The Hutchinson News, Dec. 3
Judging by the explosion of horizontal oil and gas drilling in southern Kansas, our state doesn't have a problem with business-friendliness. Moreover, claims that oil and gas drilling in the U.S. is restrictive are misleading, to say the least.
More than 500 people attended a daylong conference in Hutchinson on Tuesday, including Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp of this district. Clearly, the oil and gas industry is expanding rapidly thanks to new drilling technology and Kansas' Mississippian Lime Play oil and gas formation.
Year to date, the state has received nearly 7,000 "intent to drill" notices, up from 4,600 for all of last year.
Producers use a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing - breaking up the rock formations underground with a pressurized, chemically treated sand-and-water mixture - to tap into pockets of oil and gas that would be difficult to extract using conventional vertical drilling.
While exciting for the potential to mine considerably more oil and gas domestically, the technology is controversial. The jury still is out on whether the process is safe for the environment, namely groundwater. It is water-intensive, and groundwater resources are an issue especially in the midst of a serious two-year drought here. Hydraulic fracturing even has raised concerns about the potential to create seismic instability - in other words, earthquakes.
Kansas doesn't seem too worried about these concerns.
"Of all the places we've got operations, not many are as industry-friendly as Kansas," said David Todd, vice president of production for Shell Exploration, which has more than 600,000 acres leased in nine counties in Kansas.
Todd also told the Hutchinson conference that drilling in Kansas costs about a third of what it does in the Bakken formation in North Dakota, another hot bed for horizontal oil and gas drilling.
State leaders would be wise to worry less about the business-friendliness of Kansas, which clearly isn't a problem for oil and gas producers, and exercise a little more scrutiny on the methods being used, to ensure the safety of groundwater and the security of all the state's natural resources.
The Hays Daily News, Dec. 2
When Kris Kobach was campaigning for Kansas Secretary of State two years ago, his top priority was combatting voter fraud. Despite the lack of statistical evidence to support his position, Kansans voted for him in overwhelming fashion. Armed with the lopsided victory, Kobach went about "fixing" the problem.
The problem, as has been well-reported, was that 75 cases of voter fraud had been reported between 1998 and 2008. Zero convictions were obtained, but Kobach believed that was because the cases were not pursued vigorously enough. He also believed the 75 were just the tip of the iceberg.
The state's top elections official likened the Sunflower State to Georgia, as both have significant meatpacking operations and as such both have sizable populations of aliens. And, since Georgia had "identified 2,148 individuals who had attempted to register to vote and who were likely aliens," Kansas likely had the same problem.
Kobach has been fixated on illegal immigrants most of his career. In a letter written to this newspaper in 2010, Kobach noted: "Every time an alien casts a vote in an election, he cancels out the legitimate vote of a U.S. citizen. How many cases is enough to demand action? I'd say that even one alien voting is too many."
As more than a couple of area readers affirmed via their own letters, Kobach was on the right path. State lawmakers felt the same way, and approved the secretary of state's stringent voter ID law. This year's elections were the first for Kansans to show official picture identification at the polls before being allowed to vote.
With results from the general election certified this past week, it strikes us as a good time to assess the effects -- for better or worse.
Zero reports of voter fraud were documented, although Kobach said it might be a few more weeks before problems such as individuals voting in two states would surface. The zero number does not surprise us, as the 75 cases reported during that 10-year period amounts to 0.0009 percent of some 8 million votes cast.
There were 838 voters forced to cast provisional ballots in the Nov. 6 election because they did not have proper photo ID. Of those, Kobach said 306 returned later with their IDs and their ballots were counted. So that means 532 registered Kansas voters were ignored, a number Kobach is just fine with.
"I think the photo ID requirements are going very smoothly, in fact smother than I expected," Kobach said.
For an official supposedly concerned with not disenfranchising even one citizen of Kansas, we're stunned Kobach doesn't mind that 532 Kansas citizens didn't have their votes counted.
Not that they would have made a difference this year. Most contests statewide were lopsided affairs.
That shouldn't be the point. Because of Kobach's irrational approach to his constitutional duties, 532 Kansans were denied their most fundamental right as citizens in order to prevent zero aliens from casting an illegal ballot.
Secretary Kobach's paranoia is not resulting in more legitimate elections. Instead, he's making a mockery of the office. Voter fraud is not taking place at the polls, it's taking place in Topeka.
The Wichita Eagle, Nov. 28
Overhaul immigration system
U.S. lawmakers need to seize the opportunity to reform our nation's dysfunctional immigration system. Meanwhile, Kansas lawmakers need to resist efforts by Secretary of State Kris Kobach to push our state in the wrong direction on immigration.