sustaining prosperity in their state and they know that policies such as the state RPS align strongly with this core value, bringing thousands of new jobs and billions in business opportunities back to the heartland.

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Michael BerndtsonMar 27 2014 12:29 PM

This is good news. Your write up was very interesting. It gave me a headache just thinking about all that policy and policy folks trying to game the system. Not necessarily to write good policy, but to simply make sure their side wins. You'd think more conservative think tanks and similar types would not be interesting in policy, given its distaste for all things government. They sure seem to hire a lot of people interested in policy throughout its web of front groups, PR contractors, lobbying firms and whatnots. That's probably why oil and gas hasn't come up with ultra low viscosity engine oil or something, yet. Too few chemical and petroleum engineers. Too many image consultants. What will most of these folks do, after they turned US into Reagan's "Shining Beacon on a Hill," illuminating us with small government libertarian capitalism? It's not like those walking-talking skill sets are transferable. To much else.

Your post got me thinking about Kansas' potential for renewables: wind, solar and biomass. Here's energy generation potential for the US including Kansas from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)

Bottom line: renewables will be huge in Kansas. And its completely dumb not to pursue renewables in Kansas. Unless you are a Koch Brother with a private company located in Wichita.

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