Maybe Kansas City would be taking environmental issues to heart even without Chief Environmental Officer Dennis Murphey. After all, cities across the country are getting serious about going green. But other cities don't have Murphey behind the press releases to make sure that bureaucrats are paying more than lip service to eco-initiatives. Before he came to Kansas City in 2006, Murphey oversaw the destruction of chemical weapons in Oregon. When he got back to the Midwest, he jumped right on top of the most explosive issue: global warming. The city's evolving Climate Protection Plan has coordinated dozens of small steps that have started this cowtown down a real path toward sustainability. Much of that progress has come from Murphey, an amiable guy who avoids alienating key power brokers but isn't shy about taking a bit of a tone with business leaders when they're dragging their feet. He can rattle off scores of environmental ideas being pursued in a half-dozen city departments, and he's an expert on what other towns are doing across the country. Given everyone's increased sense of urgency about the environment, it's possible that City Hall would be making these strides even without Murphey at the helm. But probably not.