Kansas Bill would Ban Funding for Sustainability, but Promote Conservation

Dennis Hedke, chair of the Committee on Energy and the Environment, which is sponsoring the anti-sustainability bill. (Source; State of Kansas)

Dennis Hedke, chair of the Committee on Energy and the Environment, which is sponsoring the anti-sustainability bill. (Source; State of Kansas)

In Kansas, House Bill 2366 is coming before the Committee on Energy and Environment. The Kansas Legislature lists the Committee as the sponsor of the bill. With 19 members on the Committee, that is an unlikely scenario for an entire Committee to draft a bill. Whatever is going on here, the only person who knows for certain what is happening is the Committee’s chair Rep. Dennis Hedke. The lack of a specific sponsor might have to do with the surprising text of the bill, which bans public funds for sustainable development.

No public funds may be used, either directly or indirectly, to promote, support, mandate, require, order, incentivize, advocate, plan for, participate in or implement sustainable development.

This ban is not just on spending money for sustainable projects in Kansas, but also for public education and for any materials presented in the classroom. According to this bill, sustainability, which is wrapped closely to recycling and preserving natural resources, can’t be taught in Kansas schools if it requires instructional material.

The bill also forbids the use of state funds to comply with any federal regulations on sustainability.

There are sustainable projects that go too far, infringing on lifestyles and choice to an unnecessary degree. Yet in a world without limitless resources, there are plenty of good ideas to derive from sustainability. To blanketly dismiss it by eliminating even a token amount from the Kansas budget is shortsighted. Efforts to forbid its teaching in schools are even more narrowminded.

Apparently, the authors of this bill, whoever they are, think Kansans should just live for the moment and forget the future. They want to ban sustainability, which they define accurately as “a mode of human development in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but for generations to come.”

Is there supposed to be something inherently wrong in that? Some legislators in Kansas think so.

Bud don’t worry, this bill is not going to impugn upon anyone’s rights living in the present because nothing in the bill is meant to prohibit the public use of funds “to support, promote, advocate for, plan for, enforce, use, teach, participate in or implement the ideas, principles or practices of planning, conservation, conservationism, fiscal responsibility, free market capitalism, limited government, federalism, national and state sovereignty, individual freedom and liberty, individual responsibility or the protection of personal property rights.”

So it’s okay to spend public funds on conservation but not sustainability? These two concepts go hand in hand, although they do have differences. Conservation is to protect natural resources. Sustainability is simply preserving natural resources for human use in the future.

What are the sponsors of this bill trying to do? Promote conservation and free market capitalism with public funds, but not educate people about sustainable practices?

This bill is simply baffling. It sounds like some legislators don’t quite grasp the concept of sustainability.

HB 2366 may also be an anti-Agenda 21 bill. Agenda 21 is non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations that was endorsed by both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in the 1990s. It has become a bugaboo for some who see it as an international, socialist attempt to take over the United States.

Perhaps the authors of HB 2366 should have proposed banning from Kansas airspace the UN’s black helicopters that conspiracy-minded sensationalists keep imagining. It would have been more to the point of what they are trying to achieve than putting roadblocks in front of sustainability while promoting conservation.

Whatever the real purpose of this bill, it is left as a mysterious and poorly written piece of legislation that is sounds like a harebrained idea from some state legislator who doesn’t understand what he or she is advocating.

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