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Archive for the ‘Kanas Politics’ Category

The Problem with Addressing Induced Earthquakes

Thu ,04/02/2021

Many people believe that man’s activities are so inconsequential that they could not possibly induce earthquakes. However, there have been cases as far back as the 1960s where the only reasonable explanation was that earthquakes were being induced by disposal wells. When the U.S. Army’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal built a disposal well in 1961 to get rid of waste fluids, the seismic activity in the area increased. The well was plugged and the earthquakes stopped. A study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) determined that a “deep, hazardous waste disposal well at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was causing significant seismic events in the vicinity of Denver.”  Another case of induced seismicity occurred in Kansas in 1989 near Palco, northwest of Hays. The largest earthquake had a magnitude of 4.0 and caused some minor damage. Several injection wells, used for the disposal of wastewater from conventional vertical oil wells, were located near a deeply buried fault zone. Investigators concluded that the earthquakes were likely induced.

Recent research shows that disposal wells are causing the earthquake swarms in Kansas and Oklahoma. There were only two or three quakes a year in Kansas and Oklahoma before 2009. That was when fracking operations started in the area and each day millions of gallons of wastewater were pumped into disposal wells. By 2015, there were about 4500 Class ll disposal wells in Oklahoma and about 1600 and Kansas. Some Class II disposal wells, which are associated with oil and gas production, were injecting as much as 15,000 barrels of disposal fluids daily.

The graph below shows the number of earthquakes in the central United States from 1973 to 2019. The number of earthquakes, mostly in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas, increased dramatically as the number of disposal wells increased after 2009.  When, in 2015, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) and the KCC started putting limits on the amount of disposal fluid that could be injected into wells near earthquake epicenters, the number of earthquakes fell off appreciably. However, that decrease may not be true for the magnitude (M).

Figure 1.

Earthquake intensity is measured on the Richter scale. The Richter scale is a logarithmic scale, with an M3 .0 quake being 10 times stronger than an M2.0 quake, and it dissipates 32 times more energy. Earthquakes over M2.0 can be felt, those over about M3.5 can cause minor damage, and those over M4.0 are strong enough to do structural damage to buildings and infrastructure. An earthquake in Oklahoma near Pawnee, in 2016, was an M5.8 earthquake. It caused millions of dollars of damage in Oklahoma, an estimated $600,000 in damages 110 miles away in Wichita, and was felt as far away as Illinois.

Most disposal wells are drilled into the Arbuckle zone as it is porous enough to take up the fluid. The Arbuckle zone lies under the region at about 2700 feet.  The pressure of gravity on a column of saltwater that long exerts a pressure of over 1500 psi at the bottom. The drilling fluid, under that much pressure, has to go somewhere so it migrates outward from the injection wells.  As the fluid migrates, it causes an increase in pressure in the zone, labeled dP. When the increase in pressure, dP, reaches about 50 psi, it starts destabilizing ancient faults, causing earthquakes. The graph below shows how the dP has changed in south-central Kansas over the past several years, and its increase can be identified with new clusters of earthquakes.

Figure 2.

The pink area (dP > 50 psi) began increasing near the disposal wells in Harper and Sumner Counties and, by 2014, earthquakes were beginning to start there. The pink area reached Reno County (RN) in 2017. Since then, that area has experienced 126 earthquakes of a magnitude 2.0 or greater – and the magnitude seems to the increasing over time.  Hutchinson experienced an M4.2 quake in 2019  and an M4.6 earthquake on 01/19/2021, which was felt in 20 states. In 2018, Burrton, situated between Hutchinson and Wichita, had an M4.2 earthquake. One of Burrton’s school buildings was damaged and hasn’t been used since then.  The maps only go to 2017, but the disposal fluid has been migrating outward since then, with the pink area, dP > 50, likely reaching Wichita in 2020. That’s when earthquakes began occurring in Wichita.

The Wichita area has had very few earthquakes in the past. In the period1990-2019, there was only one quake near Wichita, about 15 miles east. However, beginning in November 2020, a cluster of earthquakes occurred with the epicenters under Northeast Wichita. There were 21 earthquakes greater than M2.5, with the largest of those an M3.9 on December 30th, which could be felt as far as 30 miles away. Minor damage occurred and Wichita citizens became concerned that there might be more and stronger quakes. Many people thought the earthquakes were caused by disposal wells in the area. The KCC and the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS) investigated and found that there were six disposal wells within a 6 mile radius and together they were only injecting a modest 9000 barrels of wastewater a day. So, the investigators concluded that there was very little link between the earthquakes and the disposal wells near Wichita.

And, the investigators were mostly right. The earthquakes were likely caused by disposal wells much further away. In 2016, the KCC limited the volume of fluid injected into disposal wells within a 6 mile radius of an earthquake’s epicenter. That 6 mile distance, establish for wells south-central Kansas, is apparently not adequate. A 2018 research study by the American Geophysical Union concluded that the earthquakes that occurred in Hutchinson were caused by an increase in fluid pressure from wells that were as much as 55 miles away. The graph of dP versus time from the KGS (Figure 2.) makes it clear that the increased pressure migrating outward from disposal wells correlates with the clusters of earthquakes.

The induced earthquakes have done millions of dollars in damage to homes, public buildings, roads, and bridges. The disposal well companies should be liable for the damages. Lawsuits to recover damages have been unsuccessful as it is not possible to link earthquake damage to any one disposal well. It has been proposed that the disposal companies carry liability insurance or voluntarily set up a fund to pay for damages. Since damages are caused by the total volume of fluid, it would be reasonable to apportion the cost among the disposal companies according to the amount of fluid they inject. Those proposals have not been well received. Many people are now buying earthquake insurance for their homes when it was not needed before. The insurance has been little help. After damages, many customers found their policies have a clause that limits payments to damage only from naturally occurring earthquakes. Even policies covering induced earthquakes have been slow to pay, claiming the damage was caused by settling or poor construction. A professional engineer can determine if the damages are caused by an earthquake, and insurance companies should be required to pay up promptly when the engineer certifies that is the case.

There have been efforts to put regulations in place to limit earthquake damage. Those have met with some success, but are clearly not adequate. Current regulations by the KCC in Kansas impose volume limits on wells within 6 miles of a known earthquake epicenter. That distance is clearly not sufficient. An effort to put limits on the volume of disposal fluid in all wells in Kansas, HB 2641, failed in the legislature after intense lobbying by the oil and gas industry. The KCC and KGS need to re-examine the research and put new guidance in place to protect private property and infrastructure and guide the legislature in protecting the citizens of Kansas.

It is clear that both Kansas and Oklahoma need to put regulations in place to limit induced earthquakes and pay for damages to infrastructure and homes. Either effective agreements, or good legislation is needed to:

1) restrict the location of disposal wells.
2) limit the amount of wastewater that can be disposed of at a site.
3) limit the pressure which can be used to inject the wastewater.
4) require that any disposal well linked to significant seismic activity be further regulated.
5) require that disposal well companies form a fund or carry liability insurance to pay for earthquake damage, and pay claims promptly.

It would be best if the disposal well industry would regulate itself by agreements. They would be happier with the outcome and it would avoid the political pressure put on the state legislatures. So far, it is the Corporation Commissions who have put what regulations there are in place. Our best hope is that they will look at the most recent research and put regulations in place which take it into account.

(C) 2021 J.C. Moore All rights reserved.

Earthquakes in Wichita?

Thu ,28/01/2021

Earthquakes in the Wichita area are very rare. However, beginning in November 2020, a cluster of earthquakes occurred with the epicenters under Northeast Wichita. There were 21 earthquakes with a magnitude above 2.5 (M2.5) on the Richter scale. The largest of those was an M3.9 on December 30 which could be felt as far as 30 miles away. Many people thought the earthquakes were caused by disposal wells in the area, but the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) and the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS) investigated and found that there were only six disposal wells within a 6 mile radius and together they were only injecting a modest 9000 barrels of wastewater a day. That may seem like a lot, but it is a relatively small quantity compared to disposal wells in Harper and Sumner Counties where regulators found dozens of wells in 2016 pumping as much as 15,000 barrels a day. So, the investigators concluded that there was no link between the earthquakes the disposal wells near Wichita. And the investigators were mostly right. The earthquakes were likely caused by disposal wells as far as 55 miles away.

There were only two or three quakes a year in Kansas and Oklahoma before 2009. That was when fracking operations began in Oklahoma and millions of gallons of wastewater were pumped into disposal wells. The graph below shows the number of earthquakes per year in the central United States. The number of earthquakes, mostly in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas, went to over 1000 a day by 2015, with one in Oklahoma in 2016 being an M5.8 earthquake. It was felt as far away as Illinois and caused an estimated $600,000 worth of damage in Wichita. When the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and the KCC put a limit on the amount of disposal fluid that could be injected into each well, the number of earthquakes fell off appreciably.

In Kansas, fracking started later, but earthquakes soon emerged as a problem as the number of disposal wells grew to more than 16,000 by 2015. Some of them were injecting as much as 15,000 barrels each day. In response to the induced earthquakes they caused, the KCC put a limit on the amount of fluid that could be injected into disposal wells within a 6 mile radius of earthquake epicenters. However, later research by the American Geophysical Union found that earthquakes could be caused by disposal wells as far as 55 miles away.

Most disposal wells inject fracking fluids into the Arbuckle zone because it is porous enough to take up the fluid. The extra fluid has to go somewhere, so it migrates outward from the injection wells, causing an increase in the fluid pressure, dP, ahead of it. The Arbuckle zone lies under the entire region, and the increase in pressure is moving North and East in the zone. When the increase in pressure, dP, reaches about 50 PSI as shown in pink, it starts destabilizing and causing slippage in ancient faults. The graph below shows how the dP has changed in south-central Kansas over the past several years, and its migraton can be identified with new clusters of earthquakes.

When the pink area (dP > 50 PSI) reached Reno County in 2017, the area began experiencing quakes. Since then, the county has experienced 126 earthquakes of a magnitude 2.0 or greater. The magnitude seems to the increasing over time.  Hutchinson experienced an M4.2 quake in 2019 and an M4.6 earthquake on 01/19/2021, which was felt in 20 states. In 2018, Burrton, situated between Hutchinson and Wichita, had an M4.2 earthquake. One of Burrton’s school buildings was damaged and hasn’t been used since then.  The map only goes to 2017, but the disposal fluid has been migrating outward since then, with the pink area, dP > 50, likely reaching Wichita in 2020. And that’s when the earthquakes began. Judging from Hutchinson’s experience, future earthquakes in the area may be stronger.

Since the earthquakes are clearly caused by the volume of fluid injected by the disposal wells, the industry should be accountable for the damage done to private and public property. In the period 1990-2012, there were only 16 earthquakes at M2.5 or greater magnitude in KS. Only one of those was greater than M4.0 and only one was near Wichita, about 15 miles East. From 2013 until today, there have been 730 earthquakes of M2.5 or greater in Kansas, 220 of them M3.0 or greater, and 9 of M4.0 or greater. The Richter scale is a logarithmic scale, so an M3 .0 quake is 10 times stronger than an M2.0 quake, and dissipates 32 times more energy. Earthquakes over M2.0 can be felt, those over about M3.5 can cause minor damage, and those over M4.0 are strong enough to do structural damage to buildings and infrastructure.

The earthquakes in Oklahoma have done millions of dollars in damages, but lawsuits to recover damages have been unsuccessful as it is not possible to link one disposal well with any given earthquake. One reasonable proposal was to have the disposal companies voluntarily create a fund which could be used to reimburse injured parties for damages. Since damages are caused by the total volume of fluid, it would be reasonable to apportion the cost among the disposal companies according to the amount of fluid they inject.

Certainly, regulations are needed to protect people’s property in Kansas. Current regulations, imposed by the KCC, only limit disposal volumes within 6 miles of earthquake epicenters. An effort to put limits on the volume of disposal fluid, KS HB 2641, failed when it died in committee. The Kansas KCC and KGS need to re-examine the research and put new guidance in place to regulate disposal wells and guide the legislature in protecting the public and private property in Kansas.

Kansas has not had exceptionally strong earthquakes yet. It has a unique opportunity to learn from what happened in Oklahoma, and take action to limit induced earthquakes and any costs to Kansas citizens. Effective agreements with the industry – or good legislation is needed to:

  1. restrict the location of disposal wells.
  2. limit the amount of wastewater that can be disposed of at a site.
  3. limit the pressure which can be used to inject the wastewater.
  4. require that any disposal well linked to significant seismic activity be further regulated.
  5. require that disposal well companies create a fund or carry liability insurance to pay for earthquake damage.

Without effective action, the earthquakes are likely to grow worse. If the disposal wells connot be regulated, then at least the disposal well companies should compensate people and taxpayers for the damage.

© 2021 – J.C. Moore All rights reserved.

What is the Kansas Chamber of Commerce Hiding?

Tue ,27/10/2020

The answer is “the whole truth”. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce (KCC) is not like our local Chambers of Commerce. They trade on the Chamber’s good name, but their PAC functions as a lobbyist group for large corporations and those already wealthy. They not only lobby to influence state policies, but they work to remove Legislators who represent the best interests of all Kansans. If legislators do not vote for the interests of corporations and the wealthy, then the KCC tries to keep them from being reelected by using misleading ads and postcards that distort the truth. Alan Cobb, CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, recently explained how his organization decides who to endorse in political campaigns. He made the claim that their campaign efforts are 100% fact-based. That is not the whole truth, and in some cases it is an outright lie. Besides endorsements, the KCC sends out postcards that demonize the incumbent legislators they want to defeat. One of their most damaging postcards claims the targeted legislator voted to “retroactively raise our state taxes by $1.2 billion”. The card implies that, if reelected, they would vote to raise your taxes. That is wrong, but it is only part of the story.

That $1.2 billion tax increase, which passed in 2017, was deemed necessary by more than 2/3 of the Kansas Senate and 2/3 of the Kansas House. It was passed to correct earlier tax cuts which had devastated the state’s finances. The state would have gone broke unless it passed. Most of the Republican Leadership and many staunch Republicans voted for the bill. However the KCC is not targeting ALL the legislators who voted for the tax increase. They are selectively targeting the independent-minded incumbents who do not obediently go along with whatever the Chamber wants. They are also claiming that some of the targeted legislators voted for the 2017 tax increase – even though they were not in the Legislature in 2017. How is that possible?

Two of the Core Values listed by the KCC are to: > Be passionate about the economic growth of Kansas and its people. > Be ethical in all that the Chamber advocates for and does.

The KCC’s leaders have mastered the craft of appearing unbiased and truthful when they are not. And, they are not as passionate about the economic prosperity of all the people – as they are for that of the wealthy. Don’t be fooled! Whenever you see a campaign hit piece from them, ask yourself what the real story must be. And then consider voting for the person they are attacking. Kansas needs independent-minded legislators who are not influenced by special interest groups.

Though this is about Kansas Politics, the Chamber of Commerce in your state, and the National Chamber of Commerce, are likely functioning as lobbyists. Yor state and our nation need independent-minded legislators who will not be influenced by special interest groups.

Credit: Thanks to Don Hineman, past Republican Majority Leader, for some of the ideas and wording for the article.

Think Tanks: Why Kansas Has Bad Laws

Tue ,13/10/2020

Think tanks are a body of experts assembled  to provide ideas and advice on specific political or economic problems. The think tanks in the illustration have much in common. They are ideologically driven, funded by dark money, and they wish to reduce taxes and regulations on wealthy individuals and corporations. Combined, they spend over $1 billion a year to influence legislation and public policies.

One of their creations was the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wish lists to benefit their bottom line. At ALEC meetings, corporate lobbyists and state Representatives* meet to approve “model” bills written by corporate lawyers. The model bills usually  have great sounding titles and may address a real problem, but they always grant something on the think tanks’ wish list.

The model bills are not useful unless they are passed into state laws. To do that, it is necessary to elect legislators who will favor corporate interests over those of the average citizen. In Kansas, Americans for Prosperity and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce have taken on that task. If legislators do not vote for bills in the interest of corporations and the wealthy, then these organizations try to make sure they are not reelected. They do this by dirty campaigning, with misleading ads, and postcards that distort the truth. They misquote targeted legislators, assigned them to positions they do not hold, photoshop unflattering pictures of them, and accused them of things they have never done. You may have received some of the postcards or seen some of the ads.

It has been ruled that telling political lies is protected speech, and there is little the attacked candidate can do about it. However, you can. VOTE for the candidate who will put your interests above those of the special interest groups.

*KS ALEC members: There are 47  ALEC members in the Kansas Legislature and some travel to ALEC meetings at state expense.They are listed below: 

KS House of Representatives

  • Rep. Tory Marie Arnberger (R-112), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting [1], registered member
  • Rep. John Barker (R-70), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]State Chair,[2]Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[3], and attended 2015 ALEC Annual Meeting with taxpayers covering registration fee[4]
  • Rep. Emil Bergquist (R-91), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Jesse Burris (R-82), registered member
  • Rep. Michael Capps (R-85), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Blake Carpenter (R-81)registered member
  • Rep. Will Carpenter (R-75), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Chris Croft (R-8), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. J.R. Claeys (R-69)[5][6]
  • Rep. Susan Concannon (R-107), Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[7]
  • Rep. Leo Delperdang (R-94), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]registered member
  • Rep. Willie Dove (R-38), Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[8][6]
  • Rep. Renee Erickson (R-87), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1],[9][10]
  • Rep. Charlotte Esau (R-14), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Randy Garber (R-62)[11]
  • Rep. Dan Hawkins (R-100), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1],[12] Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[13]Attended 2015 ALEC Annual Meeting with taxpayers covering registration fee[4]
  • Rep. Ron Highland (R-51), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]Highland’s staffer Mary Sabatini attended ALEC’s 2017 Annual Meeting
  • Rep. Kyle Hoffman (R-116), paid ALEC membership February 2012[14] Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[15]
  • Rep. Nick Hoheisel (R-97), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Steve Huebert (R-90)[16]Education Task Force[17]
  • Rep. Susan Humphries (R-99), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]registered member
  • Rep. Megan Lynn (R-49), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Stephen Owens (R-74), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1][9] [18]
  • Rep. John Resman (R-121), registered member
  • Rep. Ronald Ryckman Sr. (R-78), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1], attended 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting[19]. Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[20]
  • Rep. Alicia Straub (R-113), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting [1],
  • Rep. Joe Seiwert (R-101), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]Communications and Technology Task Force[21]attended 2015 ALEC Annual Meeting with taxpayers covering registration fee[4]
  • Rep. William (Bill) Sutton (R-43), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting [1]registered member
  • Rep. Paul Waggoner (R-104), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting [1]
  • Rep. Troy Waymaster (R-109), Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[22]
  • Rep. Barbara Wasinger (R-11), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting [1],
  • Rep. Jene Vickrey (R-06), registered member

KS Senate

Kansas Legislature lets down public on regulations

Mon ,23/04/2018

“I can understand why they want to be free of regulations and scrutiny, but I cannot understand why we should let them.” That is a famous quote from Drew Edmondson, the former Atty. Gen. of Oklahoma who sued Tyson for polluting the scenic rivers of eastern Oklahoma. Tyson responded by helping to elect an attorney general and a governor who were less concerned about regulations and pollution. Tyson now wants to expand their business into Kansas, and the Kansas Legislators seems amenable to “letting them”.

 

The Kansas Legislature recently passed HB 405, which changes the animal conversion rate ( i.e., the number of chickens whose manure weight equals that from one cow) from 0.008, the previous value, to 0.003. That small change has big consequences. The result is that now a chicken farm may house 330,000 chickens, and it may be placed within 1/4 of a mile of neighboring houses and within 100 feet of neighboring property lines.

 

Some Legislators were unconcerned about the effect on property rights. Representative John Whitmer, who voted for the bill, justified his vote by saying, “local councils and county governments will still have to change current zoning and planning maps.” That may not be the case. The September KC Business Journal suggested that some Tonganoxie residents think Tyson “may have reason to believe they can declare their operation an agricultural rather than an industrial use to avoid rezoning.”

Also, 51 counties have no zoning laws. SB 405 needed an amendment for home rule, where county residents could have the right to file petitions against industrial-agricultural chicken barns and have a county-wide vote. That amendment failed. Apparently, our Legislators are for local rule and property rights when they ask for our vote, but not when they pass legislation.

This was published in the Kansas Times Sentinel on April 5, 2018.

 

(C) 2018 – JC Moore

 

 

KS HB 2641: A Step To Limit Induced Seismic Activity

Tue ,13/02/2018

The proposed Kansas House Bill 2641 will limit the amount of  fracking disposal fluids that can be injected at a given site. It is a start, but Kansas needs to learn from Oklahoma’s experience and be proactive in limiting induced earthquakes from disposal wells.

Rationale:  Historically, Oklahoma has had very few earthquakes. The graph below shows that Oklahoma had an average of about two earthquakes per year up until about 2008, when horizontal drilling and fracking began to be used to recover gas and oil. Along with the increase in fracking, came the need for disposal wells to get rid of the waste water from the fracking operations. And along with the wastewater disposal wells, came an increase in earthquakes.

For some reason, it took Oklahoma a long time to link the two and take effective action, even though the link has been known for decades. When the U.S. Army’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal built a disposal well in 1961 to get rid of waste fluids, seismic activity in the area increased. The well was plugged and the earthquakes stopped. A study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) determined that the “deep, hazardous waste disposal well at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was causing significant seismic events in the vicinity of Denver, Colorado.”

Our experience:  In November of 2011, an earthquake measuring 5.6 rattled Oklahoma and was felt as far away as Illinois. We were living in Terlton, Oklahoma at the time and felt several earthquakes, including that one. Small cracks appeared in our sheet rock and in the foundation of our house. When we sold our house in Terlton to move back to Kansas, the mortgage company insisted the damage be inspected by a structural engineer. Structural engineers were in great demand at the time to inspect earthquake damage and it caused a long delay. Our house passed the inspection but we had the added delays and expense of hiring the structural engineer. Other people have not been so lucky.

Damage: A search on Google for “newspaper articles on earthquake damage in Oklahoma”, gave 2,270,000 hits and there are thousands of pictures showing the earthquake damage in Oklahoma, such as these:

Some of the damage has extended as far north as Wichita, as shown by these pictures:

Fracking related earthquakes have caused millions of dollars of property damage in Oklahoma, and many Oklahoma residents are now purchasing earthquake insurance, when it was never needed before. Many Kansas residents are also wondering if they need to undergo the additional expense of earthquake insurance. The damage costs to public utilities, buildings, roads, and bridges are born by taxpayers. Although there have been several lawsuits in Oklahoma against disposal well companies, very little money has been recovered to pay for induced earthquake damages.

Further action:  Kansas has a unique opportunity to learn from what happened in Oklahoma, and take action to limit induced earthquakes and the cost to Kansas citizens. Effective legislation is needed to:

1) restrict the location of disposal wells.
2) limit the amount of wastewater that can be disposed of at a site.
3) limit the pressure which can be used to inject the wastewater.
4) require that any disposal well linked to significant seismic activity be further regulated.
5) require that disposal well companies carry liability insurance and pay earthquake damage claims promptly.

Kansas House Bill 2641 is certainly a step in the right direction. It addresses number 2) above and asks that every county in Kansas be under the same regulations by the KCC to keep volume at 8,000 barrels per day, which is considered a level that minimizes earthquakes. That is a start, but more legislation is needed.

Note! It wasn’t a start after all. KS HB 2641 died in committee.

(c) 2018  – J.C. Moore

President Trump’s Tax Plan: Why Rational Republicans Should Bail

Fri ,10/11/2017

President Trump’s new tax plan looks a lot like Governor Brownback’s tax plan for Kansas, which had been disastrous for the state’s economy. Rational Republicans should realize that if an experiment fails, and fails miserably, there is no point in repeating it. That is particularly true when the economy of the entire country is at stake. Both the economic theory and Governor Brownback’s experiment with the Kansas economy show that Trump’s tax plan is doomed to fail our country. The tax bills now winding their way through Congress will lead to economic stagnation and an increased  in the national debt of $1.5 trillion, both things which are repugnant to rational Republicans.

The Theory is based on Laffer’s curve which is displayed at the right. 

The Laffer curve looks like a normal distribution curve. In theory, if the nation is on the high side of the curve with taxes around 80%, then the curve predicts that cutting taxes will cause a move to the left along the curve, increasing tax revenue. That is likely to improve economic growth.  If the nation is on the low side of the curve with taxes around 40%, then cutting taxes will also lead to the left along the curve,  decreasing tax revenue, leading to a stagnating economy, and certainly a greater public debt.

The United States is now on the low side  of the curve with the high marginal tax rate around 40% – so cutting taxes will not lead to increased revenue or spur economic growth. Laffer should know that, but he has abandoned reason and professional ethics and now just supports tax cuts without reference to his own curve. Kansas paid Laffer $75,000 in consultation fees. His advice, when the Kansas economy was tanking, the public debt was mounting, and job growth was decreasing – was to stay the course. Kansas Republicans finally realized that the experiment had failed. They increased the tax rate, and overrode Governor Brownback’s veto of the tax increase. The governor is now leaving the state before his term is up.

The failure in practice is described by Duane Goossen, who was the Kansas budget director for 12 years prior to Brownback’s experiment:

  • “Just like the Brownback tax cuts, the Trump plan makes dramatic changes to tax policy by consolidating income tax rates and reworking deductions. Most notably, the Trump plan offers an enormous tax break to individuals who receive “business pass through income.” In Kansas this feature has become known derogatorily as the “LLC loophole”, allowing business income to be sheltered from income tax while people who earn a paycheck must pay tax.
  • Given that the same economists who advised Brownback now advise Trump, it’s unsurprising that his administration uses similar arguments to sell its plan: the tax cuts will grow the economy and create millions of jobs; the tax cuts will pay for themselves; everyone will benefit. Brownback said all that, too.”

At the right is a graph showing job growth in Kansas during Brownback’s years. It is lower than the United States job growth and much lower than in California, which has a high tax rate.

  •  Mr. Goossen goes on, “But after five years of the Brownback experiment in Kansas, we know the real result. Kansas has an anemic economy and one of the lowest rates of job growth in the nation. A dramatic drop in revenue broke the state budget, wiped out reserves, significantly boosted state debt, and put public education at risk. And that part about everyone benefiting — well, it turns out that the bulk of the benefits went to the wealthiest Kansans while the tax bill to low-income Kansans went up.
  • The idea that tax cuts will ‘pay for themselves’ or that tax cuts for the wealthy will ‘trickle down’ to the middle class should be added to the list of discredited ideas that sound good but don’t work. The sell job was seductive, but Kansans have the raw experience to grasp that the experiment carried out on us was a failure.
  • Do you know how hard Kansas legislators must labor now to fix the financial disaster? Are you catching on that general fund revenue has fallen $1 billion below expenses? Can you see how all political energy goes into crisis management rather than building our future? Is that what you want for the entire country?”

There you have it.

The Eisenhower Memorial is now being built and the Kansas politicians are using it as a chance to praise Eisenhower.  Eisenhower was a great General and President because he realized that it required requisite resources to get the job done. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 90%. Eisenhower used the money to pay our war debts, rebuild Europe, educate returning GIs, and build the national highway system which ensured economic growth for decades to come. We no longer need a 90% tax rate, but our tax rate is now too low, and cutting it further will deprive the country of the resources it needs.

The the current Republican tax plan is taking shape. The big winners will be corporations and those already wealthy. Though billed as a tax cut for the middle class, the biggest losers will be the middle-class taxpayers and United States economy. Under the proposed plan we will see:

  • “Up to half-a-trillion dollars cut from Medicare and Medicaid
  • Substantial increase in the national debt with no way to pay it off
  • Elimination of state and local tax deductions – designed to hit people who live in “blue” states the hardest
  • Repeal of an itemized deduction for medical expenses – hitting people who rack up large medical bills because of the inadequacies of our health insurance system
  • Repeal of the deduction for interest on student loans
  • Repeal of the deduction for teachers purchasing classroom supplies
  • Slashed incentives for wind energy and electric vehicles, while maintaining most of the permanent oil incentives and extending nuclear energy tax breaks”

Our current Republican tax plan will add over a trillion dollars to the national debt and will not provide the resources needed to take care of the needs of our country and build for the future.. The tax rate we now have is already too low as the national debt is increasing. Cutting taxes further will surely lead to economic stagnation and an increased national debt, both things which are repugnant to Republicans.

(c) 2017 J.C. Moore

 

ALEC: The Largest Tax Hike in Kansas History?

Wed ,02/08/2017

“The Largest Tax Hike in Kansas History: Now What?” That was a title of the talk given by Jonathan Williams, from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), when he spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club on July 28.

When the title of the talk is misleading, then what?

In 2012, Kansas Gov. Brownback tried Laffer’s theory by cutting the income tax rates and exempting 330,000 businesses from paying taxes on pass-through income, called the LLC loophole. Because of the decline in tax income, Kansas cut school funding, deferred payments to the states pension fund, and borrowed heavily from the highway fund. To fill the budget holes, the legislature in 2015 increased sales taxes and cut state income tax deductions. The state’s major newspapers labeled that tax increase as a largest in state history.

 

After Gov. Brownback’s experiment with Arthur Laffer’s trickle-down theory left the state’s finances in shambles, the 2017 Legislature restored the taxes to their 2012 level and overrode Gov. Brownback’s veto of the budget. Mr. Williams claimed that was the largest tax increase in Kansas history. Is restoring taxes to a previous level actually a tax increase? When someone in the audience pointed out to him that Kansas’ major newspapers labeled the 2015 sales tax increase as a largest in state history, he disparagingly commented, “First of all, I don’t put a lot of stock in the state’s newspapers.”  He should.

 

The failure of Gov. Brownback’s tax experiment has been of great concern to ALEC, who represents the interests of Corporation and the wealthy. Laffer’s trickle-down theory has been one of ALEC’s main justifications for cutting state taxes in ways that benefit corporations and the wealthy. ALEC had hoped to persuade more states, and even the federal government, to  try Laffer’s tax cuts. Did he not realize that Kansas just tried cutting taxes, with disastrous effects?

 

According to Mr. Duane Goossen, a previous Kansas state treasurer, “ After five years of the Brownback experiment in Kansas, we know the real result. Kansas has an anemic economy and one of the lowest rates of job growth in the nation. A dramatic drop in revenue broke the state budget, wiped out reserves, significantly boosted state debt, and put public education at risk. And that part about everyone benefiting — well, it turns out that the bulk of the benefits went to the wealthiest Kansans while the tax bill to low-income Kansans went up.”

 

Mr. Williams apparently wanted to convince us that states with low taxes experience revenue growth, job growth, and a growing economy. To that end, Mr. Williams referred to Laffer’s research which claimed  that the nine states that have no income tax had the highest rates of job creation. But most of the growth was in Texas and in a carefully chosen time period when job growth was strong because of oil revenues and population growth.  Besides carefully picking his data, Laffer also ignored other economic indicators – and didn’t do a comparison with high tax states. If Laffer were correct, the nine States  with the highest income taxes should have failing economies. However, that is not the case, as shown below:

 

The nine states with high income taxes had higher economic growth , a much smaller decline in household income, and almost exactly the same unemployment rate. Laffer’s research was biased and would never stand up to peer review, yet many states have used it as a justification for income tax cuts for the wealthy.

 

When Gov. Brownback’s experiment was failing, he paid Arthur Laffer $75,000 in consultation fees to help him find what went wrong. Mr. Laffer’s advice was to just keep on with the experiment. Kansas did, and the budget deficit just got worse. It was also Mr. Williams’ opinion that we had not tried the tax cut experiment long enough.  But did we need to? Laffer convinced Reagan to cut taxes, and much of our current national debt can be traced back to then, as in the graph below.

 

While the link between tax cuts, economic growth, and revenue growth is tenuous, there is certainly a link between tax cuts and public debt. Kansas proved that.

 

President Trump’s Tax Plan: a Disaster for the Economy

Sun ,21/05/2017

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Trumps new tax plan looks a lot like Gov. Brownback’s tax plan for Kansas, which had been disastrous for the state’s economy.  It is based on Laffer’s curve which is displayed at the right.

The Laffer curve looks like a normal distribution curve. If the nation is on the high side of the curve with taxes around 80%, then the curve predicts that cutting taxes will cause a move to the left along the curve to increased tax revenue. That is likely to improve economic growth.  If the nation is on the low side of the curve with taxes around 40%, then cutting them will lead to the left along the curve, toward decreasing tax revenue. That  likely leads to a stagnating economy, and certainly greater public debt.

We are now on the low side – so cutting taxes will not lead to increased revenue or spur economic growth. Laffer should know that, but he has abandoned reason and professional ethics and now just supports tax cuts without reference to his own curve. Kansas paid Laffer $75,000 in consultation fees. Here is how it has worked out in Kansas as described by Duane Goossen, who was the Kansas budget director for 12 years prior to Brownback’s experiment:

  • “Just like the Brownback tax cuts, the Trump plan makes dramatic changes to tax policy by consolidating income tax rates and reworking deductions. Most notably, the Trump plan offers an enormous tax break to individuals who receive “business pass through income.” In Kansas this feature has become known derogatorily as the “LLC loophole”, allowing business income to be sheltered from income tax while people who earn a paycheck must pay tax.
  • Given that the same economists who advised Brownback now advise Trump, it’s unsurprising that his administration uses similar arguments to sell its plan: the tax cuts will grow the economy and create millions of jobs; the tax cuts will pay for themselves; everyone will benefit. Brownback said all that, too.
  •  But after five years of the Brownback experiment in Kansas, we know the real result. Kansas has an anemic economy and one of the lowest rates of job growth in the nation. A dramatic drop in revenue broke the state budget, wiped out reserves, significantly boosted state debt, and put public education at risk. And that part about everyone benefiting — well, it turns out that the bulk of the benefits went to the wealthiest Kansans while the tax bill to low-income Kansans went up.
  • The idea that tax cuts will “pay for themselves” or that tax cuts for the wealthy will “trickle down” to the middle class should be added to the list of discredited ideas that sound good but don’t work. The sell job was seductive, but Kansans have the raw experience to grasp that the experiment carried out on us was a failure.
  • Do you know how hard Kansas legislators must labor now to fix the financial disaster? Are you catching on that general fund revenue has fallen $1 billion below expenses? Can you see how all political energy goes into crisis management rather than building our future? Is that what you want for the entire country?”

From : http://www.kansas.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article151800857.html

Note added on 11/05/2017: The Eisenhower Memorial is now being built and the Kansas state politicians are using it as a chance to praise Eisenhower for his great leadership. However, they should have learned the lessons from Eisenhower’s leadership. Eisenhower was a great General and President because he realized that it required requisite resources to get the job done. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 90%. Eisenhower used the money to pay our war debts, rebuild Europe, educate returning GIs, and build the national highway system which ensured economic growth for decades to come.

Our current Republican tax plan will add trillions to the national debt and will not provide the resources needed to take care of the needs of our country and build for the future. It is being sold as a tax cut for the middle class, when most of the benefits go to those already wealthy We certainly do not need a 90% tax rate, but the tax rate we now have is already too low, and cutting taxes further will lead to economic stagnation and an increased national debt, both things which are repugnant to Republicans.

Note added on 11/09/2017:The Republican tax plan is taking shape. The big winners will be corporations and those already wealthy. Though billed as a tax cut for the middle class, the five biggest losers will be:
1. Middle class taxpayers. They receive a small rate cut but will lose many of the deductions they rely on.
2. Teachers. They will no longer be allowed to deduct school supplies paid for from their own pocket.
3. College students. The amount of deductible student debt interest has been cut from $2500 to $202 and graduate students will now be taxed on research and teaching assistantships.
4. Mortgage holders. The home mortgage interest deduction will be cut about in half and there is now a limit on how much taxpayers can deduct for state and local property taxes.
5. Charities. A higher standard deduction reduces the number of people who will itemize and claim charitable deductions.
Source:http://www.care2.com/causes/5-big-losers-in-the-gop-tax-plan.html

 

(c) 2017 J.C. Moore

Alternate Facts Make Fake News

Sat ,06/05/2017
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Kansas now has its own fake news source, The Sentinel . Not only does its alternate news misinform the public, but it provides cover for politicians who use it to justify their positions. This letter describing The Sentinel was published in the Wichita Eagle on May 5, 2017.

Alternate facts

The Wichita Pachyderm Club recently hosted a talk titled “Fake News – Hidden News: Holding Government and the Media Accountable.” The presentation was given by Dave Trabert, president of the Kansas Policy Institute, and Danedri Herbert, editor of The Sentinel, a new online news service spearheaded by KPI.

According to Herbert, the role of The Sentinel is to report facts that mainstream media misses or won’t tell you. For instance, she said that factors other than the state’s failure to expand Medicaid were mainly responsible for hospital closings in Kansas. The hospitals, the state’s editorial boards, and the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas have said that Medicaid expansion wasn’t the only factor but it was the major contributor in closings. The Sentinel article does not report that more than $1.8 billion in federal funding to date has been lost io Kansas by not expanding Medicaid and, more importantly, more than 150,000 working Kansans haven’t been able to qualify for Medicaid.

Journalism’s ethics require that publications seek the truth, the whole truth, and publish it; avoid bias for ideological or financial reasons; and avoid sensationalizing headlines and news to attract readership. When asked if the Sentinel would follow those ethical guidelines, the answer from the editor was not a resounding yes but an equivocation of how The Sentinel intends to report what the mainstream media misses – essentially the alternate facts.

J.C. Moore, Kechi

For those unfamiliar with Kansas politics, the Kansas Policy Institute makes up facts to support Gov. Brownback’s positions, and then Gov. Brownback and his supporters quote the KPI’s synthesized facts to justify their position. It is no wonder that Kansas is doing well for its wealthiest but not doing well for the rest of its citizens.

(c) 2017  J.C. Moore