Public welcome to Des Moines for Environmental Lobby Day


Photo by Dev Librarian, Flickr

Iowa environmental organizations are hosting a public reception this Thursday, Feb. 3 at the State Capitol.

The event will take place on the first floor rotunda from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Vistors can view member organization exhibits and talk with legislators about Iowa’s most pressing environmental issues. Current legislative priorities will be highlighted at an 11 a.m. press conference. Talking Points and Iowa Environmental Council staff will also be available to provide lobbying guidance and to speak to groups who come to participate.

Call Lynn Laws at (515) 244-1194 ext. 210 or e-mail her at lynnlaws@iaenvironment.org for more information on Environmental Lobby Day.

On the Radio: Energy investments yield savings in Story County


This week’s radio segment highlights Story County’s money-saving shift to eco-friendly buildings (text in italics below).

But that’s not the county’s only green effort. In September 2010, it drafted a plan to encourage more local food consumption, creating a division inside its planning and zoning department to oversee it. The county also houses a large wind farmContinue reading

Report: Power plants put Iowans at risk for mercury poisoning


Photo from Environment Iowa's report: Dirty Energy's Assault on our Health - Mercury

Iowa’s power plants spewed 2,735 pounds of poisonous mercury into the air in 2009 – the 17th highest tally for power plants in the nation, according to a new report from Environment Iowa.

The report comes as the Environmental Protection Agency readies to propose new limits on mercury and other emissions from power plants across the country – one year after a ruling that coal plants, the biggest emitters of mercury, no longer need to keep tabs of how much they releaseContinue reading

Environmentalists warn of dire consequences of ‘Taxpayers First’ Provision


Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center Wetland in Linn County. Photo by G-Mans Shadow, Flickr

A little-discussed provision in Taxpayers First Act would adversely affect the environment and state revenue gained from recreation, warn state environmental advocates.

The provision of the omnibus spending bill, which passed in the House of Representatives, forbids the Department of Natural Resources to buy, rent or control additional land, except donated properties. Currently, the DNR buys land from willing sellers, who typically want the department to set aside lands from flood mitigation or recreation, according to a DNR document. Continue reading

To achieve Obama’s SOTU goal, Iowa may need to invest in solar energy


 

Photo from the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington DC. Credit: F. Delventhal, Flickr.

 

Former Hawkeye football star Tim Dwight is among those pushing to incentivize solar energy in Iowa

In last night’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama set forth an ambitious national goal: to derive 80 percent of electricity from “clean energy” sources by 2035 – a notion praised by a group of key Senators.

“Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas,” he told the joint session of Congress.

But for the U.S. to reach that goal, states will need to drastically reshape their economies, and Iowa is no exception.

Though Iowa is now the second leading producer of wind energy in the country, about 72 percent of its energy still comes from coal-fire plants that are often outmoded, according an Iowa Physicians for Responsibility report. To reach Obama’s renewable goal, we may need to look to the sun.  Continue reading

Iowans face greatest risk for radon, few test for it


A startling sight: All 99 of Iowa's counties are colored bright red on the EPA's radon zone map. The color signifies where people face the highest risk of breathing the radioactive gas. Source: EPA.

It silently seeps into buildings, colorless and odorless – a radioactive gas caused by the decay of uranium rocks in the soil.  It enters through cracks in floors, walls or foundations and it can be found in building materials or tainted well water.

January is Radon Awareness Month, and Iowans should be among the most aware. They face the highest risk of exposure, according to the EPA. Continue reading

Investigators seek suspect in eagle poaching


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As Mississippi River towns are preparing to celebrate the bald eagle, state and federal investigators are looking for someone who shot and killed one member of the federally-protected non-game species in a field north of Letts in Southeast Iowa.

“This is the first time in my (25-year) career I can remember an eagle being shot, that I personally investigated,” Tom Campbell, an Iowa Department of Natural Resources conservation officer in Muscatine and Louisa counties told the Muscatine Journal. Continue reading

On the Radio: Climate change shifts Iowa’s animal populations


As flood seasonality changes, Iowa's wood turtle population dwindles. About 77 remain in the state. Photo by Mike Jones, Flickr

Take a listen to this week’s radio segment – Climate change and Iowa’s wood turtle.

Continue reading

Rebuild Iowa Office to close its doors this summer


The Rebuild Iowa Office, which was established in 2008 to help Iowans recover from flood damage, will close for good on June 30, 2011.

Iowa House and Senate Rebuild Iowa committees already met for the last time in 2010, and are now a part of each house’s Economic Growth Committee.

The downsizing of available government support for future flood prevention across the state is causing some to worry about the areas still suffering across the state.  The Quad-City Times reported on the new approaches to recovery earlier this month.

A little well-timed rain and high water might not be all bad when it comes to convincing the Iowa Legislature to maintain its commitment to disaster preparedness and recovery.

“Memories begin to fade” after a disaster, such as the historic flooding of 2008, said Susan Judkins, a legislative lobbyist for the Rebuild Iowa Office. “I can tell you in 2010, the fact that bad weather and flooding started happening while the legislature was in session probably helped get some things passed.”

Judkins isn’t wishing for more floods or other natural disasters. Instead, she is hoping members of the 2011 General Assembly keep in mind there are presidential disaster declarations open in all 99 Iowa counties. Continue reading

Lawmakers propose plan to fight floods


The Iowa River. Credit: Jim Malewitz

Though many are looking to cut spending in the news legislative session, several Iowa legislators have proposed a $60 million-a-year plan to mitigate future flood damage, the Des Moines Register reports.

Proponents of the plan say that it will save the state money in the long run that would go towards rebuilding after future floods. Continue reading