Government & Politics

Sam Brownback paints Paul Davis as wishy-washy on environment in Kansas governor’s race

The Brownback campaign emphasizes that Paul Davis is endorsed by the Sierra Club. Among other things, Davis opposed a coal-fired power plant in western Kansas.
The Brownback campaign emphasizes that Paul Davis is endorsed by the Sierra Club. Among other things, Davis opposed a coal-fired power plant in western Kansas. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Generally, Democrat Paul Davis has been very cautious when talking about policy in the Kansas governor’s race.

On Thursday, voters got a little sense about why.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback held a news conference further demonstrating his opposition to what he sees as overreaching federal regulations.

Brownback wants to stop a proposed federal environmental rule that critics say will vastly expand the government’s authority over isolated streams and ponds, potentially requiring new permits for farmers.

After Brownback held his news conference, Davis came out against the proposed regulation. If elected governor, Davis said, he would consider suing the federal government if it didn’t back off the rule.

“We’ll look at all of the options that are on the table in order to protect the interests of Kansas,” Davis said.

Hours later, the Brownback campaign struck back, circulating a list of votes it claims shows Davis is a “radical environmentalist.”

The Brownback campaign emphasizes that Davis is endorsed by the Sierra Club. Among other things, he opposed the coal-fired power plant in western Kansas and a symbolic legislative resolution opposing burdensome federal environmental regulations, the governor’s campaign says.

The governor’s campaign also points to a bill Davis opposed in 2006 that would have expedited judicial appeals of air pollution permits. The bill was opposed by the Sierra Club.

Brownback spokesman John Milburn called Davis a “disaster” for Kansas agriculture and the state’s rural way of life.

Davis’ announcement on Thursday, Milburn said, reflected the Democrat’s departure from a “radical environmentalist record.”

A Davis spokesman asked what the other environmental votes had to do with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed federal water rule.

“Paul has been opposed to this water rule since it was announced. There is no contradiction here,” spokesman Chris Pumpelly said.

Pumpelly then immediately turned the conversation back on Brownback. He pointed out that Brownback contradicts himself by criticizing Davis for a tax increase that funds road projects the governor touts across the state.

To reach Brad Cooper, call 816-234-7724 or send email to bcooper@kcstar.com.

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