Gov. Sam Brownback has caught some blowback for helping make more of the Flint Hills off-limits to wind power development, but the governor still deserves support for the measure.
After Brownback unveiled an agreement to double the size of a protected area in the Flint Hills, officials in Elk and Cowley counties announced that the deal killed a proposed BP wind farm project in their region. They criticized the governor for not consulting with them before finalizing the agreement.
But while it’s easy to see why leaders in the two counties would be disappointed in seeing the door close on an economic opportunity, their possible loss doesn’t outweigh the benefits of protecting the Flint Hills.
Notice that word, “possible.” As Brownback pointed out, BP had stated it was considering abandoning its plan before the Flint Hills deal was announced. Further, the governor suggested the company was interested in expanding its operations elsewhere, and he expressed a commitment to work with local officials.
As one of the last remaining expanses of the prairie that once covered much of the Midwest, the region is a priceless asset for Kansas. It’s our version of mountains or beaches, and the partners in the protection agreement – including Westar Energy, landowners and environmental groups – have recognized the need to keep it in pristine condition.
It’s too bad the agreement couldn’t have gone over without a hitch. But it was still the right thing to do.
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