Sustainability, while an overused term, is generally accepted as a positive one. In fact, the accepted definition of the term has been around since the 1980’s: “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Pretty benign, right? Not according to the Kansas State Legislature.
The Kansas Committee on Energy and Environment recently proposed a bill [PDF] that would outlaw the use of taxpayer dollars for anything that could be construed as sustainable development. Sound insane? It gets better. Apparently, the bill was inspired by the complaints of “maybe a dozen” people who feel that stuff like solar panels and energy efficient lighting is part of a secret activist agenda that needs to be exposed.
Now just in case you think that I’m making this up or reading too much into it, here’s the actual language from the bill:
As mentioned previously, this mind-boggling law was introduced by Kansas’ Committee on Energy and Environment, headed by one Dennis Hedke.
According to Bloomberg.com, “Hedke said in a phone interview that he brought the bill to the committee on behalf of a group of “maybe a dozen” people who approached him about it. ‘The idea of sustainable development and its association with a range of activities is something that needs to be scrutinized in the public domain,’ he said. Hedke declined to comment on what sorts of activities he was referring to and wouldn’t disclose who was involved in the group that brought him the bill.”
But we’ve got our own theory about who it might be. See when not introducing completely ludicrous bills into the Kansas Legislature, Hedke works as “a contract geophysicist whose client list includes 30 regional oil and gas companies.” Two industries that have everything to lose if sustainable development continues its upward growth in the United States.
Now, we could make some unkind jokes about country folk in Kansas being scared of hippies and their solar panels, but this really isn’t a cause for jokes. This ridiculous event proves how dedicated the fossil fuel industry is to taking our resources, and our money. It proves how little attention they think we’re paying to our own government. Even worse, it proves that even though sustainable development has been show to stimulate economies, generate profit, increase energy security, and create jobs, they’ll do just about anything to stop it.
Thankfully, the bill isn’t likely to become law any time soon; Kansas’s 90-day legislative session ended without a hearing on the bill. Hedke said they may revisit it next year.