Veterans Committee Chairman Charlie Davis and I visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, home to the F-22 Raptor Fighter.
Tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of continental Europe that started the last push to defeat Nazi Germany. Also, ten years ago today, Ronald Reagan passed away at his home in California. Retired Missouri Senator Jack Danforth, an ordained Episcopal priest, helped preside at his funeral.
Military and Veterans Affairs Task Force Meets
For two years I have had the honor of serving on the Military and Veterans Affairs Task Force of the National Conference of State Legislatures. This is a very important group that works to further the mission of national defense and provide for our active and retired military in a variety of ways. The Task Force meets periodically to discuss issues, legislation, and gain knowledge from a mutual exchange of ideas.
This year the Spring meeting was held in Anchorage, Alaska. The NCSL provided funds for travel so that our Veterans Committee Chairman Charlie Davis and I could attend. We toured the Joint Base-Elmendorf (Air Force) and Richardson (Army), known as JBER, and held meetings with other state legislators as well as staff from the Department of Defense.
Many states are facing the unpleasant prospects of military drawdown as a result of budget cuts. Senators and representatives from Hawaii, Washington, Texas, Kansas as well as other states are concerned about the effects of these cuts and quizzed the DOD members for information and strategies for coping with the cuts. In all, the meeting proved to be enlightening and useful from the contacts made with the DOD.
As I wrote earlier, I am very thankful to the Missouri General Assembly for passing HCR 13 which supports the continuing missions at Whiteman Air Force Base. A significant loss of personnel at the base would be devastating to Warrensburg and the surrounding area. I am also concerned about the strategic aspect of the cuts. Fortunately, we are positioned relatively well with a solid congressional delegation to support our continuing role in national defense. Hearing the thoughts of others at the conference boosted my morale on the issue, so I can say that I am cautiously optimistic at this point. Nothing is certain in the world of politics, but I believe with many elected officials at all levels working together we will have a reasonable outcome for District 51 and the Whiteman area.
The Future of Energy
The DOD has instructed military installations to develop environmentally friendly sources of energy as well as self-sustaining power sources. JBER has responded to this directive by developing an electricity generation plant that uses
the methane from the Anchorage landfill as fuel. This is very similar to the Waste to Energy project undertaken by State Fair Community College at the landfill just west of Sedalia. The plant looked very familiar to me, only a much larger scale because of the larger dump site.
This project makes sense as the methane will leach into the surrounding area of the landfill if not removed. The power plant at JBER generates about 70 percent of the electricity needed on the Army side and is still expanding! This power is not subject to the grid if something happened to that source. Common sense solutions such as these are useful, but common sense is the key.
On the other side, the EPA came out recently with its guidelines to reduce carbon-based emissions around the country. The reaction here in Missouri has been one of concern regarding the impact these new regulations potentially hold for our electricity providers and the rates they charge to consumers. The EPA wants to see Missouri reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from power plants a minimum of 21 percent by 2030. Because 80 percent of Missouri's power is derived from coal-fired plants, this change has the potential to drive rates up as electricity providers either move to more expensive energy sources or implement costly changes to meet the new standards.
Fortunately, this was a problem the General Assembly anticipated during the 2014 session as we passed a bill to limit the impact of the new regulations. HB 1631 specifies that the Air Conservation Commission, which is part of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, will have the authority to develop emissions standards and compliance schedules under federal law. The bill will be a helpful tool to give the state the control and flexibility it needs to prevent potentially burdensome federal mandates from driving up energy prices to unmanageable levels for consumers.
We want to move Missouri down a path to clean, safe, sustainable energy sources, but we also want to protect consumers from skyrocketing electricity bills. By giving our state the flexibility to lessen the impact of some of these federal proposals, we can continue to move in a positive direction without this downside. Ultimately, Missouri, and not the federal government, will be better able to decide our energy future.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City and Missouri. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.