Current climate plans are not enough to avoid disastrous climate change, UN says


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Grace Smith | October 28, 2022

The world’s governments haven’t dedicated enough attention or promise to bypass the catastrophic climate change effects, the United Nations said in a released report on Oct. 26. This puts the world on course for a 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures by the end of the century. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that CO2 emissions need to be cut by 43 percent by 2030, but existing climate plans demonstrate a 10.6 percent increase instead.

“The downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year,” said Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. “But the science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world,” Stiell warned.

Cutting methane emissions — the second largest contributor to climate change — would be the quickest and most effective way to alter the fast pace of global warming. Methane emissions have an 80 times more significant warming effect than carbon dioxide over 20 years.

Stiell suggested an urgent call for global leaders to seal the gap between where emissions are leaning toward and where science displays levels should be, calling for nations to be focused on a few key aspects: mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and finance.

U.S. Senate Passes Groundbreaking Climate Bill


When Are US Senators Next Up for Reelection? | Snopes.com
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Josie Taylor | August 10, 2022

The U.S. Senate, along party lines, passed a sweeping energy, health care, climate and tax package Sunday afternoon, following an overnight marathon of votes that resulted in just a handful of notable changes to the legislation.

The 755-page bill was passed after Vice President Kamala Harris broke a 50-50 tie in the evenly divided Senate. It now heads to the House, where Democratic leaders have announced they will take it up on Friday. Iowa Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst voted against the bill.

The bill includes $369bn for climate action, the largest investment in the issue in US history. Some households could receive up to $7,500 in tax credits to buy an electric car, or $4,000 for a used car. Billions will also be spent in an effort to speed up the production of clean technology such as solar panels and wind turbines.

There will also be $60bn given to communities that have suffered the most from fossil fuel pollution. The authors of the bill say it will cut the country’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.

The action on climate comes as the US experiences a wave of extreme weather, including a recent heatwave as well as deadly flooding in Kentucky that left dozens dead.

Hawkeye Decarbonization Summit to discuss Iowa as an energy exporter


Via the University of Iowa.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | April 13, 2022

The University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Decarbonization Summit will examine Iowa as an energy exporter in a new era of decarbonization.

The summit will take place on April 21 and 22 as a hybrid meeting. Decarb2040, a one-year research and community building project at the university, will be a focus during the event. The summit is overall focusing on decarbonizing Iowa’s energy and agriculture sectors. Presentations will go over the potential challenges that come alongside a decarbonization goal. The event does not have a registration fee, but registering is required. Individuals interested in attending the presentations in person or online can register here. In person lectures will occur in the IMU and at the Old Capitol on Thursday and Friday respectively.

Researchers on decarbonization from Colorado, Iowa, Vermont, and Washington D.C. will present at the event. International presenters from Australia, Belgium, and Chile will also attend the event. The keynote speaker at the event will be Saul Giffith. He is an entrepreneur, researcher, and author who recently released the book Electrify: An optimist’s playbook for a clean energy future. Presentations will be given on solar power’s future in Iowa as well as how decarbonization will impact rural versus urban communities and the Midwest economy.

Farmers continue to object to carbon capture pipelines


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Eleanor Hildebrandt | April 8, 2022

More than 100 landowners gathered at the Iowa Capitol last week, speaking against three proposed carbon capture pipelines in the state.

The speakers went as far as asking legislators to add amendments to ban the use of eminent domain permanent. Environmental activists joined the group on March 29, focused on stopping the companies from taking private farmland to build sequestration pipelines. Some speakers complained about not being able to meet with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to discuss the pipelines. Chair of the Calhoun County Democratic Party Emma Schmit told Iowa Public Radio that landowners rights are uniting rural residents.

“Everybody across the political spectrum believes in the fact that a private corporation shouldn’t be able to take your property for their own benefit without giving anything back,” she said.

Carbon sequestration pipelines aim to capture carbon dioxide emissions in an industrial process and store them underground. The goal of such projects is to curb climate change. Currently, three companies have plans to put carbon capture pipelines in Iowa: Archer-Daniel-Midlands (ADM), Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures. The trio all plan to pipe carbon captured in the Midwest United States deep underground.

A Carbon Pipeline was Proposed in Iowa


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Josie Taylor | January 13, 2022

Another out-of-state company has announced a plan to build hundreds of miles of pipeline in Iowa to transport carbon dioxide from ethanol plants and pump it into the ground. 

Wolf Carbon Solutions said it has an agreement with Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM) to take carbon dioxide from its facilities in Cedar Rapids and Clinton and transport it to an existing carbon sequestration site in Decatur, Illinois. The pipeline would run about 350 miles and would have additional capacity to accommodate captured carbon from other facilities.

The Iowa Utilities Board, which oversees the permit process for hazardous liquid pipelines, has not received formal word from Wolf that they would start the process, said Don Tormey, a spokesperson for the board.

It would be the third carbon pipeline proposed in recent months that would connect to ethanol and fertilizer plants in the state. Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures filed requests to hold public informational meetings for their proposed pipelines in August and October, which is generally the first step in the permit process. 

To help limit greenhouse gas emissions, the federal government gives tax credits to companies that capture and sequester the carbon they would otherwise expel. The Navigator pipeline alone could net hundreds of millions of dollars in credits each year for the owners of ethanol and fertilizer plants connected to it.

Iowa could see pipeline construction across state in May


Via Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | January 7, 2022

Navigator CO2 Ventures plans to formally petition Iowa in May for permission to build a liquid carbon dioxide pipeline across the state.

The pipeline would cross 36 of Iowa’s 99 counties and venture into a handful of other Midwestern state. The Texas-based company’s plans will cost upwards of $3 billion and would lay 900 miles of steel pipe in Iowa, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch. Navigator will need to receive permission from the Iowa Utilities Board prior to breaking ground. Navigator’s plan looks to provide Midwest customers with carbon capture and storage.

The company is close to ending its informational public meetings series. The meetings have been held in various counties to garner support from Iowans and to explain to communities what they can expect from the pipeline. Once the meetings end, Navigator can petition the state for permission to build. The three-member Iowa Utilities Board would have to decided that the pipeline serves “a public convenience and necessity” based on Iowa law prior to giving the company permission.

Iowans at various meetings have voiced concerns, including at a recent Ames meeting where the Dispatch reported residents were concerned about eminent domain and the potential hazard of pipeline leaks. Residents of Linn County were unhappy with the proposal in early December 2021, according to Iowa Public Radio.

There are a few more informational meetings before the company can petition. Meeting information can be found on the Iowa Utilities Board website.

Over 40% of Americans Experienced Climate Related Disasters in 2021


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Josie Taylor | January 6, 2022

2021 was a year of disasters for many Americans. Wildfires, extreme heat, drought, flooding, hurricanes and more hit so many. There is little doubt that the future will see even more disasters, and the disasters will be catastrophic. 

More than 40% of Americans live in a county that was hit by climate-related extreme weather last year, according to the Washington Post. More than 80 percent experienced a heat wave. This is not surprising to scientists because the US has generated more greenhouse gases than any other nation in history. 

At least 656 people died due to these disasters, media reports and government records show. The cost of the destruction hit $104 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This number is probably higher because officials have not calculated final tolls of wildfires, drought and heat waves in the West.

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency identified fewer climate-related disasters in individual counties last year, it declared eight of these emergencies statewide, the most since 1998, affecting 135 million people overall.

For the track the US is on now, it is unlikely that 2022 will be much different. In order to see changes we will have to massively cut down on greenhouse gas and carbon emissions.

Iowa City Groups Use Grant Money to Reduce Carbon Emissions


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Josie Taylor | August 23, 2021

In July, 2021 seven projects in Iowa City were given $60,000 to split to go towards climate action. This week some groups are starting to use their money for climate projects. One group, the Iowa City Domestic Violence Intervention Program, put their money towards installing solar panels. 

Iowa City Domestic Violence Intervention Program currently has $31,000 from the city along with the Rotary Club. If they raise $36,000 they will be able to prevent the emission of 16.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Considering carbon dioxide is a main contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, this would be very helpful in reducing the risks of climate change. 

The Iowa City Bike Library also received $10,000 from the city grant. They are using their money to update doors and windows to bring in more natural light, this way they will be able to use less artificial light. The Iowa City Bike Library has the goal of being carbon free in five years. Grants like these help them accomplish their goal. 

Iowa City council approved the use of this money in the 2021 fiscal budget. Grants like these help businesses, nonprofits and schools lower their carbon emissions and reduce the risk of climate change in our community. 

Reynolds’ carbon panel omits environmental groups, activists


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Eleanor Hildebrandt | June 24, 2021

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds appointed a task force for carbon sequestration on Tuesday; the group is void of representatives and activists from environmental groups who study the removal of the greenhouse gas.

The task force will identify and examine different strategies for the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that will be beneficial for Iowa’s economy and long-term sustainability efforts. Current members include representatives from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, agricultural companies, state agencies, and biofuel interests. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig is the vice chairman of the group. The task force was created by an executive order.

In a statement, Reynolds said she hopes the task force will have policy recommendations prepared for next year’s legislative session. She said Iowa is in a strong position to take part in the growing nationwide goal for a more carbon-free economy, specifically pointing out the state’s existing supply chain.

When asked by Iowa Capital Dispatch why there were no environmental groups on the task force, Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett said any person or group is able to apply for a spot on the working group. The group is currently made up of 20 members.

Carbon-Capturing Pipelines are Being Proposed in Iowa


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Josie Taylor | June 14, 2021

A Texas based company called Navigator CO2 plans to build pipelines across Iowa that can capture carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol, fertilizer and other industrial plants. Iowa’s Bruce Rastetter’s Summit Agricultural Group has also put out plans to capture carbon emission. CEO of Navigator Matt Vining, along with president of Summit Ag Investors, Justin Kirchhoff, did an interview with the Des Moines Register.

Both companies have the same goal of stopping carbon dioxide emissions from reaching the atmosphere. This would ideally stop carbon dioxide emissions from contributing to climate change. The companies will do this by liquefying the carbon dioxide, and then injecting it into a rock formation under the ground. 

Vining told the Des Moines Register that once the carbon dioxide is injected into the rock formation, it will be there permanently. Kirchhoff said their project can cut carbon emissions from ethanol plants in half. 

Vining commented on the controversial nature of pipelines. In the past, oil and gas pipelines have been opposed by many, including Indigious American communities. Vining this is different because, “Capturing CO2 from the environment is in the public’s best interest … it’s a public need”.

Neither company has an exact layout for where the pipelines will be.