Comment history

Editorial: Not good news

Moody's downgrades Kansas Again

May 6, 2014 at 7:23 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Pulitzer-winning writer featured in Tuesday Lawrence library event on Keystone Pipeline

Keystone PipeLIES Exposed: The Facts on Sticky Leaks, Billion Dollar Spills, and Dirty Air

How Tar Sands Work

Tar sands oil bears little resemblance to anything most people would recognize as petroleum. In its natural form, it is not even liquid. Rather, it is solid or semi-solid bitumen, mixed with clay, sand, and water in a sticky sludge.

“It basically is a very tarry, asphalt-like substance that requires an enormous amount of energy to get out of the ground and an enormous amount of energy to move and to refine,” says Anthony Swift, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “It's a much lower grade of oil, almost liquid coal. There are many more impurities there are many more toxic substances in it” compared to conventional petroleum.

Tar sands extraction is generally done in two ways: surface mining and drilling.

Surface mining is similar to the commonly understood form of mineral extraction. Much like a gold mine or coal mine requires digging into the earth to uncover the valuable minerals held within, tar sands mining differs only in the vast areas that must be cleared and the vast amounts of earth that must be dug up to remove the bitumen.

Drilling for tar sands, however, is very different from any other form of oil drilling. Rather than poking a giant straw into an underground reservoir that then gushes up under pressure or is pumped to the surface, the bitumen locked in the soil is too thick to be pumped in a similar fashion.

Drilling for bitumen, typically undertaken when the tar sands are too deep beneath the surface for cost-effective mining, requires a multi-step process. First, a collection tube is drilled. And then above that an injection tube is drilled, which then forces superheated steam into the earth under extreme pressure, which heats and liquefies the bitumen which is been collected by the first tube.

Each process has its own significant drawbacks. Most obviously, surface mining requires a level of industrial activity on a delicate ecosystem that many people likely would find unconscionable.

“It's called the boreal forest. This is an incredibly rich ecosystem with the largest remaining intact ecosystem in North America and the tar sands would completely devastate that region,” says Kate Colarulli, associate director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil campaign. “It would pollute some of the largest freshwater rivers in North America. The Athabasca [River] is facing tremendous pollution from this, and it would create huge amounts of toxic air emissions. So what we see at the production site is an environmental Armageddon.”

May 6, 2014 at 7:17 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Number of Kansans who signed up for insurance through marketplace exceeds government's expectations

Tim Huelskamps bogus claim that #Obamacare has boosted the number of uninsured

“It’s hard to get accurate numbers on anything. But the numbers we see today is that — as I understand them — we believe there are more people uninsured today in Kansas than there were before the president’s health-care plan went into effect. And I thought the goal was to bring more people into insurance.”

– Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), remarks at a town hall in Salina, Kan., April 14, 2014

“There are more folks uninsured today in our district, we believe, than were uninsured before Obamacare kicked in.”

– Huelskamp. remarks at a town hall in Hays, Kan., April 17, 2014

This column has been updated with a statement from Huelskamp

Rep. Tim Huelskamp is a tea party favorite who has long been a skeptic of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, but his recent remarks during a swing of town halls jumped out at The Fact Checker. He referred to “numbers” that showed that, even after all the hoopla about 8 million Americans enrolling on the exchanges, the number of uninsured in Kansas has actually risen since the law went into effect.

What is he looking at?

May 2, 2014 at 7:57 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Moody's Investors Service downgrades state bonds, citing Kansas' sluggish economy, tax cuts

In Kansas If tax revenues are off, it’s Obama’s fault?

It has been almost comical to hear the shifting responses by Brownback administration officials to changes in state tax revenue collections. When the March tax collections came in higher than projected, Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan boasted about how “we’re seeing the Kansas economic engine running.”

But when the April collections came in $93 million less than projections (which were made only two weeks ago), Jordan and Gov. Sam Brownback blamed President Obama and the national economy. Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Kansas’ state bonds, citing the state’s sluggish economy, budget problems and revenue reductions resulting from tax cuts. Is that Obama’s fault, too?

May 2, 2014 at 7:43 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Kobach says Wisconsin voter ID ruling will have no impact on Kansas

Hey, Kris Kobach! Here’s a Hanky. Cry Me a River

A federal judge ruled that Wisconsin’s law requiring a government issued photo-id to vote places an undue burden on minority voters.

This was preceded by pro-voting-rights rulings in Pennsylvania by a state judge; and that was followed by Arkansas, where a judge said that state’s voter-id law violates the state’s constitution.

Sixteen states have laws on the books that restrict voter’s rights similar to the one in Wisconsin. Kansas is one of those states.

This is a huge win for those who understand that minorities DO have far more people who will be negatively affected by these voter-id laws.

One major fact: There has been almost NO voter fraud. So why suddenly, since President Obama was elected, are so many Republicans like Kris Kobach pushing for making voting by the poor much more difficult, if not impossible in time to vote this November?

May 1, 2014 at 7:21 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Brownback speaks to Leadership Kansas, avoids protesters

Sources: FBI examines lobbying by Brownback loyalists
Inquiry focuses on Medicaid, 'pay-to-play' formulas

April 28, 2014 at 7:45 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Brownback speaks to Leadership Kansas, avoids protesters

Running out the back door to avoid protesters. What a great show from the governor.

April 26, 2014 at 8:08 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: A blow to wind power

Kansas ALEC-Affiliated Legislator Leads Charge to Repeal Renewable Energy Standard

Here in the Midwest we are seeing the perennial first signs of Spring: a few early buds are appearing on the magnolia trees, rivers and lakes are starting to thaw, and of course, ALEC and the Koch brothers are pushing yet another pointless and harmful attack on Kansas’s wildly successful Renewable Energy Standard.

This year’s bill, Senate Bill 433, is sponsored by the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means, which is chaired by Ty Masterson, a known ALEC member and supporter of last year’s failed attack on renewable energy policy in Kansas.

Operating and proposed wind farms in Kansas. Graphic credit: Kansas Energy Information Network

It is difficult to understand why these attacks on job-creating, investment-spurring, clean energy policies continue to pop up every spring like weeds in a (solar) garden. After all, the policy has helped to spur over $7 billion in new investment in the state and create 13,000 jobs in an otherwise struggling economy.

So it is no wonder that 91 percent of Kansans support doing more with clean energy and more than two-thirds would support increasing the Renewable Energy Standard from its current goal of 20 percent renewables to 25 percent by 2020.

Kansas is a major renewables powerhouse—literally. It has the second best wind resource in the country with the technical potential to supply enough electricity to supply all of the state’s energy more than 90 times over. The state already produces enough electricity from wind to power more than 840,000 American households, and Kansas is just beginning to scratch the surface of what can be done with solar power. That means Kansas wind provides more than enough electricity to meet the needs of the combined populations of Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka, Omaha, Nebraska and Tulsa, OK and still have enough left over for Minneapolis!

March 25, 2014 at 8:12 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: A blow to wind power

Wind grows as power source in Kansas

After installing the second most new wind capacity in the United States in 2013, following on the third most in 2012, Kansas has blown past a number of states in its percentage of electricity generated from wind.

Based on its potential, however, the state has a long way to go.

Wind generation record

According to the latest data from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, Kansas utilities received 19.4 percent of their total electrical generation from wind power in 2013.

That ranked Kansas third nationally, behind only Iowa and South Dakota, which had 27 and 26 percent, respectively. The state’s goal was 20 percent by 2020.

Other states with at least 15 percent of their generation from wind included Idaho, North Dakota and Minnesota. In all, at least 20 states had some generation from wind, with 17 matching or beating the new national average of 4 percent.

“Wind energy continues to make inroads as a major contributor to the U.S. power mix,” Elizabeth Salerno, vice president of Industry Data and Analysis for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), stated in a news release. “The electricity generated by American wind power has more than tripled since 2008, not only due to significant growth in new wind projects but also technology innovation leading to more productive wind turbines.”

March 25, 2014 at 8:10 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Kansas Senate committee votes to repeal renewable energy standards

New poll data shows 89% Kansans supports

renewable energy law

The Wind Coalition and the Climate and Energy Project released new poll data showing that Kansans overwhelmingly support the development of renewable energy resources in Kansas and the state’s 2009 renewable energy law.

The poll, conducted by North Star Opinion Research, shows that Kansans support increasing renewable energy development and that the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard enacted in 2009 enjoys near unanimous support statewide.

“Kansas has been a significant beneficiary of renewable energy investment with nearly $8 billion of dollars in new investment and more than 12,000 new jobs in a decade. This poll underscores the sentiment developers see in the field – Kansans want to develop renewable energy and more of it,” said Jeff Clark, Executive Director of The Wind Coalition.

The poll found that 91% of Kansas voters are strongly supportive of using renewable energy. The poll indicates that renewable energy is just as popular as it was in 2009 when Kansas first pursued renewable energy legislation. Last year, efforts to roll back the state’s renewable energy law failed in the legislature.

March 21, 2014 at 8:19 a.m. ( | suggest removal )