Monthly Archives: June 2013

Renewable-Energy Subsidies and Electricity Generation

by Veronique de Rugy

Mercatus Center

George Mason University

This chart uses data from the US Energy Information Administration to compare federal investments in green energy and the share of green energy in electricity generation. 

Wind energy receives the lion’s share of renewable-energy grants. The industry has received nearly $30 billion in federal subsidies and cash grants over the past 35 years, and Washington has promised another $12 billion in subsidies in the next decade.

Among the specific fuels and technologies, wind plants received the largest share of direct federal subsidies and support in fiscal year 2010, accounting for 42 percent of total electricity-related subsidies. From 2000 to 2010, federal wind subsidies grew by an average of 32 percent per year while subsidies for other energy sources remained relatively flat. Between fiscal years 2007 and 2010, annual wind subsidies grew from $476 million to nearly $5 billion almost tenfold. 

While the data of the full amount of subsidies is not available, as of March 21, 2013 DOE’s 1603 program funded $18.2 billion in cash grants for renewable energy projects. Furthermore, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the wind industry has received $8.4 billion in subsidies through May 2012. 

Wind energy is subsidized through dozens of different federal credits, grants, and loan guarantees. These programs give wind producers significant pricing advantages over other, more reliable sources of energy. Despite this advantage and the extraordinary federal investments in wind energy, wind energy produced only four percent of the entire US electricity generation in 2012, coming in a distant fifth place behind coal, nuclear, natural gas, and hydropower.

Taxpayers should not be forced to shell out billions of dollars on subsidies for such a low-value energy generator that has already been heavily subsidized for 35 years.

Data note: electricity generation data from the EIA were updated in May 2013; subsidy data were not. Therefore, we use the 2010 figures in order to compare total subsidies, support received, and share in total generation. Solar provided 0.02 percent of total electricity generation in 2010.

NOAA Study Finds Anglers Top U.S. Lightning Victims

NOAA’s National Weather Service has discovered that 64 percent of lightning deaths since 2006 occurred while people were participating in leisure activities, with fishing topping the list at 26 deaths. John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Weather Service, conducted the study by examining demographic information for 238 deaths attributed to lightning over the last seven years. NOAA released these findings on the first day of National Lightning Safety Awareness Week to call attention to the danger of outdoor activities during a thunderstorm.

Of the 152 deaths associated with leisure activities, fishing is followed by camping (15 deaths), boating (14 deaths), soccer (12 deaths) and golf (8 deaths). The remaining 77 people were struck by lightning while participating in a number of other leisure activities like enjoying the beach, swimming, walking and running, riding recreational vehicles, and picnicking or relaxing in their yard. Between 2006 and 2012, 82 percent of people killed by lightning were male.

“When people think of lightning deaths, they usually think of golf,” Jensenius said. “While every outdoor activity is dangerous when a thunderstorm is in the area, outdoor activities other than golf lead to more lightning deaths. NOAA has made a concerted effort to raise lightning awareness in the golf community since we began the campaign in 2001, and we believe our outreach has made a huge difference since lightning-related deaths on golf courses have decreased by 75 percent.”

Jensenius said the large number of fishing, camping and boating lightning deaths may occur because these activities require extra time to get to a safe place. “People often wait far too long to head to safety when a storm is approaching, and that puts them in a dangerous and potentially deadly situation,” he said.

Prior to the lightning safety campaign, lightning killed an average of 73 people each year in the United States. Since the National Weather Service launched the campaign, the average has dropped to 37. Seven people have died from lightning strikes so far this year.

The best way for people to protect themselves against lightning injury or death is to monitor the weather and postpone or cancel outdoor activities when thunderstorms are in the forecast. Lightning can strike from 10 miles away, so if people can hear thunder, they are in danger of being struck by lightning. The only safe places to be during a thunderstorm are in a building with four walls and a roof or in a car. A hut, cabana, tent, or other rain shelter will not protect a person from being struck by lightning.

FWS grants Huelskamp’s request that it again delay a final listing determination for the Lesser Prairie Chicken

FWS grants Huelskamp’s request that it again delay a final listing determination for the Lesser Prairie Chicken so that it can solicit more scientific data.

Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) celebrated the news he received June 27th from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Daniel Ashe per the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) 

Director Ashe wrote: “Thank you for your letter of June 21, 2013 … requesting that the [Service] consider a six-monthextension under the Endangered Species Act (Act) on the final listing determination for the lesser prairie-chicken.… The Servicewill soon publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing a six-month extension of the final listing determination for the lesserprairie-chicken through March 30, 2014. Public comments received by the Service since the publication of the proposed rule havehighlighted substantial scientific disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data relevant to the listingproposal for the lesser prairie-chicken. Therefore, as the law allows, the Service is extending the final listing determination for sixmonths in order to solicit additional data and information that will help to clarify these issues.”

Congressman Huelskamp made the following statement:

“We welcome Director Ashe’s decision to grant our request to extend for six months the comment period for the potential LPC listing under the Endangered Species Act.  This is a positive development in our demonstration of the effectiveness of voluntary efforts by landowners, businesses, and state and local governments to handle any LPC issue.  I remain confident that the regional voluntary plan, if fairly reviewed, will be sufficient to avoid the unnecessary listing of the LPC and protect the rights of individual landowners and the states.  An LPC listing would pose a grave threat to many businesses across the Big First Congressional district, especially our farmers, ranchers, and energy companies.”

Rep. Huelskamp and his staff have repeatedly met with FWS director Ashe and other FWS officials over the last six months, emphasizing the role that state and local officials and private landowners are playing in protecting the species. He continues to work with Representatives who have LPC habitat in their districts to ensure that both the bird and the rights of landowners are protected. He looks forward to the FWS recognizing the adequacy of these efforts that will preclude the necessity of a federal listing of the species.

Kansas Outdoor Recreation Survey 2013

State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan seeks public input

As part of the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is providing a forum and survey to learn more about what park-goers want. Public input is desired on topics including managed park use, issues and needs, and the types of experiences park-goers hope to have in the future.

Public input gathered from the forum will be shared with the State Outdoor Recreation Plan Advisory Committee at their September meeting. The online forum, moderated by Dr. Sid Stevenson of Kansas State University, will focus on four topics during specific time frames:

June 21-July 4: Which outdoor recreation facilities are most in need of renovation or replacement at state and federal parks in Kansas to best enhance outdoor recreation experiences? Specific examples are welcomed.

July 5-July 18: Share a story of a meaningful outdoor recreation experience that you or your family had in Kansas and how the site where that experience took place contributed.

July 19-Aug. 1: Which of the following local outdoor recreation experiences would you like most to be within walking distance of your home (if you live in town)? Trails, picnic areas, sports venues, natural areas, playgrounds, etc.

Aug. 2-Aug. 15: Improved access to natural outdoor experiences, particularly those that are water-based, is important for urban dwellers. Please provide suggestions on how this can best be achieved and examples of success stories.

The Kansas Outdoor Recreation Needs and Issues survey, which is being offered in conjunction with the forum, will assist outdoor recreation planners and agency decision makers in developing strategies to address important issues facing outdoor recreation in Kansas over the next five to 10 years. Participants should expect to take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete the survey.

SCORP serves as a vision for outdoor recreation in Kansas. It is designed to meet the requirements of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (LWCF) which requires states to have an approved State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan on file with the National Park Service.

For more information, visit

Application Deadline for Limited Resident Elk Permits July 12

General resident, landowner/tenant, and hunt-own-land elk permits can be purchased online

Boasting body weights that can easily reach a quarter-ton, elk are one of the largest land mammals to roam Kansas. Known for their brute strength and the extraordinary antlers of males, these members of the deer family are prized by big game hunters far and wide, and were native on the Kansas prairie before settlement.

Although individuals and small herds exist throughout the state, most Kansas elk are concentrated on Fort Riley in elk management unit 2a. This summer, hundreds of hunters and military personnel will apply for a Fort Riley elk permit, however only about 25 will receive one. Fort Riley elk permits issued this year will include 10 either-sex and 15 antlerless-only. The 15 antlerless-only permits will be divided evenly among three segments: October, November, and December.

For other who wish to hunt elk outside of Fort Riley, general resident, landowner/tenant, and hunt-own-land permits are available. An unlimited number of resident and landowner/tenant either-sex or antlerless-only permits authorized for Unit 3 are available online and over-the-counter July 30, 2013 through March 14, 2014. Unlimited hunt-own-land either-sex and antlerless-only elk permits authorized for Units 2 and 3 will also be made available online and over-the counter through March 14, 2014. Hunt-own-land permits are valid during any season with equipment authorized for that season.

Elk permit prices are as follows:

Any-Elk (Either-sex)

General Resident: $252.50

Hunt-own-land: $127.50

Resident Youth (15 and younger): $127.50

Antlerless-Only Elk

General resident: $102.50

Hunt-own-land: $52.50

Resident Youth (15 and younger): $52.50

Elk season dates are as follows:

On Fort Riley (Elk management unit 2a)

Muzzleloader and Archery Season: Sept. 1 – Sept. 30, 2013

Firearms Season for Holders of Any-Elk Permits: Oct. 1 – Dec. 31, 2013

Firearms Antlerless First Segment: Oct. 1- Oct. 31, 2013

Firearms Antlerless Second Segment: Nov. 1 – Nov. 30, 2013

Firearms Antlerless Third Segment: Dec. 1 – Dec. 31, 2013

Outside Fort Riley (Elk management units 2 and 3)

Muzzleloader Season: Sept. 1 – Sept. 30, 2013

Archery Season: Sept. 16 – Dec. 31, 2013

Firearms Season: Dec. 4 – Dec. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1 – Mar.15, 2014

To apply for or purchase an elk permit, visit and click “Hunting /Applications and Fees / Antelope & Elk.” A fee of $7.69 will be applied to every elk permit application and to those purchasing a bonus point.

Operation Dry Water to Look for Boaters Under the Influence

Concentrated effort to curb drinking and boating slated for June 28-30, 2013

Kansas Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for boaters under the influence during Operation Dry Water June 28-30. Operation Dry Water is part of a national effort to reduce accidents and fatalities related to boating under the influence (BUI) of drugs and alcohol and educate recreational boaters about the dangers of BUI.  

KDWPT officers are responsible for patrolling the waters of Kansas and conducting boat accident investigations, boat safety inspections, BUI checks, safety programs, education classes and other boating related activities. During Operation Dry Water, officers will be out in force looking for boaters whose blood alcohol content exceeds the state limit of 0.08. The weekend will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, life jacket checks and boater education. Impaired boaters can expect to be arrested or face other serious penalties. In Kansas, the consequences for BUI include fines, jail and loss of boating privileges.  During the 2012 Operation Dry Water, eight arrests were made for BUI offenses. 

“We are dedicated to keeping boaters safe on our waters. Boating is a safe and enjoyable pastime when people stay alert and follow the rules,” said Kansas Boating Law Administrator Maj. Dan Hesket. “Many factors contribute to the way alcohol affects a person on the water, such as the sun, wind, glare, dehydration and wave motion, causing a person to become intoxicated three times faster than on shore.”

BUI is a major problem across the nation. According to U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2012, alcohol is the primary contributing factor in recreational boating fatalities. Intoxicated boaters run a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident. During calendar year 2012, Kansas recorded 27 boat accidents, of which two resulted in a fatality, 12 resulted in injuries, and 13 involved only property damage. Two people were killed, 13 were injured and there was an estimated $112,321 in property damages.        

Operation Dry Water 2013 is a joint program of KDWPT, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information, Information about Kansas boating regulations, registration, education, and requirements is at – click on Boating.

            Statistical information can be found in U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2012

What Went Wrong with the Farm Bill?

By Lara Bryant

National Wildlife Federation

After the Senate easily passed a Farm Bill earlier in June, many thought the House of Representatives had the votes in the bag to pass their own version. For 2 years, I’ve been working on farm bill policy, and I’ve got to say, I was looking forward to getting it done and moving on to other things. To tell the truth, I wasn’t even paying much attention to the final House vote, when various expletives from nearby cubicles preceded the surprising news — the final Farm Bill failed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 195-234.

In retrospect, it’s easy to see what went wrong, and maybe, the final result is not so surprising.

The Senate and House versions of the farm bill were similar in many respects, but the few differences were hugeThe House farm bill’s downfall was a major budget reduction to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly know as the food stamp program. The House farm bill cut SNAP by about $20 billion over five years, compared to $4 billion in the Senate. It is no secret that House Democrats and President Obama were not pleased with the cuts, but many believed that the bill would pass and that the Senate and House would work out an acceptable compromise on a final farm bill that the President could approve. However, many House Republicans thought that cuts to food stamps were not severe enough. When RepresentativeSteve Southerland (R-FL) introduced and passed a work requirement for food stamps, some say it was too much to retain support for many House Democrats. Whether or not the Southerland amendment was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the House bill failed spectacularly, with 172 Democrats and 62 Republicans voting against.

What does the Farm Bill failure mean for wildlife?

It’s not good news. The House bill was a bit of a stinker for conservation, especially when acritical amendment was withdrawn that would have required some minimum conservation practices in return for crop insurance premium subsidies. (Why was the Thompson-Fortenberry Crop Insurance Accountability amendment withdrawn? That’s an interesting tale, so stay tuned for part 2 of this blog, coming very soon.) However, if the bill had passed there would have been an opportunity to improve it in conference between the Senate and the House before the final legislation was approved.

The 2008 Farm Bill extension expires in September, so some sort of extension or legislation must pass before certain aspects of the farm bill revert to wacky permanent farm law from 1938In the meantime, farm bill conservation will pay the price for Congress’s inaction. As long as conservation compliance is not connected to crop insurance, taxpayers are actually paying incentives for wetland drainage, conversion of native grassland, and risky farming practices that could lead to soil erosion and reduced water quality. Futhermore, with each passing year that Congress fails to pass a five-year bill, the available baseline of funding for conservation decreases and the picture will begin to look very bleak for wildlife.

Farm bill conservation programs benefit millions of acres of wildlife habitat. It is absolutely critical that a five-year farm bill is passed, and that it contains key provisions to protect land, water and wildlife.

So, what is the solution?

It is hard to say what will happen next for the farm bill. The Senate version passed easily, had the President’s approval, and was a strong farm bill that contained key provisions for conservation. Could the House adopt a version of the Farm Bill modeled on the Senate bill? Could we avoid the political gridlock by separating SNAP from the Farm Bill? Should they put Tywin Lannister in charge of the whole thing? It is hard to say what could work, but Congress must do something, and citizens need to weigh in and make it clear that the farm bill is a priority. We need a strong farm bill that ensures a safety net for farmers to provide all of us with an affordable food supply, while protecting our natural resources. Stay tuned to see how you can help.

Southeast Kansas Nature Center Changes Management

The Kansas mussels exhibit is one of the exhibits in the SE Kansas Nature Center in Galena.

Unique outdoor education facility to be operated by state agency

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will operate the Southeast Kansas Nature Center (SEKNC), Galena, under a lease agreement with the city of Galena. The center sits on a hilltop in picturesqueSchermerhorn Park, overlooking Shoal Creek south of the city.

The lease, finalized earlier this month, allows KDWPT to lease the center and 10.1 acres of Schermerhorn Parkfor $1.00 annually for a term of two years, with an option to renew for two additional years. KDWPT will manage the center, care for the exhibits, maintain the nature trails currently on the property and provide education programming. The city of Galena will continue to own and manage the park (including Schermerhorn Cave and the park area along Shoal Creek) and maintain the center. KDWPT already owns property on both sides of Shoal Creek south and east of the park.        

Several exhibits and some equipment at the SEKNC are on loan from other sources. Those items, including a working bee hive and a large insect collection, are excluded from the lease and will remain under private ownership.

“We are excited to take over the operation of the center so we can expand our educational presence to southeast Kansas,” said Ross Robins, KDWPT Education Section Chief. “It is a valuable addition to our portfolio of education centers at Junction CityGreat BendWichita, Pratt and Olathe. We’re looking forward to fostering our partnerships with Pittsburg StateGalena schools and local organizations and to offering great outdoor education experiences for visitors and communities in the area.”

Jennifer Rader has been hired as center director. “I am thrilled to be a part of this new phase in the center’s life,” she said. “Schermerhorn Park has an incredible diversity of wildlife and habitat perfect for outdoor education.Galena residents are highly supportive of the nature center and what former director Linda Phipps has done for environmental education. I plan to build on her legacy and provide more center-based and outreach programs for area schools, organizations and the public. We also want to explore internship and volunteer opportunities for local colleges, service projects for interested groups and partnerships with other environmental education programs.”

Schermerhorn Park is ideally situated in the 55-square mile Ozark Plateau geologic region in far southeastKansas. The region features the oldest surface rocks in the state, and many of the hillsides are covered with hardwood forest dominated by oaks and hickories. Galena is an anchor point for the Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway, which stretches between Galena and Baxter Springs.

The Southeast Kansas Nature Center is located at 

3511 South Main Street

 (K-26), Galena. Phone 620-783-5207. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 pm.

New Project ChildSafe Website Offers Tools to Encourage Firearm Safety in the Home

Our friends at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) have launched a new Project ChildSafe website as part of its “S.A.F.E. Summer” campaign. The new site, and the campaign, are designed to focus attention on the importance of safe and responsible firearm storage, to reinforce that anyone who is going to own a firearm should respect it and secure it, and to provide educational resources that can help prevent firearm accidents and misuse.

The enhanced site at features several new interactive tools to help educate visitors on how to properly store firearms when not in use. Visitors can also make a commitment to be a responsible gun owner. Examples of these new tools include:

● An interactive quiz to help owners determine how safely their firearms are stored

● An online pledge to practice and encourage responsible firearm ownership, shareable on social media

● A new infographic designed to help firearm owners choose a safe storage option based on their lifestyle and needs

● Links to information on where to get a Firearm Safety Kit in their area

● Tools for law enforcement agencies looking to partner with Project ChildSafe in distributing firearms safety kits and encouraging firearm safety

Learn more about Project ChildSafe and the “S.A.F.E. Summer” campaign.

Boaters get Rewarded for Wearing Life Jackets this Summer

As summer heats up, the KDWPT “Wear It Kansas” boat will be hitting the water to educate boaters about life jacket safety
This summer, if you see a boat clad with the “Wear It Kansas” logo, you might want to motor over and say hello– it could get you some free stuff. In an effort to promote life jacket use on Kansas waters, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) boating education coordinator, Erika Brooks, will be hitting the water to give away free t-shirts and tank tops to boaters wearing a life jacket. Brooks will also educate boaters about proper life jacket practices, as well as ways to improve their overall safety while on board.

“It’s much easier to show people how life jackets are supposed to fit correctly and what ‘readily accessible’ means when you are working with their personal equipment,” said Brooks. “Proper use of safety equipment can play a large part in reducing accidents and fatalities. In fact, out of the 43 boating-related fatalities we have seen in the past nine years, 86% of the parties involved did not have a life jacket on.”

One of the biggest concerns that Brooks has encountered in past efforts is that boaters will forego wearing a life jacket because they harbor the dated notion that life jackets are still big and bulky. “We have to educate boaters that it’s not realistic to think they can put their life jacket on in time if they are involved in an accident,” Brooks said. “Think about trying to put a seat belt on in the middle of a car crash. It’s called an accident for a reason– if we could see it coming, we would avoid it.”

Current “Wear It Kansas” boating dates include:

June 29, Bill Hill Reservoir

July 5-6, Wilson State Fishing Lake

July 20-21, El Dorado Reservoir

Aug. 3-4, Pomona Reservoir

Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Milford Reservoir

To get the most up-to-date information on upcoming appearances and contests, visit the Wear It Kansas Facebook page at – you just might be the next person who wins for “wearing it.”