Iowans ask for EPA hearing on ethanol in Iowa

Photo by keeva999; Flickr

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa’s governor and the state’s entire congressional delegation are asking the Obama administration to hold a hearing in Iowa to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce ethanol production in 2014.

Iowa is the nation’s leading producer of ethanol, a fuel additive primarily made from corn that produces lower carbon emissions than gasoline. The EPA in November proposed cutting production to 2012 levels, prompting outcry by political leaders from both parties who claimed such a move would devastate Iowa’s economy.

The EPA stated in its November report that the additive had become less necessary in light of fuel-efficient engines and lower fuel demand.

An Iowa State University economist says the economic impact elected officials claim is overstated.

The EPA is taking public comment for 60 days on its recommendation.

US offering to destroy Syrian chemicals at sea

Photo by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center; Flickr

AP – The Obama administration is offering to destroy some of Syria’s deadliest chemical weapons in international waters aboard a nearly 700-foot, U.S. government-owned ship.

The plan would involve destroying the weapons, likely aboard the MV Cape Ray in the Mediterranean Sea, with U.S. Navy warships patrolling nearby.

This approach would avoid diplomatic, environmental, and security problems posed by disposing of the materials on any nation’s soil

To learn more, head over to KWWL.

DNR Petitioned to Issue Hog Farm Water Permit

Photo by James Hill; Flickr

ANKENY, Iowa (AP) – An environmental advocacy group says it is delivering a petition with 5,000 names to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission insisting the state crack down on water pollution that comes from large livestock farms.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement says it will demand at Tuesday’s commission meeting that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources issue a Clean Water Act operating permit to the Maschhoff Pork farm near Keosauqua in southeast Iowa.

The farm, with nearly 7,500 pigs, spilled thousands of gallons of manure into a creek on Nov. 4, just weeks after a DNR inspection. It has had several spills in recent years.

The state hasn’t issued a water permit to a hog facility before but environmental groups are increasingly pressuring the state to create rules to do so.

Iowa Power Fund off to a slow start

Former Iowa governor Chet Culver tours the labs at Iowa State University. Photo courtesy of Governor Chet Culver, Flickr.

The Iowa Power Fund, a program for renewable energy research created by former governor Chet Culver, has only spent a fraction of the planned $100 million in the five years since its creation, according to a review by the Associated Press.

The program was originally intended to help Iowa “become the silicon prairie of the Midwest” by investing in ethanol and wind energy to reduce pollution, reduce the state’s need for foreign oil, and create new jobs. However only $23 million has been spent so far, and many of the fund’s projects are still facing difficulties.

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Iowa’s habitual violator strikes again

Photo by kthread, Flickr

There’s only one farmer that Iowa has ever declared a “habitual violator” of environmental laws: Austin “Jack” DeCoster. The Associated Press reports that one of DeCoster’s egg farms is now at the heart of a salmonella outbreak. Continue reading

Federal panel looks into nuclear power safety precautions

Missouri River encroaches on homes in Sioux City. Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture, Flickr

As the power plant just off the shores of the Missouri River continues to be surrounded by water, many Iowans are wondering just how safe they are.

Well in fact, a federal government panel has decided that American nuclear power plants all need to be better protected for catestrophic events such as flooding.

The Associated Press reports:

Calling the Japan nuclear disaster “unacceptable,” an expert task force convened by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has concluded that nuclear power plants in the U.S. need better protections for rare, catastrophic events.

The series of recommendations, included in portions of a 90-page report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, will reset the level of protection at the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl by making them better prepared for incidents that they were not initially designed to handle. Continue reading

Law to prevent EPA from regulating greenhouse gases fails in Senate

A law pushed by Republicans to strip authority from the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases linked to climate chance has failed in the U.S. Senate.

The law would have repealed a 2009 finding by federal scientists that greenhouse gas-induced climate change poses significant threats to public health. Continue reading

Study: No-Till Farming Limits Greenhouse Gases

Credit: USDA

No-till farming does more than just improve soil quality and reduce erosion. It can help fight global warming too, a Purdue University study has found.

No-till fields in the study released 57 percent less nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas 310 more potent than carbon dioxide – than chisel-tilled fields and 40 percent less gas than fields tilled with moldboard plows.

The practice can also help save farmers money because it slows the breakdown of costly fertilizers in the soil.

Read the AP report.