Cool The Bi-State Tensions
Todd Pittenger - December 10, 2013 7:58 am
Events outside Kansas cloud Senate race
The St. Joseph News-Press:
Two governors, two political parties, one border. It’s natural to expect conflict, right?
Perhaps, but it doesn’t mean we have to like it or approve of it.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback appeared insensitive when he didn’t consult with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon before reviving this 30-year-old big idea: tapping the Missouri River at White Cloud and building a 360-mile aqueduct to carry life-supporting water to dry western Kansas.
Gov. Nixon, in turn, responded too harshly to this suggestion by dismissing it out of hand as “ill-advised” — not just the idea, but even the notion of Kansas studying the project at a cost of $300,000 to be shared by Kansas and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This followed, by two weeks, Gov. Nixon’s big speech in Kansas City on the need for a moratorium on offering tax incentives to entice companies to move across the Missouri-Kansas state line. Kansas officials who had been working on this issue behind the scenes were caught off guard, and said so.
If this is a high-stakes version of tit-for-tat, we’re not well served. The two governors reside on different ends of the political spectrum and in states with significantly different challenges. But if relations were functioning as they should, neither of these recent dustups would have occurred.
Citizens should expect both governors to do more to keep the lines of communication open. We think they also need to appreciate their two states are forever closely linked and they should proceed as though they are close allies, not feuding neighbors.
Concerning the river, Kansas is entitled to consider all of its options when it comes to providing water to its drought-prone regions. Gov. Brownback, in fact, campaigned on water policy and already has won support for conservation measures and steps to extend the life of the important Ogallala Aquifer.
The Kansas Aqueduct Project would employ a series of lift stations and canals that would carry water past Perry Lake, through the Flint Hills and into western Kansas. It would be a multibillion-dollar project that would take years, if not decades, to accomplish.
All seven states through which the Missouri River passes or forms a border should be concerned about how this project might affect management of the river. But while there is cause to be apprehensive, a scientific study that examines the important issues should be welcomed, not discouraged.
Opinion by: The St. Joseph News-Press