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."


Carol Bowen 2 years, 11 months 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.


edjayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago



Bob Reinsch 2 years, 11 months 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.


Richard Heckler 2 years, 11 months ago

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


Richard Heckler 2 years, 11 months 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.


Jan Rolls 2 years, 11 months 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.


imagainstit 2 years, 11 months 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.


verity 2 years, 11 months ago

Who does he think he is, God?

Oh, . . . never mind.


gccs14r 2 years, 11 months ago

Is it too late for a recall election?


tomatogrower 2 years, 11 months 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?


Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 11 months ago

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

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


gudpoynt 2 years, 11 months 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?


Multidisciplinary 2 years, 11 months ago

Tourism in the Flint Hills is a joke. Most of these towns are dying. Slowly, but dying.No jobs for the locals to survive here. Too far for the people who have money spend, to want to come for so little to do.


jesse499 2 years, 11 months ago

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


BigPrune 2 years, 11 months 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.


verity 2 years, 11 months 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.


autie 2 years, 11 months ago

jobs/jobs/jobs/ eco tourism. Un-huh. That boy don't give a damn about no Flint Hills. Koch must not have much viable interest in wind technology.


yourworstnightmare 2 years, 11 months 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.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 11 months 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.


grandnanny 2 years, 11 months 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?


lounger 2 years, 11 months 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.


Kontum1972 2 years, 11 months ago

gas chambers are to the Reichstag.....


The_Original_Bob 2 years, 11 months ago

"Either he is a tyrant or a fool."

Are those mutually exclusive?


none2 2 years, 11 months ago

Either he is a tyrant or a fool.


autie 2 years, 11 months ago

Why do you need wind energy when you can burn stanky ass coal? And who do those people think they are talking bad about Herr Reichsminister Brownstain?


nugget 2 years, 11 months ago

All hail the emperor, Governor Brokeback.


Beth Bird 2 years, 11 months ago

I will say it again - Dictatorship anyone?


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