2021 Legislative Session kicked off this week
Climate and energy advocates across the country (including CEP) find themselves excited about climate action at the federal level for the first time in a number of years. President-elect Biden’s climate plan, John Kerry’s appointment as the White House climate change envoy, and the climate and clean energy experience of cabinet members, are all signs of positive climate policy movement.
Here in Kansas, we have work to do. We still don’t have a state energy plan, although word on the street is we will see a bill from Representative Schreiber to create a task force that will be charged with creating one. We hope the makeup of the taskforce will include not only traditional energy suppliers, but folks with expertise in the environment and clean energy who can bring in important perspectives on our changing climate. We also hope transparency and public engagement will be a focus! We believe a robust energy plan should include our WEALTH priorities – water, energy, air, land, transportation and health.
We’re also excited to hear about potential legislation to move the State Energy Office from the KCC to the Kansas Department of Commerce.
We hope to elevate energy efficiency for residential and commercial customers (PAYS and C-PACE) and remove barriers for access to distributed generation. We’ll share more on these efforts as they come up.
This week, the Gas Utilities introduced SB 24. This legislation would take away the ability of local governments (think cities or counties) to support new, all-electric buildings via their building codes and other policies.
This bill is problematic for many reasons, including climate impacts, health and safety risks, affordability, and local control for communities. To meet our climate goals, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. If we switch to efficient electric appliances and equipment, powered by an increasingly renewable electric grid, we can cut U.S. climate-warming carbon emissions by half a billion tons per year, while delivering benefits like cleaner air indoors. Electrification also reduces health and safety risks from gas and its infrastructure. Bonus: according to a new report by the RMI, it’s actually cheaper to build all electric new buildings. Lastly, passing SB 24 is a local control issue. Kansas voters granted cities constitutional Home Rule in 1960 and provided cities the opportunity needed to self-govern and recognized that local decisions for our communities should be made by the people who make up that community. Why should this issue be allowed to circumvent our constitution?
Use your voice! If you want to weigh in on SB 24, the hearing will be January 21st at 1:30 pm in Senate Utilities. You can provide written comments or testify electronically or in-person. You must submit your testimony to the committee assistant as soon as possible, but not less than 24 hours prior to the hearing. If you need help or have questions on the process, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe and healthy as you practice advocacy in the Covid era!