As a rule, I generally do not like give credence to nutty, right-wing conspiracy theories, but this particular issue has my bamboo knickers in a twist. It seems that Kansas, in an effort to give Dorothy a good reason to move back to Oz for good, has decided to introduce legislation that would outlaw sustainable development in the state. Bill 2366 was composed by the Committee on Energy and the Environment and seeks to outright halt progressive planning in its tracks. Why would Kansas be opposed to public transportation, energy efficiency, and a reduction in pollution? To some conservative circles, they mark Agenda 21 as a plot by the United Nations to redistribute wealth, violate rights, and trample personal freedoms.
Agenda 21 was a framework established at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janiero back in 1992. The seemingly innocuous document outlines goals for cities across the globe to ensure that future generations are able to live in communities that protect and promote human health, ensure a stable economy, and protect the planet from further damage. Tea Partiers and other opponents see these suggestions as a far-reaching government takeover that could lead to socialism, fascism, and a top-down dictation of how our cities should be constructed. Never mind the fact that green infrastructure has a lot of grassroots support from other private citizens and businesses, there are those who view Agenda 21 as an evil, big-government menace that will turn Main Street America into a dystopic nightmare.
So, why worry at all about what this section of the electorate thinks? Because they are vocal enough to give credence to legislation that could seriously affect enlightened development for an entire state. Bill 2366 was proposed by Dennis Hedke, a geophysicist who has professional ties to 30 oil and has companies in Kansas. Smacking of a blatant conflict of interest, he told Bloomberg reporter Tom Randall that he was urged to bring the bill to the legislature by a dozen or so individuals, although he failed to mention who those people were or what issues had concerned them.
Luckily the bill will not be signed into law any time soon as the Kansas 90-day legislative session ended without hearing document. Hedke may pursue the subject again next year. If so, it could set a dangerous precedent for lawmaking around the country. Now that this mindset has reached the public domain, those of us who support sustainability should be aware of this growing movement that could hinder intelligent urban planning and green technology investments. Otherwise, entrenched business interests could use the fear and misguided notions of a vocal minority to compromise with the welfare of a country already struggling a number of environmental woes.