June/July 1998 Issue of the Planet Kansas
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Legislature And Governor Pave Way For Expansion Of The Hog Industry In Kansas
By Craig Volland
The Governor and legislative leadership executed their plan to kill the hog moratorium and pass a weak regulatory bill instead. As a result the industry is preparing to move into the state in force. First the bill.
Odor. HB 2950 contains no enforceable standards for odor control other than to increase the separation distances from homes from 4000 to 5000 feet, and this applies only to the largest facilities housing more than 9312 head. This setback is actually less than the guideline in use prior to July 1, 1994 and has been shown in western Kansas to be inadequate. This bill also does nothing to discourage the use of anaerobic lagoon technology which is notorious for producing odors.
Seepage. The lagoon seepage standard is tightened to 1/8 inch per day only for the large facilities. Synthetic liners will be required only in rare cases. Loopholes will exempt virtually all-new and existing facilities in western Kansas from installing monitoring wells. The Kansas State University lagoon study may determine whether certain construction techniques can prevent seepage from exceeding 1/8 or 1/4 inch per day, but it will not, anytime soon, be able to definitively resolve the debate over the actual impact of this seepage. This could have been resolved by installing monitoring wells, particularly on existing facilities which, for many years, were built to the 1/4-inch per day standard.
Wastewater Application. While more definitive rules and record keeping were set for wastewater application, no provisions were made for subsurface monitoring other than to commission Kansas State University to do more research, which would include some deep soil sampling. Thus, for all practical purposes, the corporate hog industry may enter Kansas in force before scientific answers are available to ensure protection of the citizenry and the state's environment.
Setbacks from wildlife refuges were increased to 10,000 feet for hog factories of 2500 head and greater and to 16,000 feet for 9312 head and greater. The applicable number will be 10,000 feet because Murphy and Seaboard can easily downsize their finishing facilities a bit to get under the 9312 threshold. This setback applies to the lagoons not to the spreading of wastewater. Thus, runoff may still threaten wildlife refuges. Over 90% of the ammonia escapes into the air during the disposal process. Research on the east coast indicates that 80% of this ammonia is deposited within 60 miles.
The industry is licking its chops. Seaboard Farms, Inc. has announced that it has chosen Barton County as the site for its 4 million hogs per year processing plant. They are now saying they don't expect much production in the immediate vicinity of the plant. However, in earlier meetings with citizens, they indicated they would be putting under contract some 2 million finishing hogs within 100 to 150 miles of the plant. Southwest Pork, L.L.C. plans to double the size of their Gray County operation to 38,400 head, 14 miles due east of Garden City. If approved this facility will equal two Seaboard complexes in Morton County as the largest in Kansas. Murphy Farms, Inc. has permits pending for 14,700 head in Hodgeman County and 29,400 head in Lane County. The 34,000 breeding sows at the two facilities will produce some 670,000 piglets per year for nurseries and finishing facilities in the region. The Lane County facility will generate wastes equivalent to a city of 90,000 people.
Citizen Response. Citizens are not giving up. State government's lack of response was not unexpected given the influence of Big Ag in the Capitol. Thus citizens are pursuing other strategies including lawsuits, local health regulations, documentation of declining property values and electoral politics. The hog wars are not over.
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March Appeal Exceeds Goal!!
New Faces and New Tactics Win Big
The March Appeal has nearly doubled its totals of 1997. Last year we raised nearly $16,000. This year we have exceeded $30,000, and a few checks still dribble in each week. We can thank this truly amazing turnaround on a few key factors:
However, we cannot be complacent. We have finally raised money at the level we must raise to keep our lobbying program. We are currently in partnership with Kansas Natural Resource Council to fund our efforts. This partnership is critical. Even at the current level of success, this only pays for half of the lobbying program. We must ensure we can sustain the quality of program provided by Charles Benjamin and his office. We must continue to protect our Kansas environment.
Remember Your March Appeal
Your support is vital to reaching our critical goals:
Remember, every dollar to the March Appeal stays right here in Kansas!
Send your contributions to:
Kansas Sierra Club, c/o Craig Wolfe, 9844 Georgia Ave., Kansas City, KS 66109
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by Charles Benjamin
Prior to the 1998 legislative session I was directed by the Kansas Natural Resource Council Board of Directors and the Kansas Sierra Club Executive Committee to focus most of my attention on two issues: 1) Setting aside portions of the Kansas River for recreational uses only; and 2) A moratorium on permitting of large hog operations until the problems of odor and water pollution were resolved by the industry. This report is a brief summary of what happened in the legislature on those two issues.
The Kansas River Recreation Legislation
In fall 1997 representatives of Friends of the Kaw (F.O.K.) asked the KNRC Board of Directors and the Kansas Sierra Club Ex Com to designate a portion of my time to work with F.O.K. to work on legislation to create recreation corridors on the Kansas River. I spent time in the late fall of 1997 with representatives of F.O.K. giving input to the Kansas River Recreation Study Committee as they prepared their recommendations to the Kansas Legislature.
After the Recreation Study Committee made its recommendations to the legislature I worked closely with F.O.K., the Kansas Canoeists Association, representatives of the sand and gravel dredging industry and state legislators Tom Sloan (R-Lawrence) and Laura McClure (D-Osborne) to fashion a compromise that would have set aside 65 miles of the 171 mile Kansas River for recreational purposes only, excluding sand and gravel dredging. That idea became H.B. 2925 and would have designated the portions of the Kansas River between Kansas City and Lawrence and between Topeka and Wamego as "multi-use" and those portions of the river between Lawrence and Topeka and between Wamego and Junction City as recreational. That proposal was endorsed by me on behalf of KNRC and Kansas Sierra Club as well as F.O.K., the Kansas Canoeists Association and the dredgers. In testimony before the House Environment Committee representatives from conservation districts along the river expressed concern about possible damage to their dams from increased access to the river. In order to meet those concerns, language was put into the bill referencing trespassing and other provisions of current law. The amended bill sailed through the House with overwhelming approval.
However, the bill stalled in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Senator Ed Pugh (R-Wamego), who owns property along the River, became the leader in successfully stopping the bill in Committee, claiming the bill would interfere with his others property rights. Since the Kansas River is a public river it was unclear how this argument was relevant, but it had certain emotional appeal. It was only through the efforts of Senator Sandy Praeger (who convinced Senator Corbin - the chair of the committee - to keep the bill alive) that the language of H.B. 2925 even got to the floor of the Senate. The legislative vehicle to keep it alive was a report from a "conference committee" of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Environment Committee to recommend its language as a part of deer hunting permit bill - H.B. 2868.
In the meantime, Senator Pugh was hard at work convincing his colleagues to vote against the conference committee report. The lobbyist for the dredgers was staying "neutral" publicly, but behind the scenes was undermining support for the conference committee report. Senator Praeger let it be known that she would filibuster the bill and even had me buy her a book on the Lewis and Clark expedition that she could read on the floor of the Senate. However, in the end she felt it would alienate her colleagues to carry through with her threat. In the waning hours of the legislature, on Sunday, May 3, the "river bill" officially died on a vote of 16 yeas and 24 nays. Even though Senator Praeger did not read the book I bought her on the floor of the Senate, I had members of Friends of the Kaw sign the book, and I gave it to her as a thank-you present.
Those voting yea, and deserving of your thanks, are Senators Biggs, Downey, Emert, Gooch, Hensley, Karr, Langworthy, Lee, Morris, Oleen, Petty , Praeger, Salisbury, Steffes and Steineger. The following Senators voted nay: Barone, Becker, Bleeker, Brownlee, Clark, Corbin, Donovan, Feleciano, Gilstrap, Goodwin, Hardenburger, Harrington, Huelskamp, Jones, Jordan, Kerr, Lawrence, Pugh, Ranson, Salmans, Schraad, Tyson, Umbarger, and Vidricksen.
The session started with some hope that a moratorium on further permitting of large swine operations, until the industry solved the odor problem and studies were completed of lagoon seepage and economic impacts on local communities (both pro and con), stood a better than even chance of passage. Support for a moratorium was the official position of both the KNRC and the Kansas Sierra Club and of the groups in western and central Kansas opposed to large corporate swine operations. At the beginning of the legislative session the momentum for such a moratorium was strong. However, the pork industry, and their allies in the Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Livestock Association, worked very hard to get a commitment early in the session from the Governor, and the Republican legislative leadership not to support a moratorium. In particular, Robin Jennison (R-Healy), the House Majority Leader, lead the effort to kill a moratorium and had support from the chair of the House Environment Committee - Joann Freeborn (R-Concordia), the chair of House Agriculture Committee - Joann Flower (R-Oskaloosa), the chair of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee - David Corbin (R-Towanda), the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee - Steve Morris (R-Hugoton), and from Governor Graves.
Fourteen bills were introduced at the beginning of the legislative session that in one way or another dealt with corporate hog production. Some bills dealt with surety bonds for facilities that went bankrupt, so the public would not be stuck with the cleanup. Other bills imposed various kinds of moratoriums. Others would have allowed county commissioners to limit the number of "animal units" in a given township or county. Still others would have closed the loopholes that allowed Murphy Farms, Inc., the largest hog producer in the country, to claim they were a "family farm" not subject to the corporate farming laws. Others would have closed the loophole that allows companies like Seaboard to get around the corporate farming laws by contracting their production with family farmers. Other bills would have prevented vertical integration of the corporate hog industry, allowing true family farms to compete.
Due to the efforts of Jennison and other corporate hog supporters the attention of the legislature was largely focused on a what became known as H.B. 2950 - based on model legislation from the national "Pork Producers Dialogue." The Dialogue was an effort by the industry at the national level to deflect mounting nationwide criticism of the air and water pollution caused by large-scale swine production. Invited representatives from environmental groups and local government groups pulled out of the Dialogue calling it "fundamentally flawed." The purpose of the Dialogue was to allow the pork industry to expand, continuing its practice of over-concentration of animals and the use of primitive anaerobic lagoon technology to handle hog waste, while pre-empting more stringent national or local regulations.
While H.B. 2950 provides better regulations than the current loose guidelines, largely unenforced by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the legislation does not adequately address the major environmental problems associated with this industry - namely odor and seepage of waste from earthen anaerobic lagoons into the groundwater. No one in Kansas should feel secure that this legislation will prevent the kinds of massive environmental problems associated with the rapid expansion of large hog operations in other states.
The response to the failure of the legislature and the Governor to adequately address the concerns of the citizens of Kansas regarding this industry is already being felt politically. Kansas has a county referendum option on this issue and, prior to the legislative session, voters in 20 of 21 counties rejected corporate hog production by a margin of 72%. In April four incumbent city commissioners in Great Bend, who were in favor of Seaboard Corporation building a hog processing plant, were ousted from office by candidates who put together a write-in campaign in two weeks. Turnout in that election went from a typical 9% to 40%. The "hog issue" will be important in state legislative elections, county commission elections and the gubernatorial election in central and western Kansas. I will do what I can to assist the efforts of candidates, in all of these elections, who favor stopping the impending environmental disaster represented by large-scale corporate hog factories in Kansas.
Kansas River Back on 20 Most Endangered List
"Our efforts to improve Kansas water are working and some very important people are beginning to take notice. In 1995, a group know as American Rivers, a non-profit organization devoted to river conservation cited the Kansas River as the sixth dirtiest in the nation because of herbicide levels and sand dredging. The same year I launched the Governors Water Quality Initiative. Last year, American Rivers dropped the Kaw out of their dubious "top ten" list, but still listed it among the 20 most endangered rivers in the country. The group recently released its 1997 compilation of endangered American rivers, and the Kansas River has dropped completely off the list." This quote is taken directly from Governor Graves in his "Message from the Governor: The Kaw is Cleaner" published in the Governors Water Quality Initiative Journal, Summer 1997, page 2.
On April 6, 1998 American Rivers announced that the Kansas River was one of the twenty most endangered rivers in the country. Here are direct quotes from the American Rivers press release:
Agricultural and municipal pollution threaten recreation opportunities, valuable wildlife habitat, and the drinking water of 500,000 people. Yet, city and agribusiness leaders are now seeking to weaken water quality standards.
"The Kansas River is a sink for pollution from factories, farms, and city streets," stated Scott Faber, director of floodplains programs at American Rivers. "Relaxing pollution regulations would cause further damage to a resource which serves many purposes in the region. Not only would the health of residents who drink the water be put at increased risk, the great diversity of wildlife that depend on the river would be threatened."
The leading contributors of pollution in the Kansas River are fertilizers and pesticides which wash off farm fields. Kansas farmers apply 18 million pounds of herbicides to their fields each year, most of which enter the river.
Municipal discharge and urban run-off also threaten water quality. The sewage treatment plants of more than 30 cities are currently failing to meet water quality standards. Johnson Countys Mission-Turkey Creek plant, for example, has been operating without a permit since 1991, and the permit for Topekas antiquated Oakland plant expired in 1995.
"The state of Kansas must require upgrades for old sewage treatment plants," added Faber. If it fails to do so, the federal government should revoke the states authority to regulate polluters and step in."
In addition, commercial sand and gravel mining causes erosion, destabilizes the rivers banks, and lowers the riverbed, further degrading the river system. These operations, which plan to expand upstream of Lawrence into a potential Wild and Scenic segment of the river, have degraded the lower 30 miles of the Kansas River.
Besides supplying drinking water for residents of Kansas City, Topeka and Lawrence, the Kansas River hosts 60 species of fish, provides crucial staging grounds for 110 species of birds, and serves as winter habitat for the bald eagle.
Clean Water Act Lawsuit Settled
On May 6, 1998 The Kansas Natural Resource Council and the Sierra Club announced the settlement of their lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Kansas brought under the federal Clean Water Act. The purpose of the lawsuit was to achieve compliance with the planning process of the Clean Water Act that will account for polluted runoff into Kansas rivers and streams.
Polluted runoff, or non-point source pollution, is the largest source of pollution in Kansas and has contributed to the fact that well over 90% of the states rivers and streams are out of compliance with state water quality standards. A consent decree has been signed that, for the first time in the history of Kansas, requires polluted runoff to be factored into the states environmental policy involving water.
The case was filed in November, 1995. John Simpson, an attorney in Kansas City, Missouri, represented the Kansas Natural Resource Council. Bill Craven, now in Sacramento, California, represented the Sierra Club. There are over 20 other similar cases around the country. Less than half a dozen of them have settled, and the Kansas consent decree is representative of the other settlements.
Technically, the consent decree requires Kansas to adhere to a negotiated schedule to develop what are known as TMDL's. That acronym stands for "total maximum daily loads," which the Clean Water Act defines as total pollution load that a given stream segment can handle and still meet state water quality standards. The point sources and the non-point sources of pollution are added together to see if pollution limits are met. If pollution limits are not met then the state has to figure out a way to get the pollution decreased. Kansas is more than 20 years late in complying with this provision of the federal Clean Water Act. The consent decree establishes a schedule that extends until 2006 for the state to establish TMDL's for all eleven major Kansas river basins. The first basin to be considered will be the Kansas/Lower Republican River Basin, and the TMDL is to be established by June 1999.
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Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve: Comments Needed
A few minutes of your time could have a big impact for all time.
by Steve Baru
The National Park Service (NPS) is in the planning process for the newly established Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. They are considering five proposals and there could still be others that surface. The ultimate question to be decided is, what should the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve actually preserve? Will it preserve a portion of the largest remaining unbroken tracts of tallgrass prairie left in the world or will it protect cow pastures? There is strong pressure on the National Park Service to take this property and convert it from natural tallgrass prairie to a showcase for the cattle industry. Of course Kansas has plenty of cow pastures and they arent endangered (except maybe from hog farms), but thats the logic. We are dealing with some very strong emotions, which ignore logic. Our job is to get the message out above the noise and nonsense. NPS should use logic and not emotions in its decision process for the future of this preserve.
We need you to write a letter NOW, stating that the most sensible option for the National Park Service to take on the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is to protect what it was originally designed to protect, a Tallgrass Prairie not more cow pastures. You should emphatically state that any other alternative short of this, is unacceptable, unneeded, and a waste of tax dollars. Your letter will probably be just as effective if its just a small quick note.
Here are the options we are up against. Of course, we are fighting for the Alternative E.
Alternative A: Continue existing conditions with a 35 year grazing lease, intensive early stocking and annual burning. Non-native grass would be grown in the fields near the creek. Visitation would be centered at the ranch headquarters.
Alternative B: The cultural resources would be the primary focus of preservation, protection, and interpretation. The majority of the preserve would be designated a cultural area with cattle grazing, and smaller areas designated as a natural area.
Alternative C: Visitor experiences would be the primary focus of management activities. Impacts on natural and cultural resources would be considered, and likely impacts to resources would be mitigated through appropriate design and placement measures.
Alternative D: Focus is on these two primary thrusts, the story of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem and the story of ranching in the Flint Hills. Enhancement of the diversity of the tallgrass prairie and bison would be represented as well as cattle ranching and planting of traditional row crops to supplement cattle grazing activities.
Alternative E: Primary focus would be virgin tallgrass prairie with associated creeks, intermittent streams, springs and seeps. Native ungulates (bison & elk) would be part of the prairie diversity the visitor would experience. Traditional ranching practices, with cattle, would be restricted to smaller portions of the preserve.
Please return your response form by June 30, 1998.
Send your comments to:
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
PO Box 585
Cottonwood Falls, KS 66845
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Early Success On Legal Action Against Corporate Hog Producer!
By Craig Volland
Attorneys Bob Eye and John Carter won a key procedural ruling in May in the Hodgeman Co., Families Against Corporate Takeover (FACT) vs. Murphy Farms, Inc. case. The district judge ruled that FACT has standing to sue Murphy Farms, Inc, the nation's largest hog producer who claims to be a family farm under Kansas law. Murphy decided to proceed with their 11,000 sow breeding facility despite the fact that Hodgeman County citizens had voted against corporate hogs and the Murphy proposal last April. The election result was upheld by the state supreme court in December. In cases of this type standing can be a major hurdle. Now full discovery can proceed. The hearing on the substance of the case is scheduled for December.
The Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club has made donations from our legal defense fund to FACT and to Citizens for a Better Lane County which is fighting a 22,000 head Murphy hog breeding facility. In that case citizens have requested a public hearing. If that fails an administrative hearing would be the next step. The citizens are also challenging the procedure by which Lane County commissioner approved corporate hog farming in the county.
We sincerely thank the Chapter members who have sent in contributions to our legal defense fund in the past six months. Contributions are still needed to help citizens proceed with their cases and to prepare for possible direct litigation by the Club on Kansas water quality standards. Please send checks to the Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club and mail to Craig Wolfe, Chapter Treasurer, 9844 Georgia, Kansas City, KS 66109 and note "legal fund" on your check.
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KDHE Gets Caught Cheating
Environmentalists Issue Failing Grade
By Terry Shistar
A student who is frustrated by his bottom-of-the-class ranking but unwilling to work at improving might resort to cheating. In the same way, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment finds itself frustrated by previous 50th in the nation rankings in water quality. The trouble is that under Governor Graves' policy of appeasing big agribusiness at all costs, the agency finds itself unwilling to undertake the efforts needed to actually clean up the water. What to do? The same thing our failing student does--cheat. The tragedy is that just as cheating in class defeats the purpose of educating the student, cheating on water quality assessments defeats their purpose of assisting in water cleanup.
The Clean Water Act requires states to do assessments of their water quality every two years. The results of these assessments are submitted to EPA under the unrevealing title of the "305(b) Report". At the same time, states also prepare--based on information contained in the 305(b) assessment as well as other available information--a list of impaired waterbodies. This list--the "303(d) list"--is the basis for water quality improvement efforts. The 303(d) list is a report card telling us where we need to improve. The 305(b) Report is like the story the student tells his parents and teachers to explain his performance. The Clean Water Act requires states to set limits on pollutants--from run-off as well as from point discharges--for those waterbodies listed as impaired on the 303(d) list. This is good--it's the teacher and student laying out a step-by-step plan for improvement. If the student cheats on his tests so that he won't have to work harder or report failing grades to his parents, then his education suffers. And so will our water quality suffer if KDHE continues to cheat in assessing water quality.
How has KDHE cheated? The answer can best be understood by comparing the 1998 report and list to their 1996 counterparts. The 1996 305(b) Report found that less than 3% of stream miles fully supported all assessed uses. The 1998 report found that 31% fully supported all assessed uses. Did Kansas water quality really improve tenfold over the past two years? Hardly. In fact, when you find out how hard KDHE worked at cheating, you will be amazed that despite the department's efforts, the water still achieved a failing grade. The fact that Kansas waters still score so badly under this rigged system is an indication of how bad the water is. Let's look at some specifics:
First, in 1996, the state based judgments of impairment due to toxicants on exceedances of any of the water quality criteria for toxic chemicals--acute or chronic. Criteria for acute effects are set at levels that protect aquatic life from short term exposures, and are therefore less restrictive than criteria set at levels to protect against effects of chronic or long term exposures. The Kansas Surface Water Quality Standards require that chronic criteria be met everywhere except for mixing zones, and that acute criteria be met in mixing zones (except for the zone of initial dilution). The rationale is that mobile organisms can move out of mixing zones if they don't meet an acutely toxic condition there. (This rationale is flawed because not all organisms are mobile, but we're talking law.) The 1998 report is based only on exceedances of acute effects.
The shift from consideration of acute and chronic to only acute health effects had dramatic effects for atrazine-contaminated streams. Water with more than 1 part per billion atrazine was listed as impaired in the 1996 list, but in 1998 no streams were listed as impaired by atrazine because the atrazine limit was 170 parts per billion. In spite of changing the rules, 27% of the state's stream miles do not protect aquatic life--that is, conditions are acutely toxic in 27% of stream miles!
The second way that the state cheated was in deciding not to count streams impaired by total suspended solids (TSS). Suspended solids are the soil particles that are washed into streams, mostly from agricultural fields. They interfere with aquatic life in many ways--by reducing visibility, changing the character of the bottom, covering up some organisms, and carrying toxic materials into the water, where they can release them into the water. In 1996, 78% of all streams were listed as impaired by TSS. In 1998, the cause was listed as "not applicable". This is not because TSS has been found to be less harmful or because Kansas streams have become cleaner. It is because KDHE has decided that dirt is not a pollutant.
The Kansas Surface Water Quality Standards state, "Suspended solids added to surface waters by artificial sources shall not interfere with the behavior, reproduction, physical habitat, or other factors related to the survival and propagation of aquatic or semi-aquatic life or terrestrial wildlife." For years, KDHE has implemented this narrative criterion by using a numerical measure of the concentration of solids suspended in water samples. In the 1998 report, KDHE decided not to use the previous method because, "KDHE has no scientific evidence to validate the use of this numeric criterion and it is inconsistent with the Kansas surface water quality standards." Obviously, a narrative criterion without a way to implement it becomes useless, which is exactly what KDHE wanted.
The third way that KDHE cheated was in eliminating their implementation of the ammonia criterion (and others) below wastewater treatment plants. Because ammonia is toxic to fish, but does not persist in the water long enough to be found 10 or more miles downstream where the next monitoring site might be located, KDHE has based its decisions of impairment due to ammonia on models that use the ammonia discharged by sewage plants (and reported by them to KDHE) as inputs. During meetings of the Surface Water Quality Commission, KDHE representatives announced that they would no longer count these impairments. So although 66 stream miles were listed as impaired by ammonia in 1996, only 16 were so listed in 1998.
Finally, a small fudge factor. KDHE changed its application of the fecal coliform criteria by excluding data collected when the flow was more than 50% of the two-year flood flow. Compared to some of the other changes, this had a relatively minor effect. 40% of all stream miles were impaired by fecal coliform in 1996, and 50% were so impaired in 1998. (It makes me wonder how much worse it would have been.) In addition, KDHE says the contact recreation criterion is "not applicable" to streams, even though many are designated for swimming, so they may have discounted this criterion even more.
I call this "cheating", and I think that's appropriate. KDHE makes no attempt to justify these changes in terms that are allowed by law. Once a state classifies a waterbody as impaired, the state must show why it is not impaired in order to remove it from the 303(d) List. The state tried to hide its methodology in listing by quoting the EPA concerning a change in the chronic criterion for atrazine--a change that is irrelevant since the state did not apply chronic criteria.
The real question, of course, is "Why?" The reason is that because of a lawsuit by the Sierra Club and Kansas Natural Resource Council, KDHE is actually going to have to start setting limits (known as total maximum daily loads or TMDLs) on pollutants to ensure that impaired waters come into compliance water quality standards. Since, as we have seen, the vast majority of waters of the state are impaired by agriculture, this process will be very painful to a governor who is relying on support from agribusiness to get re-elected in November. It's easier to cheat--and let the water and those who rely on it suffer the consequences.
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What You Can Do For Teaming With Wildlife Now
By DeEtte Huffman
You may recall that our Chapter endorsed Teaming With Wildlife last year. National Sierra Club has also endorsed this national funding initiative designed to address three major wildlife management needs for states in one user pay concept: to reverse alarming declines in fish and wildlife before species become endangered; to meet escalating demands for outdoor recreation opportunities; to assure an economic future for nature tourism and the outdoor industry.
TWW is proposed legislation for an excise tax of up to 5% on manufacturers' cost of items used for outdoor recreation and enjoyment. The revenue from the tax on these items, such as binoculars, backpacks, hiking boots, bird seed, etc., would be redistributed to the states as matching funds for use in habitat improvement and conservation of species not hunted and fished and not on the federal endangered species list.
We are being asked to do two things:
To get more information on TWW get in touch with Ken Brunson, Wildlife Diversity Coordinator, Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, 512 SE 25th Ave., Pratt, KS 67214-8174, Phone: 316-672-5911, e-mail: email@example.com
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THE HEALING OF AMERICA by Marianne Williamson
A book review by Diane Stewart
My experience as an environmental activist has taught me that I, as only one individual, can really make a difference. And I've learned that we can be even more effective when we band together. But, unfortunately, I've also learned that few people are willing to take the time and trouble to advocate for the Earth. While it may be easier to just pay the membership dues and read the publications, getting involved is another matter for most of you.
This wonderful book, while not about the environment per se, is really about motivating American citizens to act on their beliefs. This is the missing ingredient in our country. As Williamson states, "The problem in America is not that the majority of Americans like things the way they are. The problem is that the majority of Americans do not take part in democracy, do not even vote, do not own the power they have." Fortunately for all of us, this book is an inspirational call to activism.
Williamson discusses the reasons for the apathy in our country, what's happened to the baby boomers since the sixties, social and economic injustices, and our American obsession with making more money. She goes over the principles of the founding fathers of this country, and profiles visionary leaders such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. She analyzes corporate influence on our political system, and asserts that "the influence of money on the political process is a fast-growing cancer in America." She believes that the average citizen must learn how the political process operates or suffer the consequences. She cites an old French saying, "If you don't do politics, politics will do you." I certainly agree.
A little over a year ago I helped one of our Sierra Club members in his campaign for a City Council seat. I got a list of members in his ward and called to ask it they would be willing to put up a yard sign. I was stunned by the responses I received. Most people had no idea why it would be beneficial to have a "green" candidate running for city government, and many were not very cordial to me as I tried to explain it to them. They just didn't get it. Most people were only concerned with his political party (we live in Overland Park, the only city left in the state with partisan elections).
I would hope that our membership knows by now that traffic congestion, land use planning, neighborhood revitalization, transportation, development, zoning, greenspace, biking and hiking trails and other city-wide issues all relate to the environment. We missed an opportunity in that election because so few people really understood the issues that were at stake. Ms. Williamson points out that all our problems are interconnected, and suggests that we develop a broad-based, collective shift in consciousness.
I often wonder why so few people actively work to defend and protect the environment. Sometimes I become frustrated and depressed by the lack of response to issues that I view as important. Williamson says, "The most critical political issue in America today is the numbing and suppression of personal power within the individual American citizen. Political power ultimately derives from the personal confidence and courage to express oneself." My hope is that many of you will read this book and be inspired to find your own voice.
Willamson, Marianne. THE HEALING OF AMERICA. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997
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Southwind Conservation Update
By Don Skokan, Southwind Conservation Chair
The following current environmental issues have received, in varying degrees, attention
from members of the Southwind Group of the Sierra Club and other members of the Wichita
A Southwind Group written public comment, in connection with the above proposed plan, was submitted to Burns & McDonnell (11/20/97), and a Scoping Summary for the Environmental Impact Statement was received, in February 1998, as a response to our comment. The issues being discussed have to do with public information/education, sustainable water use, the Cheney Reservoir, the Equus Beds and the Local Well Field Expansion.
ACTION: We are in the process of responding to the Scoping Summary. Copies are available and have been passed to some Southwind members. Additional input from other members of the community is desired. Pass any written comments to Don Skokan.
2. Surface Water Quality Commission
The Preliminary Report was issued (1/1/98) and public comment continues to be received and a large Commission Docket (repository) has developed. According to Terry Shistar, Kansas Sierra Club, the Commission is "stacked in the direction of weakening the standards." Meanwhile, the EPA, Region 7, has given the State of Kansas 90 days to do more to prevent pollution in Kansas rivers and streams, or the EPA will write new pollution rules for the state.
ACTION: The Final Report will be issued the end of June. Input from members of the community is needed for a Southwind Group written public comment. Pass any written comments to Don Skokan.
3. Mega Hog Factories
HB 2950, which has passed the Kansas legislature, has not pleased many environmentally concerned Kansans. Craig Volland, Kansas Chapter Chair, has indicated that "Most new lagoons in Kansas will be installed according to the old, weak seepage standards." The Southwind Group listened to concerns from western Kansas people at our January program and, in March, helped support a rally against corporate hog farms outside the Hyatt Regency hotel in Wichita.
ACTION: We are coordinating any activities with Craig Volland, or Charles Benjamin, Sierra Club state lobbyist. We are also communicating with Mike Dealy, Manager of the Groundwater Management District No.2, because of the importance of the Equus Beds water supply to south central Kansas. Electing city, county and state officials that are sensitive to the environment is certainly one action that is available to everyone.
4. Solid Waste
The Southwind Group had developed and widely distributed a Solid Waste Management Policy which called for reducing our waste stream, into the Brooks landfill, by 50% with the remaining trash going to a local, geologically sound, Subtitle D landfill. The Sedgwick County Commission felt that the proposed Furley site was not appropriate and, despite protests from the City of Wichita, voted for transfer stations - which KDHE has given initial approval on.
ACTION: Margaret Miller, and Bill and Vicki Skaer, are Southwind members who are on the Sedgwick County Solid Waste Committee and should be able to provide updates and guidance on future actions.
5. Superfund Site (57th & North Broadway)
A local Community Advisory Group (CAG), made up of concerned citizens, began meeting in early 1997, with the EPA, KDHE and the City & County Health Department, with the intent on proceeding in a more timely fashion with the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) for this site. Subsequent to installing additional monitoring wells, a "hot spot" was discovered in the Riverview neighborhood, which is now part of the city of Wichita, with monitoring well results exceeding the Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for vinyl chloride.
ACTION: The CAG, along with other concerned citizens, will attend public meetings, availability sessions, their own regular meetings, and examine the documents in the information repository, in order to be able to respond to the various EPA documents developed in the superfund process (i.e., RI/FS and Proposed Plan). Any input from Southwind members, and the public at large, will be appreciated. Don Skokan is a member of the CAG.
6. Hazardous Waste Cleanup
In Wichita Apart from the Superfund site at 57th & North Broadway, two other major groundwater investigations are being conducted in Wichita. The Gilbert & Mosely site and the North Industrial Corridor (NICs) require our attention. The general superfund model of RI/FS and Proposed Plan type documents are being used. Any reports or diagrams that have been developed, can be examined at the information repository located at the City & County Health Department, 1900 E. 9th Street (268-8351). (You might want to check beforehand to be sure the library/conference room is available).
ACTION: Attend public hearings, availability sessions and examine documents, to become informed and share your concerns with the Southwind Group about the scope of any RI/FS or proposed cleanup. Get involved *before* the official public comment period.
7. Union Pacific Railroad
The Southwind Group submitted a public comment (10/14/97) to the Federal Surface Transportation Board, regarding the Wichita Preliminary Mitigation Plan (PMP), to the effect that we want environmental representation on the community advisory panel that has been called for by the Preliminary Recommended Tier 1 Mitigation Measures. The issue has to do with increased train traffic through Wichita, and the Southwind's primary concern is the safe transportation of hazardous materials. A separate local group, the Wichita Railroad Safety Coalition (WRSC), has been meeting at Interfaith Ministries to discuss the proposed mitigation and to develop an action plan.
ACTION: Larry Ross, Southwind Chair, has been attending the WRSC meetings and should be able to update the Southwind on the activities of that group. The Final Mitigation Plan was scheduled to be released in December 1997, so we are presently waiting for an overdue report.
8. Penta Production Waste (Vulcan Chemicals)
The Laidlaw (formerly Aptus) incinerator, in Coffeyville, closed itself to business as of 12/31/97. This is a problem for Vulcan Chemical because they had been receiving Vulcan's penta (pentachlorophenol) manufacturing waste. It is also a problem for an EPA sponsored pesticide buy-back program, which was burning pesticide waste from several states in the incinerator. Several options have been mentioned initially, and discussion will probably continue at future Vulcan CIG meetings, which are held at the Airport Hilton, Wichita.
ACTION: Ellie Skokan is a long-standing member of the Vulcan Community Involvement Group (CIG) (a.k.a. Community Advisory Panel (CAP)) and should be able to keep the community informed. The CAP meetings are open to the public and they are always looking for new people to join the CAP. They need people with corporate EHS experience, local residents and people who have interest in Vulcan issues in general.
9. Chemical Plants - Support for CAPs
The Southwind Sierra Club has member representation on three area Community Advisory Panels (CAPs). Ellie Skokan, Tom Kneil and Don Skokan (replacing Larry Daggett) serve on the Vulcan Chemical, Elf-Atochem North America and Air Products CAPs respectively. There is a need for continued support and new members on these panels. (See item above). Apart from the penta issue at Vulcan, all of the chemical companies are mandated to go public with a Risk Management Plan (RMP) by June 1999. This RMP outlines the risk presented to the Wichita community in the case of the worst possible disaster/accident that could take place at that plant (commonly called a "worst case scenario") and how that disaster will be managed.
ACTION: See Ellie, Tom or Don for more information on what CAPs do and their role in the environmental debate. Needless to say, they welcome your input on issues related to chemicals and chemical plants.
10. Northwest Expressway (Major Investment Study)
The Kansas Department of Transportation has formed a steering committee to discuss the feasibility of building a bypass around northwest Wichita. The vehicle bypass study is called a Major Investment Study (MIS) and is required by federal law. At the first public meeting held to get citizen input, many people who live northwest of Wichita complained that a big new highway will destroy their small towns and rural lifestyle, while a developer offered the "reality" that Wichita is going to grow.
ACTION: Larry Ross is a Southwind Group representative on the steering committee and should be able to keep our members updated. Larry, of course, welcomes your input on the general issue of urban sprawl and the specific issues of transportation and economic development.
For further information, copies of handouts, and meeting dates and times, contact Don Skokan or any of the Southwind members mentioned in this report.
Don Skokan Conservation Chair, Southwind Group of the Sierra Club 5825 Memphis Wichita, KS 67220 (316) 744-0033 firstname.lastname@example.orgBack to Table of Contents
by Tom Thompson, Kanza Group Chair
On May 30th the Kanza Group had a garage sale. Not just any garage sale, but one that made most of the money that will fund Kanza Group endeavors for the coming year. I know that a number of people helped with the sale but because I am writing this a couple weeks before the sale I don't know who all of you are.
I know that Mary Thompson designed flyers and organized people. John Verbanic called people to make calls and did other necessary tasks. Carol Wagner got out press information and placed ads. Many other people brought things to be sold, made phone calls, and worked the day of the sale. Still others bought things.
All of these people deserve the thanks of all the other members of the Kanza Group. Their work will make the Sierra Club that much more successful in the coming year.
In the next few months, the Kanza Group area, like the rest of the state, will be experiencing political campaigns. It is important that members pay close attention to what candidates are saying and what incumbents have voted. I predict that all candidates will say they are for a clean and healthy environment. Many won't be able to tell you what that means. If you don't ask the critical questions no one will.
On the fun side, two of our members want to develop a singles aspect to the Kanza Group. Jim Horlacher and Tye Zart were given the green light by the Excom to come up with programs that involved singles. Some of the old married members didn't quite understand the necessity for this but Tye and Jim said that was why we needed the program. If you want to be involved call me at 236-9161 and I will pass your name on to them.
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Kansas Paddle Power!!!
June 12-14 (Fri-Sun)
by T.J. Hittle
In 1993 an event called KANSAS PADDLE POWER!!! brought interested canoeists, kayakers, and rafters together from all over the Midwest. The general public was invited along with numerous organizations and recreational clubs that include paddling as a part of their event schedules. The event was a collection workshops, safety seminars, used equipment sale, BBQ, hiking trips, and river trips that occurred over a two day period in the Manhattan, KS area. I had the privilege of organizing the event over a two-year period. As the event got bigger, the schedule grew more complex, and unfortunately, the number of volunteers dropped off. Thus, its demise in 1995.
For the past three years, I have often been asked to revive the event. In response, KANSAS PADDLE POWER!!! is being resurrected for 1998 in a brand NEW format. KANSAS PADDLE POWER!!! - 1998 will be a three-day event that features river trips, exclusively. There will be no pre-registrations, no formal instruction, no seminars, and no group meals. In its simplest form, just show up and PADDLE. The focus is an awareness of streams, water quality, and river ecosystems in Kansas. You can sign up for any of the nearly 20 stream section local trips that most interest you. There will be plenty to choose from each day if we get enough section leaders to help.
This will be a great opportunity to get out, relax, share some great stories, meet some great folks, and paddle the rivers and streams of the Flint Hills. Here are the details:
WHEN: June 12, 13, 14 (Friday, Saturday, & Sunday)
MEET: 9:00 A.M. daily, Tuttle Cove Corps-of-Engineers group campsite.
WHERE: Tuttle Cove Camp area is on Tuttle Cove Rd. (County Rd. - #897), just two miles North of Manhattan, off Hwy 177. Tuttle Cove Rd. is immediately North of the Hwy 177 and Hwy 13 junction, on the West side of Tuttle Creek Reservoir Dam. Camping fees are $4.00/household, collected by USA Corps Park rangers.)
MOTELS: Motels are available in nearby Manhattan. Call the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce - (785) 776-8829 for a complete list. RENTAL BOATS: Rental boats will be available by reservation. Call (785) 776-7668 (Flint Hill Mesa canoes) ahead for local RENTAL BOAT reservations & information.
Other outdoor self guided activities for non-paddlers:
I have also revived THE GREAT SWAP MEET!!!! (Sat. 13th only: 5:00-9:30 p.m.). Dont forget to bring your items to SELL OR TRADE. Camping gear, canoes, kayaks, rafts, paddles, and anything that relates to camping, canoeing, kayaking, or rafting!!! Please price and label all items. Deliver to the REGISTRATION area at 5:00 p.m.. (Please remove all items after 9:30 p.m., Saturday) NOTE: Please bring sun screen, repellent, sun glasses, plenty of water, sack lunch, sun hat, small cooler, and any personal items in a waterproof bag or container. State Law requires a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) for every person in the boat. Please wear your PFD!! T. J. HITTLE - CHR. KANSAS PADDLE POWER - 1998 P.O. BOX 83 / MANHATTAN, KS 66502 (785) 539-7772 / Email: email@example.com
Co-Sponsored by the Kansas Canoe Association and the Friends of the Kaw. T.J. Hittle / P.O. Box 83 / Manhattan, KS. 66505-0083 voice: (785) 539-7772 fax: (785) 539-6050 Hittle Landscape Architects: http://www.kansas.net/~tjhittle/l_arch.html Kansas Paddler: http://www.kansas.net/~tjhittle
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