Anti-green energy lawmaker reverses decision barring climate scientist from future testimony
In Kansas, State Sen. Mike Thompson has been a vocal critic of green energy and its proponents — including Christopher Ollson, a Toronto, Canada-based environmental health expert who testified before the Kansas Senate Utilities Committee (which Thompson chairs) on February 10. Thompson wanted to strike Ollson’s testimony in favor of wind turbines from the record and ban him from future appearances before the Committee. But the 64-year-old Republican reversed that decision during a February 15 meeting, although he urged fellow Utilities Committee members to “be very cautious in how we regard his testimony in the future.”
Thompson said that he made his decision because he wants to be compliant with the Kansas Open Records Act.
“I wanted to make sure that everyone knows it is not my intention to avoid the Open Records Act, so we are not banning the testimony from Mr. Ollson, at least online,” Thompson told other Utilities Committee members. “However, due to what I do believe was a misrepresentation of his testimony, that we are going to caution the Committee if Mr. Ollson were ever to come back.”
When Ollson testified on February 10, he voiced his opposition to a bill that Thompson has proposed: Kansas Senate Bill 353 — which, according to Kansas City Star reporter Lucy Peterson, would “establish minimum setbacks for wind turbines near property lines” and “also require wind producers to halt production if noise levels exceeded 35 decibels.”
No one will accuse Thompson of being a poster child for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal proposals. An aggressive supporter of fossil fuels, Thompson has repeatedly voiced his opposition to wind energy.
Ollson told the Star, “What concerns me the most is that if the chair of the committee doesn’t agree with testimony, that he somehow feels it’s OK to make these baseless accusations against my professional conduct, I think it might make any other expert in the field think twice before they would agree to appear in front of the Committee again.”
It was Alan Claus Anderson, vice president of energy policy at the Kansas City-based law firm Polsinelli, who invited Ollson to testify at the February 10 hearing. Anderson, discussing Thompson with the Kansas Reflector, recently said, “He’s been very clear he is very, very opposed and would like to end renewable energy, and so, he brings these wolves-in-sheep-clothing bills to say, ‘Oh, these are just meant to do reasonable things,’ when quite clearly, they’re not.’”
During the February 10 hearing, Thompson and Ollson argued about the merits of wind energy — and Ollson pushed back against Thompson’s claim that wind energy is a source of excess noise pollution.
Ollson testified, “The levels we’re talking about from wind turbines, absolutely we can measure infrasound low-frequency sounds from wind turbines. I can measure it in the room right now because you have an HVAC system going on. We have infrasound, it’s in the room, if any of you drove here, unless any of you live around the block…the infrasound you experience in the car is far greater than you would have, even at a maximum, around a turbine.”
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