The prognosis for the planet is dire. According to the United Nations Panel on Climate Change, we have about a decade to drastically cut our global greenhouse gasses, a task so monumental, nothing like it has ever been attempted before. Allowing temperatures to rise would take a catastrophic toll on human lives, natural systems, national security, species extinctions, agriculture and the economy. Democrats accept the science underlying climate change. They understand the threats it poses, realize that it is caused by human activity, and have taken steps to bring it under control. Republicans, despite the overwhelming science, deny climate change is a problem caused by human activity. Many deny it is real at all.
Methane is a greenhouse gas 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and is a significant contributor to climate change. The Obama administration ruled that methane leaks from oil and gas operations on federal lands must be captured. The Trump Administration disregarded climate change science and sided with the oil and gas industry when they announced plans to reverse this rule.
Vehicle Fuel Economy Standards
Democrats understand the role of vehicle emissions in climate change. In 2012, the Obama administration, in an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce oil consumption, ruled that cars made after 2012 would have an average fuel economy standard of 54 mpg by 2025. Republicans, ignoring the science of climate change, announced plans to roll the average fuel economy standard back to 34 mpg by 2021.
The Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan was intended to limit greenhouse gasses produced by coal power plants. It would cut U.S. emissions 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. President Trump has announced plans to scrap these rules and replace them with the “Affordable Clean Energy Plan”. This Plan is expected to cut emissions by approximately 1% (0.7- 1.5%) by 2030. One of the effects would be the heightened threat to public health, caused by the increase of soot and other pollutants released. The EPA acknowledges that the Plan would lead to as many as 1400 premature deaths annually.
Kansas Lawmakers Respond:
Paris Climate Agreement
Realizing the immediacy of global warming and its consequences, President Obama ratified the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016. The goal was to keep global temperatures no more than 2 C, above pre-industrial temperatures, while endeavoring to limit them to 1.5 C. With support from Republican lawmakers, the Trump Administration announced its intentions of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, drawing international condemnation. Democratic lawmakers urged him to remain. The only other countries to refuse to be included are Nicaragua and Syria.
Kansas Lawmakers Respond:
EPA Office of the Science Advisor Terminated
The Office of the EPA Science Advisor was scrapped by the Trump Administration. This was the top science advisor to the head of the EPA. It was created to ensure that the highest quality of science is integrated into health and environmental regulations. Critics claim that Trump and the EPA have been dismissive of scientific advice, instead favoring scientists representing the industries the EPA regulates.
Kansas Democratic Platform for Protecting our Natural Resources and Environment
The health of Kansans is intertwined with the quality of our water, air, and soil. Kansas Democrats believe incentives should be offered to assist farmers, industries, and municipalities as they adopt more environmentally-friendly practices. We support environmental policies and long-range planning that will enhance, rather than diminish, the natural assets we pass on to our children and grandchildren.
Water and Soil
We assign a high priority to cleaning up our rivers and streams, reducing the pollutants in the air, protecting ground water from depletion and pollutants, preserving biodiversity and wildlife habitat, and addressing climate change.
The depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer and other water sources as well as the silting of Kansas reservoirs are critical problems for the future development in Kansas. Kansas needs a long-term strategy for coming to grips with this problem of resource depletion. We support the development of the 50 year vision for water in Kansas to protect our shrinking water resource which includes educating the public on water conservation.
The fertile soils of Kansas farms must be protected and conserved. This is best accomplished by research, education, and keeping the land in the hands of family farmers.
Kansans must protect the environment while pursuing energy sources, utilize renewable energy resources when available, and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. The environmental impact must be considered when exploring for oil or natural gas.
Kansas Democrats support measures to increase energy efficiency. We support the development of economically and environmentally sustainable clean energy resources and a long-term commitment to the development of a renewable energy economy, based on the production of power from wind, water, sun and bio-fuel.
Kansas Democrats support the requirement that power companies generate a certain percentage of their energy via renewable sources. We oppose any effort to repeal this requirement.
We believe that energy efficiency and economic growth go hand in hand. We will make our economy more efficient by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, producing less waste, and using less energy.
Kansas Democrats acknowledge human activities are contributing to unprecedented changes in the climate of our planet. This climate change poses a very real danger to our state’s residents and economy. Kansas Democrats support action to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses, both through the use of alternative fuels and increased energy conservation and efficiency.