The Garden City Telegram
4/29/2014
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Energy target

Lawmakers need to dismiss additional attacks on RPS.

State lawmakers are back in Topeka.

Ideally, they would finish the wrap-up session in short order, passing a revised budget and keeping other matters to a minimum.

The fear, however, is that proposals already vetted and rejected might re-emerge due to stubbornness of those who didn't get their way.

One could be another attempt to repeal the state's renewable energy standards.

A failed shot at as much didn't sit well with Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other special-interest groups funded by Wichita's billionaire Koch brothers, giants in the oil and gas industry who oppose renewable energy standards.

They all claim such mandates lead to soaring energy prices, even though facts in Kansas prove otherwise.

Part of a 2009 deal under then-Gov. Mark Parkinson, Kansas' sensible Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) called for utilities to draw 20 percent of their energy from wind and other renewable sources by 2020, and helped eliminate an obstacle to expansion of the Sunflower Electric Power Corp. plant at Holcomb.

The RPS also generated economic growth in western Kansas in particular.

While a Kansas Senate led by radical-right Republicans aligned with AFP, ALEC and their allies passed an anti-RPS bill during this year's session, Kansas House members acknowledged the benefit of the RPS. That chamber's convincing vote against repeal should have extinguished the proposal.

But we still would expect an end-around of some sort, such as repeal of the RPS being attached to another bill in the wrap-up session.

Even though lawmakers who rightly rejected the move likely have been bullied by the extremist faction pushing for the repeal, they should stand firm.

After all, as Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, correctly noted in speaking against the repeal: "This is nothing more than folks who want to exercise political power. This is about wanting to have a win for the sake of having a win without considering the potential benefit all this has."

Indeed. They want a victory to showcase elsewhere in the nation, as with their other radical legislative pursuits.

Kansas shouldn't be part of such a desperate, self-serving ploy.