Welcome to Kansas

9 months ago | Apr 04, 2017 | By: Jay Antle, Ph.D. and CEP Board Member
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Washington D.C. is starting to sound a lot like Kansas, at least politically.  While that on one hand is disheartening for those of us who have looked to the Federal government for leadership on energy and climate issues over the past eight years, it should actually prevent us Kansans from feeling too much despair with the Trump presidency.  After all, those of us doing energy and climate work in Kansas already know the language to deploy, and to mean it when we use it.

I had the opportunity to attend the National Council for Science and the Environment’s national conference on Environmental Health in Washington this past January.  Attendees included policy makers, scientists, and funders from a number of private foundations.  As the conference went on, I noticed Federal government scientists checking their phones nervously during sessions as new rumors spread about this or that agency website vanishing or gag orders being implemented at the EPA.  All of this is tragic, unnecessary, and we don’t have time for it.  But this is the way things are, at least for now.

One of the keynote speakers was Newt Gingrich who argued that President Trump himself didn’t fully know what he was going to do on a variety of issues, including energy and climate.  So, Gingrich argued that climate and renewable energy advocates needed to use messaging that stressed innovation, efficiency, resilience, and economic growth.  As I sat in the audience (many of whom were a bit annoyed about what Gingrich had to say), I looked at the assembled group from around the country and thought, "welcome to Kansas.”

The point here is that there are always ways to find common ground that are honest and not just about messaging.  The Climate + Energy Project has been doing just that for ten years in Kansas.  By working with farmers to encourage efficiency in water and energy usage, by supporting policies that bring renewable energy jobs to the state, and now by looking at ways to help Kansans deal with the health consequences of a warming climate, CEP finds those places where ideologies falter before common sense and practical self-interest.  Kansans have always come together to find solutions to what policy wonks now call "wicked problems.”  Now the country as a whole will need to be more collaborative and less ideological.  Will progress be as fast as we might want, or the planet needs?  No.  But we in Kansas can point to a thriving wind energy sector, state statutes supporting energy efficiency, and renewed attention to water scarcity as evidence that progress is possible even against ideological headwinds.  Help us at CEP keep that progress going despite the Trump era energy policies.  
Washington D.C. is starting to sound a lot like Kansas, at least politically.  While that on one hand is disheartening for those of us who have looked to the Federal government for leadership on energy and climate issues over the past eight years, it should actually prevent us Kansans from feeling too much despair with the coming of a Trump presidency.  After all, those of us doing energy and climate work in Kansas already know the language to deploy, and to mean it when we use it.

I had the opportunity to attend the National Council for Science and the Environment’s national conference on Environmental Health in Washington this past January.  Attendees included policy makers, scientists, and funders from a number of private foundations.  As the conference went on, I noticed Federal government scientists checking their phones nervously during sessions as new rumors spread about this or that agency website vanishing or gag orders being implemented at the EPA.  All of this is tragic, unnecessary, and we don’t have time for it.  But this is the way things are, at least for now.

One of the keynote speakers was Newt Gingrich who argued that President Trump himself didn’t fully know what he was going to do on a variety of issues, including energy and climate.  So, Gingrich argued that climate and renewable energy advocates needed to use messaging that stressed innovation, efficiency, resilience, and economic growth.  As I sat in the audience (many of whom were a bit annoyed about what Gingrich had to say), I looked at the assembled group from around the country and thought, "welcome to Kansas.”

The point here is that there are always ways to find common ground that are honest and not just about messaging.  The Climate + Energy Project has been doing just that for ten years in Kansas.  By working with farmers to encourage efficiency in water and energy usage, by supporting policies that bring renewable energy jobs to the state, and now by looking at ways to help Kansans deal with the health consequences of a warming climate, CEP finds those places where ideologies falter before common sense and practical self-interest.  Kansans have always come together to find solutions to what policy wonks now call "wicked problems.”  Now the country as a whole will need to be more collaborative and less ideological.  Will progress be as fast as we might want, or the planet needs?  No.  But we in Kansas can point to a thriving wind energy sector, state statutes supporting energy efficiency, and renewed attention to water scarcity as evidence that progress is possible even against ideological headwinds.  Help us at CEP keep that progress going.