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Examiner
  • Our Opinion: Clean energy? Forget it

  • There they go again. Missouri legislators this week voted to reverse the will of the people, as stated at the polls – and there might be more of that to come.

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  • There they go again. Missouri legislators this week voted to reverse the will of the people, as stated at the polls – and there might be more of that to come.
    In 2008, Missouri voters adopted Proposition C, which laid out modest goals for shifting to renewable energy sources. Kansas City Power & Light supported it, and the state’s other two private electric utilities stayed publicly silent or neutral on the issue. Prop C passed easily, so the law of the land is that electric utilities get 2 percent of their power from local, renewable sources such solar and wind by this year and 15 percent by 2021. That means investment and thousands of new jobs in the state as well as less pollution from dirty energy sources such as coal.
    But a legislative committee last summer nixed Public Service Commission rules to put that policy into effect, and now legislators have killed the requirement that the power be generated here or even imported. Companies can buy credits instead to get around the new rules. So ratepayers get the prospect of higher bills to pay for renewable energy but there’s no assurance of one kilowatt of solar or wind power coming into the state. That’s not what we voted for.
    Legislators might not be done thwarting the clearly stated will of the people. Three months ago, the voters adopted requirements that the state’s functionally unregulated puppy mill industry adopt some humane standards regarding questions such as veterinary care, living space, shelter from heat and cold, and access to water. Now opponents of Proposition B – including the influential Missouri Farm Bureau – are telling the legislature to gut it, and legislators clearly are listening.
    Our legislators cannot have it both ways. In any number of areas, they have chosen not to govern, leaving it to special interests – the gambling industry, animal lovers, gun enthusiasts, clean-energy advocates just to name recent examples – to use the initiative process to put policy questions directly to the voters. It’s costly and cumbersome, and it’s not terribly easy to go back to the voters to change policies when facts or public sentiment change. But that’s the way it is. Having chosen not to act in the first place, it’s outrageous for legislators to substitute their judgment for that of the voters after the fact.

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