A new Kansas state house bill introduced by the Committee on Energy and the Environment is seeking to outlaw sustainable development. Although some believe that green infrastructure can ensure a high standard of living for future generations, others see sustainable development as a government plot to redistribute wealth and compromise freedom. Opponents cite the United Nations’ Agenda 21 established in Rio back in 1992. While the document promotes progressive ideas ranging from cost effective-energy systems to public transport, many right wing conspiracy theorists have come to view it as a global takeover of rights and personal property.
Anxiety over sustainable development can be traced to conservative attention directed towards Agenda 21. Critics of the paper, such as the American Policy Center’s Tom DeWeese see the loose framework for enlightened urban planning as a blueprint for social injustice. He, like many others in in conservative circles, interpret Agenda 21 as a plot mandating planning policies that will restrict resource use, disrupt free market trade, and follow a socialist model of living. While this may seem like a mindset operating on the fringes of the political landscape, the Kansas bill demonstrates that the ideology has enough of a following to make its presence felt in the legislature.
As Bloomberg’s Tom Randall reports, the Chairman of the committee Dennis Hedke brought House Bil No. 2366 forth at the behest of a dozen or so constituents, although he did not disclose who those people were or “the range of activities” that they were hoping to “discuss in the public domain.” It should be noted that according to Kansas’ CJ Online, Henke spends most of his time as a contract geophysicist for over 30 local oil and gas companies. While a conflict of interest may be at work, it cannot be ignored that, as strange as it may sound, there are those who see sustainable development not as a path towards a greener, cleaner future, but a dark road leading towards a dystopian nightmare.
The bill itself does not seem likely to become the law of the land any time soon. Kansas’ 90-day legislative session closed without hearing the document but Hedke may seek to revisit it some time next year.
Lead photo by Flickr user ensign_beedrill