Kansas Wildlife Federation

Wednesday, June 16 2004

What’s Going on with the Flint Hills?

Awhile back, we got word from Audubon of Kansas about a “Kansas Field Tour” of the Flint Hills. One full day was given to the topic of commercial wind energy development, with two speakers from wind power companies, and one rancher who’s been a wind power booster.

Conspicuous by their absence was any presenter with doubts about commercial wind energy and the industrialization of the Flint Hills. Ron Klataske got in touch with one of the organizers and asked about this lack of balance, and he was told the conference wasn’t intended to be balanced.

That’s a problem. KWF wrote the following letter to the Governor, just to ask what was happening and what the intent was. To date, we haven’t heard back, but in fairness, I was told the staffer who was assigned to respond to us had been ill lately. To read the letter, click on “more.”

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Governor of the State of Kansas
Kansas State Capitol
300 SW 10th Avenue, Ste. 212S
Topeka, KS 66612

Dear Governor Sebelius,

I’m writing you regarding the “Kansas Field Conference” on the Flint Hills.

The sub-title on the brochure reads “Energy, Prairie and Preservation,” which is an excellent topic for our state’s policy makers. I must point out that the brochure does not say that the Flint Hills are America’s last great tallgrass prairie. It is our contention that any discussion of the Flint Hills that does not start from this basis is flawed. However, what is more important to us is that the conference agenda seems tilted towards commercial wind-power presenters, especially on Thursday June 10th.

You know that commercial wind energy is a source of intense controversy among Flint Hills residents. So we are asking you for an explanation: why are wind energy company presenters getting a free pass with no counter balancing viewpoints presented to the attendees of the conference? To an outside observer, this gives the impression of a tacit endorsement.

This impression of a tacit endorsement is further strengthened by comments made by Lee Allison of the Kansas Geological Survey to Ron Klataske at Audubon of Kansas. In response to a similar query by Mr. Klataske, Mr. Allison replied that Thursday’s meetings were not intended to be balanced. It is interesting to note that KWF, Audubon of Kansas and Protect the Flint Hills are all public interest groups excluded from this “invitation only” gathering of policy makers. Again the question: why is your administration giving wind power industry officials a forum which is admittedly intended to be unbalanced and exclusive?

This letter to you will be posted next week on our website, www.kswildlife.org. We hope to also have your response to this letter along with that posting. I look forward to hearing from you.

+ Dan @ 08:54am

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