On the Radio: Iowa ahead of new smog standards


The Des Moines skyline at dusk (Jason Mrachina / Flickr)
The Des Moines skyline at dusk (Jason Mrachina / Flickr)

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at early assessments of Iowa’s ozone emissions, which suggest that the state is one step ahead of upcoming new emission standards. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Ozone standards

Iowa is one step ahead of new national ozone emission standards.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

In November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a draft proposal to drastically reduce ozone emissions from power plants and other sources by 2025. All 99 of Iowa’s counties are set to meet the new standards, according to data collected by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee earlier this year recommended ozone levels be reduced to between 65 and 70 parts per billion, down from the current practice of 75 parts per billion.

Iowa already meets the EPA standards, with monitoring stations showing average ozone levels between 61 and 69 parts per billion. The Iowa DNR supplies data to the EPA’s Air Quality Index, which provides air quality conditions in real time.

For a link to the Air Quality Index, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_city&mapcenter=0&cityid=271
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/business/2014/11/26/epa-ozone-smog-proposal-iowa-counties/19539559/
http://www.iowadnr.gov/InsideDNR/RegulatoryAir/MonitoringAmbientAir.aspx

White House announces methane emissions plan


Flickr; Charlie Coffey.
Flickr; Charlie Coffey.

The White House has released a plan to help reduce methane emissions in agriculture, along with other industries in an effort to combat climate change.

Methane accounts for 9 percent of the domestic greenhouse gas emissions, and has increased by 11 percent since 1990, the White House said.

The plan involves capturing livestock manure by using biodigesters to generate electricity. The White House then suggests using it to avoid fuel costs or provide an additional source of revenue.

Click here for more information on the proposed plan.

On the Radio: Sierra Club complaint leads to cleaner air in Iowa


MidAmerican's Council Bluffs facility. Photo by nixter, Flickr.
MidAmerican’s Council Bluffs facility. Photo by nixter, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s segment discusses a complaint filed against MidAmerican Energy by the Sierra Club.

An environmental group’s complaint will lead to cleaner air in Iowa.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Continue reading

Iowa named top-20 toxic state


Photo by hartanto, Flickr

Iowa was named among the top “toxic 20” states in the U.S. by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility. They judged the states’ toxicity by their coal and oil power plant pollution. The nation’s leaders included Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Kentucky. While Iowa was the 20th and final state to make the list, the Quad-City Times reports that the emissions from coal and oil power plants only begin to indicate Iowa’s total air pollution:

Half of the industrial pollutants in the U.S. come from coal- and oil-fired power plants. Nationwide, 381.7 million tons of toxic air pollution comes from the electric sector, the report said.

In Iowa, the picture is different. Continue reading

Muscatine residents frustrated by pollution


Photo by patrix, Flickr

Muscatine’s Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) is undergoing a $100 million initiative to reduce emissions – but this isn’t enough for many nearby residents. In order to cut down on emissions, the GPC will create new facilities and get rid of old equipment responsible for much of the harmful pollution. While the residents endorse this change, the Muscatine Journal reports that they’re frustrated by both the amount of time it took for this project to begin, and the amount of time it will take for GPC to complete it. Current estimates anticipate three more years of work before all the changes are in place:

Several GPC neighbors voiced their opinions.

“My dad died last summer of stomach cancer,” said Wanda Mansaray, who lives on Schley Avenue. “In the end, death wins the battle. How many are going to die? How many more are going to suffer for the rest of their lives? I’m not a smoker, but I’m dying of GPC’s second- hand smoke. Some people can hardly take a breath because of that great factory next door.”

“My mother died of emphysema. My father died of emphysema. I have emphysema,” said another South End resident. “When I go outside, I’m coughing so bad within two hours I have to go back in where I have three expensive air filters.”

“We can’t even open our windows because the pollution enters the house,” said another person who lives across Baker Street from the plant. “There’s people that live around me that have cancer or lung problems. My son has asthma.” Continue reading