Kansas environmental issues subject of forum at Village Presbyterian

How budget cuts in Topeka have affected environmental quality in Kansas will be subject of forum at Village Presbyterian.
How budget cuts in Topeka have affected environmental quality in Kansas will be subject of forum at Village Presbyterian.

Cutbacks in state funding for environmental programs and how they have affected public health is the topic of this year’s annual Community Forum
on Kansas Environmental Issues.

The event tomorrow at Village Presbyterian Church will feature four speakers on the topic “Death by a Thousand Cuts.” It starts at 6:45 for those who want to attend for free and listen to the talks.

Cindy Kemper, former director of the Johnson County environmental department, will be discussing how cutbacks in the state budget have affected air quality.

“The programs were skinny to begin with and staffing has been cut by 10- to 15 percent,” Kemper said. “It will likely only get worse with the continuing deficit issues.”

Those trims to the state budget have reduced the number of air monitoring stations in Kansas and caused delays in reviewing permits for industrial applicants.

And Kemper said the Legislature has prohibited state agencies from even discussing the challenge of climate change much less plan for it.

“Even if funding was restored, there’s little political will right now to address problems,” she said.

Other speakers are Dorothy Barnett, who will discuss the Kansas Energy Efficiency Investment Act. The legislation has the potential to reduce pollution and help utilities manage the risk of future environmental regulations.

Paul Johnson, a registered lobbyist for the Kansas Rural Center, will discuss local food, water, environment and corporate agriculture issues.

Joyce Wolf will review the Cheyenne Bottoms lawsuit and water rights at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. She also will discuss why the Legislature needs to restore funding for the State Water Plan.