October 1, 2006

State's energy policy proves frustrating for officials

Kansas legislators offered their takes on the state’s future energy policy at a panel discussion Tuesday during the state’s renewable energy conference.

Rep. Josh Svaty, D-Ellsworth, has expressed frustration in the past with the Legislature’s unwillingness to pass bills that foster community-owned wind farms.

During the panel’s discussion, Svaty grinned and glanced sideways at his colleagues as he told the audience that one major change would need to occur for the state to get behind community wind.

“First, we need a new Legislature.”

Later, a more serious Svaty and House Utility Chairman Carl Holmes, R-Liberal, both told the audience to watch for new efforts to foster such projects when the 2007 Legislature convenes in January.

Lessons of diplomacy

Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton, dished out some candid barbs on Bush’s foreign policy during a speech at the University of Kansas Wednesday night.

Calling the Iraq war potentially “the greatest disaster in American foreign policy,” she criticized Bush’s handling of the conflict and for making “his personal religious beliefs policy.”

However, during the talk at a packed Lied Center, Albright also acknowledged that she and Condoleeza Rice, Bush’s secretary of state, shared a common mentor – Albright’s father, Josef Korbel.

Korbel, a Czech diplomat who sought asylum in the United States in 1948, taught Rice while a professor at the University of Denver.

Albright and Rice are the only women so far to have served as the country’s secretary of state and both credit Korbel as a strong influence.

Albright prompted laughs when she suggested half-jokingly that she took better note of her father’s lessons than Rice did.

Albright also recounted her reaction when she learned Rice was a Republican: “Condi, how could you be? We had the same father.”

Left on Right

As an invited speaker at the energy conference, the Sierra Club’s congressional lobbyist David Hamilton blasted the coal-fired power industry in Kansas and elsewhere for their intent to build more than 100 new electric plants nationwide before Congress shuts down any further efforts.

But Hamilton turned positive when referring to one congressional member from Kansas.

“I would point to Sen. Sam Brownback as someone who has long supported renewable energy,” he said.

Hamilton, representing one of the nation’s largest environmental groups, also sent kudos to religious right leader Pat Robertson, a supporter of Brownback’s presidential bid.

“Pat Robertson now says global warming is a problem that we need to do something about,” Hamilton said.

As for the presidential race, he added, the issue of climate change would “figure prominently” in the 2008 election.

Going greener

What should Kansans expect in the next federal farm bill due up next year? A little more green, says one well-known farm economist.

“The 2002 farm bill is the ‘greenest’ on record,” said retired Kansas State University agricultural economist Barry Flinchbaugh in recent testimony before a congressional subcommittee.

And federal farm policy should head further in that direction, he said, noting that conservation “is in society’s best interest.”

“I don’t think it’s debatable,” Flinchbaugh added.

A “vigourous energy plank” in the ’07 farm bill, he said, can enhance the goal of the 25-by-25 movement – a federal resolution now before Congress stating that the nation rely upon renewable energy for 25 percent of its consumption by 2025.

What will be the result? Flinchbaugh suggests national security, improved farm income, lower energy costs, a cleaner environment and jobs and rural development.

Showing support

It could cost some supporters quite a few pennies to show their allegiance in this year’s gubernatorial race.

The Sebelius campaign encouraged backers in a recent e-mail message to buy yard signs for $6 each. Those wanting to make an even bigger statement could buy a 2×4-foot banner for $80. Bumper stickers sell for $2 a pop.

For those taking the cheaper route, people also can download free material from the Sebelius campaign Web site, including an image of the governor’s face that can be cut out and placed on a stick.

By Chris Green

and Sarah Kessinger

Harris News Service


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