Archive for Monday, May 16, 2011

Cowley County officials say they weren’t consulted before Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to expand Flint Hills protection area

May 16, 2011


— Local officials who worked for years to get a wind farm in a southeast Kansas county are angry they weren't consulted before Gov. Sam Brownback entered into an agreement with wind-energy companies to expand the area of the Flint Hills where new wind turbines are off-limits.

Cowley County commissioners had been working with a company, BP Wind Energy, to build a wind farm in the northeast corner of the county. That area now falls within the Tallgrass Heartland, an 11,000-square-mile chunk of Kansas now protected from wind farm growth, the Wichita Eagle reported Sunday.

The new area is more than twice the size of the off-limits area that former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius established in 2005. Brownback's deal with wind-energy companies was announced earlier this month.

"I can't believe the governor would do that," said Goff Searl, a commissioner in Chautauqua County, which sits next to Crowley County and is in the protected area. "That's economic development he just said no to."

Although his county didn't have plans for a wind farm, Searl said it wasn't right for the government to take away its right to do so.

More than 400,000 acres of tallgrass prairie once covered North America, but only about 4 percent of that is left, most of it in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Brownback envisions economic development in the area, but in the form of tourism, not energy generation.

Some county officials, lawmakers and landowners are irate. Not only were they not included in discussions about expanding the protected area, they weren't even told about it. Property rights and the potential loss of economic development opportunities are among the biggest issues for them.

Three state legislators who live in the county — two Republicans and one Democrat — sent a joint letter of protest to Brownback. Cowley County Commission Chairman Gary Wilson sent two emails to President Barack Obama, but Wilson doesn't think that will do any good.

Asked why Brownback didn't consult with local landowners and county officials, spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said in an email that county commissioners weren't contacted. She didn't respond to a request for a further explanation.

Existing wind farms and proposed ones that have an agreement to sell power to a utility are allowed to continue operating in the area, but won't be able to expand.

Cowley County commissioners said BP Wind Energy needed only to obtain a power purchase agreement with a utility before it could start building. But company officials said they were already considering pulling out of the project for other reasons, before Brownback announced his plan.

"I think there were probably already a few nails in that coffin," said Karl Pierce, BP's business development director who oversaw the Cowley County project.

He said BP had been trying to get a power-purchase agreement since 2006, but wasn't close to getting one. Also, two of the larger leases on the 30,000-acre project expired in December and January.

"We were trying to decide what to do about the leases," Pierce said. "We were in that decision mode, anyway. Then this (expanded restricted area) came up and helped us make our decision."

In addition to Cowley County, officials in Morris, Marion, Elk, Butler and Chautauqua counties also said they weren't consulted about Brownback's deal. Nor were the three members of the county's legislative delegation, who said they heard about the plan after the fact.

That prompted Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, and Reps. Kasha Kelley, R-Arkansas City, and Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield, to send a letter to the governor arguing that excluding county officials "appears to fly in the face of the concept of open and transparent government."


Beth Bird 7 years, 1 month ago

I will say it again - Dictatorship anyone?

Scott Tichenor 7 years, 1 month ago

All hail the emperor, Governor Brokeback.

Kontum1972 7 years, 1 month ago

gas chambers are to the Reichstag.....

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

He is a scary dude and I did not vote for him. However protecting the flint hills is a good choice in this matter. Its really a jewel in the middle of farm land. Most states protect the natural wonders and this is no exception. I cant believe Im saying this but I back brownback on this one.

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

O.K. none2. I have twenty acres in the flint hills that is a nature reserve-hows that for words and deeds?Careful what you ask for! I have a cabin than has NO electricity out there-so I don't have transmission lines! It is heated by a wood stove and The Cabin was built with recycled native stone and recycled untreated wood pallets. I have spent the last 15 years removing the old metal and what not that the last owners left. Basically removing "all signs of human activity". Im totally against coal plants, way against Nuclear power plants and for wind power-just not right in the middle of the lovely flint hills.

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

Good god none2 I can see why you go by none because you are a hater my friend!! How about some respect for other peeps way of life?? Judging me with such little information reveals that you need some time off and a different perspective. Yes I do use "unreliable satellite" but sometimes its the only way. You go about your drone life and live it out as you see fit. My lady is from western kansas so Im very familiar with the western part of the state and you forgot to mention the cimarron grasslands, the red hills, the chalk pyramids and cheyenne bottoms just to name a few more.

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

I see things differently thats all. Im a Native american mix and proud of that and my connection to the land. Whatever your hang up is thats your issue just dont be doling out insults. It just looks bad. P e A c E!!

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

Once again Im not against western Kansas. We are both in the same state for crying out loud! Im sure you have the same converstations that I do about defending kansas as a whole. Im ending this chat. Good luck!!!!!

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

What part of "Im for wind energy" didnt you get??

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the info. I do see bald eagles from time to time in the flint hills by the way. I see turkey vultures more now than in previous years and wonder why in the last few years they were on a decline. They seem to have recovered quite well. Oh and dont forget solar. Its come a long way and Our great state is not a bad place for that alternative either.

grandnanny 7 years, 1 month ago

You may have not noticed the exemptions - the power companies can put up huge transmission towers in the area. Having seen wind turbines and transmissions towers, I prefer the turbines. The huge transmission towers are closer together and have huge wires running between them - not very pretty sights. How are we protecting the flint hills again?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

I'd say his motivation was limiting the development of wind energy, and hence competition with coal, natural gas and nuclear, than any interest in preserving the view in the Flint Hills.

Chris Golledge 7 years, 1 month ago


Combined with others like Moran, who says we need coal power for Kansas, despite having full knowledge that Kansas will be receiving very little of the power.

Let's see, according to the Repubs we need power that we won't be getting, a coal plant will consume water that could otherwise be used for irrigating farmland (where the proceeds would go directly into the local economy, and the proceeds from selling electricity to CO will go where?), and now Brownback places more impediments in the way of developing competition for coal-generated power.

Is it not transparent?

verity 7 years, 1 month ago

You do have a point there. Brownback is very transparent---but I don't think he means to be. Or he just doesn't care.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes, Brownback is using the excuse of preserving the Flint Hills to hinder wind power and assist coal, nuclear, and natural gas. He knows which side his bread is buttered on.

verity 7 years, 1 month ago

"I'd say his motivation was limiting the development of wind energy, and hence competition with coal, natural gas and nuclear, than any interest in preserving the view in the Flint Hills."


Just when you think he can't get any worse . . . .

Governor Brownback, you are never going to be President of the U.S.A. You've cooked that goose. Or maybe you just aspire to a job working for Koch. I'm sure it pays more than the presidency.

BigPrune 7 years, 1 month ago

George Soros owns politicians all over the country, not to mention reporters - one of his publication mouth pieces does a hatchet job on the Kochs and everyone is up in arms.

Everyone I've ever met from Cowley County is a liberal. They might say they're a republican, but they're a democrat in drag.

Chris Golledge 7 years, 1 month ago

Hmm, so what you are saying is that you don't recognize that a conservative Democrat, or a liberal Republican could exist. I'd say that means the right-wing has successfully taken over the Republican party.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

Thankfully so as it will doom them to permanent minority status once reasonable people get fed up with their shenanigans.

average 7 years, 1 month ago

Keep making that tent smaller, Prune.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

Actually, the republicans have a big tent. They're just all huddled in one corner.

gudpoynt 7 years, 1 month ago

Big Prune, here are links to the 2011 and 2008 general elections for Cowley county.

They show, not surprisingly at all, that your personal experience is in no way a reflection of factual circumstance.

Oh, to live under the shelter of the solipsistic right wing.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 1 month ago

This is a parody post, as BigPrune is dear friends with both Steve Abrams and Kasha Kelley. Both are ultra-conservative, Abrams you may recall led the effort to re-write science standards while on the state Board of Ed.

BigPrune is poking fun.

jesse499 7 years, 1 month ago

He's from DC and he doesn't have to ask anybody back here anything because he's smarter then we backward homefolk.

gudpoynt 7 years, 1 month ago

Smaller government! Less government interference!

Holy cow. How many examples of contradiction have to occur before the Teapublican constituency starts to suspect something fishy?

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 1 month ago

This is all part of Brownback's "Jobs for Animals" campaign.

Hundreds, nay (neigh?) thousands of horses greet this news with great enthusiasm.

tomatogrower 7 years, 1 month ago

"Cowley County officials say they weren’t consulted before Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to expand Flint Hills protection area"

Of course he didn't consult you silly. You elected him to be king, didn't you? I know he didn't carry Douglas County. Come on Cowley County. I'm real sure you elected him, so why are you whining now. You mean, you wanted him to represent you?

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

Is it too late for a recall election?

verity 7 years, 1 month ago

Who does he think he is, God?

Oh, . . . never mind.

imagainstit 7 years, 1 month ago

One bit of hope, if Jr. Pope Brownback continues to alienate people of all political affiliations within the state the next four years, his stench may so permeate ill will amongst enough Kansans, that all the Koch money in the world may not buy him the Presidency.

Jan Rolls 7 years, 1 month ago

He has as much chance as trump who announced he wasn't running today. Please note that before they couldn't put enough stuff about trump on the website but today both ljw and cj make no mention up to now that trump is out.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Sam Brownback does not give a damn about the Flint Hills.

His agenda is more toxic dirty coal or nuke power.

Besides economic growth and tons of new jobs are NOT his forte.

Tourism eh? He has no idea what he is talking about. This was rhetoric to distract from this and/or his monster blunder.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Never forget Sam Brownback is a smart,calculating and deceptive individual.

coloradoan 7 years, 1 month ago

Although your experiences may tell you otherwise, the simple fact is that the terms you use are mutually exclusive - "lying scumbag" is not what Christianity is about, nor is Sam. He is a faux Christian as far as I can tell, who uses the claim of faith to facilitate his political agenda. He may believe he is sincere, but I don't. A Christian would follow the Christ's example of healing the lame, and tending to the sick - that would mean preserving the KNI as a means of protecting and caring for the disabled.

Bob Reinsch 7 years, 1 month ago

The Kochs were consulted, and they have more control over what happens in Cowley County than anybody that lives there. Get used to it. We're not even 6 months into Sam's first term.

Carol Bowen 7 years, 1 month ago

Reside in the correct state. Only 18 states in the United States and the District of Columbia allow for gubernatorial recalls. Only residents in one of these states may recall the governor.

Kansas is one of the states that allows a recall of the governor.

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