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TMCNet:  U.K.'s Guardian lauds Gov. Brownback as 'champion' of climate change [Topeka Capital Journal (KS)]

[December 31, 2013]

U.K.'s Guardian lauds Gov. Brownback as 'champion' of climate change [Topeka Capital Journal (KS)]

(Topeka Capital Journal (KS) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The Guardian, a United Kingdom news company, is running an editorial that lists Gov. Sam Brownback as one of eight "champions of climate change in the U.S. in 2013" on the company's U.S. news website.

It is a somewhat unexpected honor for a conservative Republican governor who hasn't been particularly outspoken in the political debate over whether climate change exists and whether human activity has anything to do with it.

The compiler of the list, Anne Kelly, says Brownback is among political leaders "who fought off cynical attacks to repeal state Renewable Portfolio Standards, which have catalysed thousands of wind and solar projects across the country and generated hundreds of thousands of jobs." Kelly is policy director for Ceres, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization mobilizing business leadership on climate change" who appears to have missed the fact that legislation repealing the Kansas renewable standards never made it to Brownback's desk in 2013.

The House and Senate both had bills to roll back the standards to different degrees, but both fizzled. The Senate's bill was rejected 17-23 despite being a more watered-down measure that only postponed the renewable energy deadlines rather than repealing them. The House voted 63-59 to send its bill back to the House Energy and Environment Committee, despite the support of committee Chairman Dennis Hedke, R-Wichita, a contract geophysicist who has worked for oil and natural gas companies and consulted with a Koch Industries lobbyist on the legislation.

In both cases, wind energy advocates lobbied heavily to retain the renewable standards. Brownback has expressed consistent support for wind energy in the past but tried to stay out of the fray on the renewable standards, specifically.

In fact, when the Lawrence Journal-World asked Brownback recently about the repeal bill resurfacing in 2014, which is likely, he didn't discourage it, saying, "I don't issue veto threats." After Eileen Hawley, the governor's spokeswoman, saw the Guardian's list Tuesday she said she wasn't sure what criteria was used to compile it, but reiterated the governor's commitment to renewable energy as an economic driver.

"Two of the governor's highest priorities are job creation and increasing income for Kansas families," she said. "The renewable energy industry is making significant contributions to both of those." Zack Pistora, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club, released a significantly longer statement congratulating Brownback on making the Guardian list but also saying his group is "unsure how truly deserving he might be of this title." "Certainly we applaud our governor's continued efforts in protecting our economically successful Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) for boosting renewable energy in our state, as well as striving to enact much-needed water conservation policies," Pistora said. "However, we have yet to see Brownback keep his commitment to current and future generations of Kansans by taking an outspoken leadership role in addressing climate disruption as governor." Pistora said a majority of Kansans believe humans are contributing to climate change.

"The governor's ongoing silence on the issue has allowed other members of his party in the state Legislature to express positions of denial, ignorance and inaction to one of the most pressing issues of our time," Pistora said. "If Brownback can confront these radical positions of climate denial in the Legislature, stand by the state's policies on renewable energy and traditional family farms and ask for limits on carbon pollution from power providers, then Gov. Brownback would certainly make Kansas history as a true champion on climate change." (c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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