Kansas state senator Mike Thompson (R-Shawnee), a former meteorologist, is not a supporter of clean energy. So he’s sponsoring a bill that could kneecap Kansas’ thriving wind power industry.
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Kansas wind sector under threat
Thompson, who is chair of the utilities committee and compared climate change science to Nazi propaganda at the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association’s convention in August, has introduced SB 279, “Establishing the wind generation permit and property protection act and imposing certain requirements on the siting of wind turbines.”
The bill would require wind and solar farms to be built on land zoned for industrial use. But here’s the problem with that proposal in Kansas: Half of the state’s 105 counties are unzoned, so clean energy advocates say the bill could effectively bring wind energy growth to a halt. And counties that want clean energy that have chosen not to be zoned would then be forced to be zoned as industrial.
So this bill could have a very negative impact in Kansas, as it ranks No. 2 in the US for wind power. “In 2020, wind energy accounted for 43% of Kansas’s electricity net generation, which was the second-highest share of wind power for any state after Iowa,” according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Kimberly Svaty, a public policy consultant for the Kansas Power Alliance, which represents the state’s clean energy industry, said [via the Kansas City Star]:
It would be sending a message…that, well perhaps Oklahoma, or Missouri, or Nebraska, or Texas, or Iowa would be a better and more stable state in which to invest dollars.
The Kansas City Star adds:
[Wind] is the least expensive energy source in Kansas and has created 22,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state, according to an 2020 economic impact report by the Kansas City-based Polsinelli law firm.
So what’s Thompson’s beef with renewables? He explains it in his own words in an April 2, 2021, opinion piece in the Topeka Capital-Journal. You can read his two cents by clicking this link, in which he throws everything he’s got at wind power, from rural residents’ rights to turbine blade landfill, but here’s an excerpt:
One only needs to take a drive through most of Kansas to understand the excesses caused by an unchecked industry propped up by government. The staggering number of wind turbines (over 40 fields in total) has destroyed much of the beautiful Kansas landscape. Wildlife is being chased away, and birds, bats, and even beneficial insects are being wiped out. Stray voltage has negative impacts on dairy cattle.
Once you cut through all the reasons given for why solar and wind shouldn’t be allowed, it always, always comes down to a couple of things for anti-clean energy folks. One, they have a connection to fossil fuels – and it’s fossil fuels that are destroying the planet – or two, they just don’t want to look at them. (Because fossil fuel plants are so picturesque.) In Thompson’s case, it’s all of the above and more. It’s a whole lotta NIMBYism. So we’ll just leave this right here for Senator Thompson:
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