Energy & Environment

Support for KMUW's energy and environment coverage comes from ITC Great Plains and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Wichita — Cindy Hoedel and Scott Yeargain, who live in or near the Kansas Flint Hills, began looking into oil and gas operations near their homes as early as 2016.

The two, separately, worried about earthquakes and water quality issues that new wastewater injection wells would create.

Hoedel documented a few dozen instances where injection well permit applications didn’t follow Kansas Corporation Commission guidelines. That led to a KCC report identifying more than 1,000 similar cases.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA — Toxic blue-green algal blooms have been causing major problems on Kansas’ lakes since about 2010.

Because the pond scum can make people sick, the lakes became out of bounds for swimmers and the like.

Yet now the phenomenon is costing Kansans money. It’s infiltrating city water systems, triggering slightly more expensive treatments to keep drinking water safe.

GARDEN CITY — Nearly all American cattle spend their final months in massive feedlots, munching on feed designed to fatten them for slaughter.

But not all that goes into the beasts transforms to beef.

Their four-chamber-stomach digestive systems continually seep all forms of gasses, including the powerful greenhouse gas methane they burp up silently and constantly.

Brian Grimmett / KMUW

Members of the group Keep Reno Heavenly showed a mix of emotions after the Reno County Commission denied NextEra Energy a permit to build a wind farm in the southeastern part of the county.

On one hand, all of its efforts had paid off. Members of the group had worked for months to organize and participate in public hearings, and they finally got the result they wanted — the proposed 220 megawatt wind farm with more than 80 turbines reaching 500 feet in the air would not be built.

Early, heavy and, in some areas, nearly relentless rains have led to a late planting season across much of the central United States, especially for corn.

Flooded fields can stymie planting — even if the rain lets up for a couple of days — because the ground is too wet and soft for heavy equipment. Even where farmers were able to plant, heavy rain sometimes required another round of seeds after the first ones were swamped.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

The month of May was an all-timer in Kansas, as sites across the state recorded rain on all but two days. The deluge broke state and local rainfall records as well as setting several high water marks in Kansas’ rivers, streams, and reservoirs.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service/File photo

Wind farms have been sprouting across Kansas horizons for nearly 20 years, planting ever-more-giant turbines capable of transforming breezes into clean-energy megawatts and remaking the plains-and-prairie landscape.

The rules about how close those towering structures can stand to a road, to a home, or to a property line vary by project and from one county after the next.

Brian Grimmett

Standing near the corner of his property in southeastern Reno County, Nick Egli looked east and pointed to the proposed locations for several 500-feet-tall wind turbines.

Egli is standing on a grass airstrip he’s spent the last 10 years building. He pictures a few more homes, some hangars and, eventually, a residential community for pilots of small planes.

“If there’s turbines there, you’ve completely killed everything I’ve been working on the last 10 years,” he said.

Flickr: MG Green creative commons

Solar panel users in Kansas continue to pay higher electricity bills as they wait for utility company Evergy to keep a promise made during this year’s legislative session to remove a recently added fee.

Evergy says it will follow through on the promise by the end of May. But state regulators ultimately hold the power to decide whether or not to approve the request to change some solar customers’ rates.

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