Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Environmental Fascism Alert: Speed Limit to 65 in Kansas?

Never underestimate the power of do-gooders to try to impose their "good" on the rest of society. There is probably no more zealous group of such well-intentioned folks than environmentalists.

So, it was no surprise when the Kansas City Star's Prime Buzz ran this article regarding recommendations by the "Greenhouse Gas Policy Committee", a government task force "looking for ways the state can reduce it's carbon footprint."

Among the recommendations?

- Reduce the speed limit from 70 to 65 mph.
- Increase fines for speeding, including elimination of the 10-mph grace zone.
- Undertake statewide initiative (public and private) to promote "optimal driving speeds."

That last one takes the cake -- we're now going to have a public initiative encouraging people to drive at some utopian speed? Did Sebelius call Big Brother? Apparently so -- as the Kansas Energy Council, the umbrella arm for this Greenhouse Gas Policy Committee, was created by the Governor by executive order in 2006, which is essentially a recipe for big government in the state of Kansas.

Putting aside the question of whether we should have a taxpayer funded task force of this sort anyway, it seems evident that this task force has gone from the seemingly noble goals of such things as "encouraging energy efficiency" and "ensuring a low-cost, reliable and sustainable energy supply" to now telling Kansans how to live and, in fact, how to drive -- and pretty soon, what to drive.

According to the article, the U.S. Energy Department says that driving 70 mph loses 30 cents a mile vs. 65 mph on your gas bill. Fine, I'll accept that. But shouldn't that be the decision of drivers on whether to pay that, not mandated by government? Perhaps I'm willing to pay the few bucks extra to get where I'm going a little quicker. I know some will ask, "What's the harm in encouraging efficiency?" -- but imagine the next step, using the exact same justification of saving a few cents a gallon -- telling Americans what cars they can and can't drive. Make no mistake -- some liberals want us all driving around in Ford Focuses. Perhaps they can all be a neutral color too, so as not to distract drivers.

Pardon the sarcasm, but this is environmental fascism cloaked in do-gooderism. Frankly, one could make a case that the 70 mph limit in western Kansas is too LOW, not too high -- as surrounding states like Colorado and Nebraska have it at 75 mph, a reasonable limit on rural, four-lane, well kept highways like interstates. Not to mention the fact the environmental impact of "carbon emissions" is highly debatable.

While things such as energy efficiency, conservation, recycling, and overall environmental stewardship are noble, Kansans -- and Americans overall -- should be careful about letting our laws become playlands for extremists with an agenda.