Kansas Sierra Club Questionnaire

1. Do you wish to be endorsed by the Sierra Club?

I would be honored to receive the endorsement of the Sierra Club. I admire the Sierra Club’s efforts to protect our environment and to promote reasonable energy policy. 

2. What elected offices have you held and how long did you hold them?

Mayor, City of Lawrence, 1 year (2005/2006)
City Commissioner, Lawrence, 6 years (2003‑2009)
KU Student Body Vice‑President, 1 year (1984)

3. In what organizations are you active?

Sustainability Advisory Board (City of Lawrence)
Douglas County Food Policy Council
Public Incentives Review Committee (City of Lawrence)
Community Mercantile Education Foundation
East Lawrence Neighborhood Association

4. What offices do you hold in these organizations?

I am a board member in the first four organizations listed above but I am not currently an officer.

5. What are your major campaign issues?

Suitable funding for education, both K‑12 and higher education
A fair tax system
Medicaid expansion
Clean and sustainable energy
Marriage equality
Protecting voting rights 

6. What has been your greatest environmental achievement?

As Mayor of Lawrence I signed the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement and started efforts toward its implementation (although there are a lot of things I would like to list). Environmental issues, especially in the area of good urban design, were one of my primary areas of effort during my time on the Lawrence City Commission.

7. If elected, how will you provide environmental leadership and on what issues will you focus your efforts?

A big part of leadership is listening and self‑education, so as a legislator I would seek input from leaders in environmental policy. I think that framing issues properly will be essential to getting any positive environmental legislation through the Kansas legislature, for instance in avoiding the term “sustainablity” and using concepts like “stewardship” instead. My policy interests are probably strongest in the areas of fostering renewable energy production, resource conservation, and sensible urban design, but I also understand the importance of habitat protection and protecting air and water quality. I also intend to continue to provide leadership by example‑‑ my house is solar‑powered now and my preferred means of local transportation is my three‑wheeled recumbent bicycle.

8. How can the Sierra Club be helpful to your campaign?

It would be helpful for me for the Sierra Club to provide background information on environmental issues. It can also provide information to its members regarding the positions and track records of candidates regarding environmental issues.


1. Do you agree that man‑made carbon dioxide emissions are significant contributors to climate change?  


2. Do you agree that higher temperatures from climate change will reduce water availability in western Kansas due to increased evaporation?


3. Do you support the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from coal‑fired power plants and transportation sources in Kansas?  

YES. Carbon dioxide is an air pollutant and should be subject to reasonable regulation like any other air pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

4. Kansas has immense wind and solar resources. Do you believe that development of such resources, especially wind, can be a major source of job creation in Kansas?

YES. Although the primary source of job creation from wind and solar development is likely to be in the installation phase, consideration should be given to the use of tax incentives to create jobs in manufacturing wind and solar equipment.

5. Do you support tax incentives to foster development of wind and solar energy?

YES. I think that market forces will eventually make wind and solar the least expensive sources of new energy, but if we are going to meet our goals for reducing carbon emissions, solar and wind capacity needs to increase now, and tax incentives are necessary to make that happen.

6. The Kansas Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires investor owned utilities to increase renewable energy production capacity to 10% by 2010, 15% by 2015, and 20% by 2020. Would you support strengthening the RPS by applying it to all utilities and by increasing the percentage requirement in following years?

YES. Energy use in buildings is the source of almost 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the emissions from the production of the energy used by those buildings is a critical component of reaching our our goals for reducing carbon emissions.

7. Do you support Net Metering to require investor owned utilities to pay retail rates for electricity from renewable resources, such as solar and wind, to non‑utility producers, such as homeowners?

YES. I was disappointed by legislation passed in the most recent legislative session that changed the “true‑up” date for net‑metering from the end of the year to the end of month and lowered the buy‑back rate, but I was pleased by Senator Francisco’s success in getting the true‑up date changed to March 31 for grandfathered net‑metering customers (of which I am one).


8. Do you support the development of tax incentives and low interest loan programs to help middle‑ and low‑income Kansans achieve energy efficiency improvements on their homes?

YES. As a member of the City of Lawrence’s Sustainability Advisory Board I have recently initiated efforts to determine whether the city can use its home rule authority to implement a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan program for private energy efficiency programs. Even if that is possible, I would be willing to initiate legislation authorizing any interested local government in Kansas to initiate a PACE program.

9. Do you support the development of an efficiency standard for investor‑owned electrical utilities that allows investments in energy conservation programs, such as rebates for installation of energy efficient appliances and installation of “smart meters” to reduce peak demand, to be included in the rate base?

YES. Investments in energy reduction can be cheaper per unit of energy than investments in new capacity and are clearly more beneficial from an environmental standpoint, so I would support allowing utilities to include these investments in their rate bases as a means of encouraging these practices.

10. Exploration and production of natural gas through horizontal hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is widely used. Environmental concerns include water pollution, earthquakes from the underground injection of wastewater, consumption of large amounts of water, and emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. Do you support regulations to address these issues, including disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking, protection of water resources, and air emissions?

YES. Hydraulic fracturing clearly has the potential for significant environmental damage and therefore should be subject to reasonable regulation.


11. The Ogallala Aquifer is a major source of ground water in western Kansas. Water levels have been greatly reduced in multiple areas because the rate of withdrawals from the aquifer, mostly for irrigation of crops, has exceeded the rate of recharge (replenishment from rainfall). Do you favor reducing the rate of withdrawal to the rate of recharge to preserve this resource?

YES. The alternative to limiting withdrawal to the rate of recharge is reducing large areas of the state to a desert in the service of short‑term gain. Any such limitations should be finely tuned to local conditions because of the significant variations in depletion rates across the state.


12. Flint Hills burning. The annual burning of pasture in the Flint Hills has caused multiple exceedances of ozone smog standards in Kansas City, Wichita and/or Topeka. Excessive burning has also been closely linked to the decline of grassland birds like the greater prairie chicken. Would you support efforts by KDHE and the Kansas State University Extension to promote less damaging burning practices like “patch burning” in the Flint Hills?


13. CAFO REGULATION. Large Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are a major source of pollution to the waterways of Kansas, threaten to contaminate groundwater, and emit large amounts of ammonia, allergenic particles and odors to the air. Would you support legislation to tighten regulation of CAFOs in practical ways like requiring direct injection of wastewater into fields with excessive slopes to reduce runoff, reducing loadings of manure to lagoons to reduce odor and tightening cleanup rules at time of facility closure?

YES. As an attorney at KDHE I was involved in numerous administrative cases involving regulation of CAFOs, so I am familiar with the kind of environmental damage that these facilities can cause when they are not properly operated.

14. Local Control: Do you support the existing law for county control, including county‑wide referenda, to decide whether corporate‑owned swine and dairy CAFOs are allowed to operate within a county?

YES. Because of the potentially severe environmental damage that these facilities can cause, and in the spirit of Kansas’s traditional restrictions on corporate agriculture, I support allowing county control of corporate‑owned swine and dairy CAFOs.


15. Recent studies of the lesser prairie chicken in southern Kansas and surrounding states have found it “threatened” with extinction. Would you support a program to make sure the lesser prairie chicken species remains viable in Kansas for its own sake, for the regional ecology and for the enjoyment of future generations?

YES. I stand with the lesser prairie chicken. Preservation of threatened and endangered species involves values that can’t be adequately figured into a cost‑benefit analysis.

16. Do you agree that the Federal Endangered Species Act should be the ruling authority regarding endangered species rather than the Kansas legislature?

YES. I don’t think that the current Kansas legislature has demonstrated sufficiently sound judgment to be trusted with the fate of endangered species.


17. Regarding the public transportation budget, would you support legislation to allocate 20 percent of the transportation budget for mass transportation such as light rail, Amtrak and/or inter‑city rail, bus transit, and bike and pedestrian infrastructure?

YES. As a city commissioner in Lawrence, I worked hard to improve the walkability and bikeability of our city. A viable public transportation system is critical for achieving our climate protection goals. I strongly support efforts to complete an Amtrak connection between Kansas City and Oklahoma City. While I support efforts for light rail connections from Topeka to Kansas City, commuter rail and bus connections may be a more feasible short term option‑‑ during my time on the commission I supported funding for the “Jo” bus system between Lawrence and Johnson County and expansion of our city bus system.