Politics & Government

August 18, 2014

Gov. Sam Brownback takes on federal regulations in campaign stop

Gov. Sam Brownback decried federal regulation of energy, guns, water and prairie chickens during a campaign stop in Wichita.

Gov. Sam Brownback decried federal regulation of energy, guns, water and prairie chickens during a campaign stop in Wichita on Tuesday.

The governor called a news conference at the Wichita Area Builders Association to roll out the regulatory part of what he is calling Roadmap 2.0, the platform for his re-election race against House Minority Leader Paul Davis.

The new roadmap plotted out little in the way of new roads, mostly returning to well-traveled themes of Brownback’s existing campaign and current term in office. They include:

Fighting the federal government over water regulations. Brownback said he would continue to fight proposed new rules under the Clean Water Act. The governor says his lawyers’ interpretation is that the change would dramatically expand the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority over ponds and ditches, which could threaten agriculture and oil and gas extraction. Brownback said states should regulate water quality, and disputes among states should be resolved through litigation in the federal courts. The EPA denies that the changes would expand its jurisdiction over ponds and ditches, saying the changes only clarify existing rules to prevent pollution and destruction of federally protected waters and wetlands.

Fighting prairie chicken regulations. Brownback has sued the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife over the designation of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. The listing threatens to force oil drillers to pay mitigation fees and observe time restrictions when operating in habitat areas, which could lead to a slowdown in exploration and production, said Robin Jennison, Kansas secretary of wildlife and parks.

Fighting the Affordable Care Act. Brownback has been a staunch opponent of the president’s health care act. Brownback said the system rolled out earlier this year has resulted in some policy cancellations for Kansans and that he is forecasting a substantial increase in premiums for coverage.

Supporting coal power. Brownback reiterated his longtime support for a major coal power plant expansion at Holcomb and opposition to air-quality rules that have required existing utilities to reduce emissions, which has increased electric bills.

Protecting gun rights. Brownback vowed to continue efforts to defend the state against an expected federal lawsuit over a state law seeking to exempt Kansas-made firearms from federal regulation.

Advocating for aviation. Brownback continued his criticism of President Obama for making disparaging comments about executives’ business jets. The governor said that hurt private aviation, an industry crucial to Wichita and the state.

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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