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Energy & Environment2024-06-16T17:22:40-05:00

Energy & Environment

About this Collection

Energy & Environment contains the interviews of individuals who were involved with development and implementation of state energy and environmental policy from the 1970s through the early decades of the 2000s. The interviews elicit insights about the policy making process, the assignment of priorities, and the give-and-take involved in reaching final policy decisions. Of special interest are instances in which Kansas developed singular solutions and means for implementing them.

Rod Bremby

Interview of Rod Bremby, December 22, 2023

Interviewed by Rex Buchanan
As Secretary of Health and Environment for Kansas, Rod Bremby became the first U.S. public official to deny a coal-fired power plant operating permit due to climate change. In this interview he reflects on that decision made while navigating uncharted policy terrain and on lessons learned during his 30-year career in public service at the local and state levels. Bremby describes missed opportunities in considering the power plant operating permit application while saying clearly that, even in retrospect, it was the right decision. Bremby also explains how integration of health and environmental policy makes sense at the Show Morestate level. Notably, Bremby paints a picture of leadership that recognizes and relies upon the expertise and experience of public servants who serve under appointed officials. Show Less

Interview of John Farmer, December 28, 2023

Interviewed by Rex Buchanan
In this late 2023 interview, John O. Farmer III recalled his long career in the oil business with his family-owned company in Russell, Kansas. Farmer describes the evolution of the oil business over decades as technology changed and improved the possibilities for small- to medium-sized companies in the oil industry. He observes that federal policies and market price fluctuations have more to do with the success or failure of the business than state policies. However, he notes, the interplay of state tax policies can make or break companies that depend on low-production oil wells.
Jim Haines

Interview of Jim Haines, November 2, 2023

Interviewed by Rex Buchanan and Mike Lennen
In this interview, Jim Haines describes his long career in the electric utility industry in Kansas during a tumultuous time. He talks about changes in the energy marketplace and in regulations regarding fuel types, safety, and the environment. He also identifies changes that enabled utilities to achieve economies of scale through mergers and acquisitions. Haines talks about the difficult years during which Wolf Creek, Kansas' only nuclear power plant, was under construction, including the public resistance to the plant and the push-back at many levels as construction costs escalated. In this discussion, Haines places the construction Show Moreand initial operation of Wolf Creek in the specific context of Kansas as well as the general context of the U.S. nuclear power industry of the 1980s. Show Less
Nancy Jackson

Interview of Nancy Jackson, November 9, 2023

Interviewed by Rex Buchanan
Nancy Jackson, founder and director of the Climate + Energy Project (CEP) from 2007 to 2010, recalls being challenged by the founder of the Land Institute on her approach to finding workable solutions to climate change. Jackson held that alternatives should be found to meet the needs of western Kansans for energy, good jobs, and a sustainable economy. Based on that challenge she started the CEP through the generosity of many experts in Kansas and across the country. Those initial years of the CEP were significant, and the project's impact was unexpected. In this Show Moreinterview Jackson discusses that impact and the importance of meeting people where they are in order to find solutions to difficult public policy issues. Show Less
Wes Jackson interview March 5, 2024

Interview of Wes Jackson, March 5, 2024

Interviewed by Rex Buchanan
In this reflective interview, Wes Jackson recalls the influences on his thinking and his work in the field of environmental science and research. His thinking was embodied in the Land Institute which he co-founded in the mid-1970s after leaving academia. That perspective is firmly based on the connections between science, sociology, political science, religion, and literature that bring them all into one rather than separate silos. That all-encompassing view, using the prairie as a model, informs his thinking about sustainability, broadly writ, that is multi-fascited and based on an appreciation of "outghtness" -- doing things the Show Moreway they ought to be done. Show Less

Interview of Roger McCoy, January 24, 2024

Interviewed by Rex Buchanan
Roger McCoy. founder of McCoy Petroleum Corporation with headquarters in Wichita, Ks. , recalls growing up in the oil industry from the late 1950s. Among his observations about the industry, are the dynamics of relationships between independent oil companies, like his and the "majors" like Mobile Oil and Gulf that were active in Kansas. McCoy also observes that environment-related regulation of the industry in Kansas is "justified" and that federal laws impact the industry more than state laws. In his observations, laws that impact pricing and leasing, such as the Kansas Natural Gas Price Protection Act, and Show Morethe Deep Horizons law have greater impact on the industry than most of the environmental requirements. Show Less

Interview of David Pierce, October 2, 2023

Interviewed by Rex Buchanan and Mike Lennen
Retired Professor David Pierce recalls how he became interested in environmental policy and in oil and gas law. After starting his career, this native Kansan returned to the state where it was easy to do business in the oil and gas industry. In this interview, Pierce identified several factors that contribute to the positive business atmosphere, including land ownership patterns, the location of Kansas' oil and gas resources, and a general attitude that regulation is a means by which reasonable resource extraction is facilitated. He identifies two areas where solutions need to be identified: one old issue, in Show Morethe eastern part of the state where unplugged wells continue to be a problem; and the other a newer issue of increased seismic activity associated with new drilling techniques. Pierce also reviews several of the key federal and state laws and court decisions that have shaped the nexus of energy and environmental policy in the oil and gas industry. Show Less

Interview of Earl Watkins, December 19, 2023

Interviewed by Rex Buchanan and Mike Lennen
Earl Watkins recalls his years of work with Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, a generation and transmission (G&T) cooperative headquartered in Hays, KS. Watkins describes navigating between requirements to provide power to member-owners and requirements of lenders, regulators, and other policymakers. He paints a picture of the unique position of a G&T cooperative in an industry dominated by large investor-owned utilities serving primarily densely populated areas. He also reflects how the co-op business model serves well a sparsely populated portion of Kansas where self-reliance is an important element of the Show Moreregional culture. Show Less
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