On The Radio – Bakken pipeline looms after Keystone XL


North Dakota's Bakken oil field. (A.G. McQuillian/Flickr)
Pump jacks pull oil from the ground in North Dakota’s Bakken oil field. (A.G. McQuillan/Flickr)
November 23, 2015

This week’s On The Radio segment looks at the pending Bakken oil pipeline project which would stretch from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to oil refineries in southern Illinois. If approved, the project would run through 18 Iowa counties. 

Transcript: Bakken pipeline looms after Keystone XL

President Obama’s historic decision to strike down the Keystone XL pipeline could be undermined by another proposed pipeline running through Iowa.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

A proposed pipeline starting in North Dakota’s Bakken crude oil fields and running through 18 Iowa counties is getting closer to state approval, with Governor Terry Branstad signaling his approval for the use of eminent domain for pipeline projects in November. Activists and landowners have been at odds with Texas-based Dakota Access, the company proposing the pipeline, for months as they try to establish eminent domain for the pipeline on private land. Most of the pipe would be underground, causing major concerns for soil and water quality as topsoil is removed and compacted during installation.

Unlike Keystone XL, the Bakken pipeline doesn’t need executive approval from President Obama because it doesn’t cross an international border. Instead, the pipeline would need approval from the Iowa Utilities Board, which began public hearings on November 12 with a decision coming in December or January. A Des Moines Register poll found 74 percent of Iowans oppose the use of eminent domain for pipelines.

For more information about the Bakken pipeline, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

http://www.energytransfer.com/documents/DAPL_IUB_InformationalMeetingPresentation-FINAL11-18-14.pdf

Event focuses on 25 years of climate change


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Nick Fetty | October 12, 2015

A handful of Iowa professors, policy makers, and even a former Hawkeye football player will discuss the past 25 years of climate change during an event on Tuesday.

The event is in collaboration with the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research’s (CGRER) 25th anniversary and will feature presentations from CGRER co-founders Greg Carmichael and Jerry Schnoor, U.S congressman Dave Loebsack, Iowa state senator Joe Bolkcom, and former Iowa congressman David Osterberg, as well as former Hawkeye turned solar energy entrepreneur Tim Dwight. The program is divided into three 25-minute sections focusing on different aspects of climate change: science and the public interest, the effect of climate change in Iowa, and the politics of climate change.

The event is sponsored by WorldCanvass, a collaboration by UI International Programs, UI Video Services, and FilmScene. The event goes from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at FilmScene, 118 East College Street in Iowa City, and is open to the public. An hour-long social hour will take place prior to its 5 p.m. start time.

For a full schedule and for more details, click here.

MidAmerican Energy parent to invest $15 billion in renewables


(Don Graham / Flickr)
(Don Graham / Flickr)
KC McGinnis | July 28, 2015

The parent company for MidAmerican Energy has pledged to invest $15 billion in renewable energy construction and operation, in addition to another $15 billion already invested through 2014.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which acquired MidAmerican in 2000, recently joined twelve other behemoth U.S. companies including Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Walmart in the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge, a partnership that aims to help the Obama administration reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 26-28% by 2025. The pledged investments would help Berkshire Hathaway expand its wind portfolio to 57% of its total retail energy load by 2017.

The company would also expand its investments in solar energy and, perhaps most importantly for Iowans, make infrastructure improvements that would help better integrate renewables into the existing power grid. Elsewhere in the country, Berkshire Hathaway plans to retire 75% of its energy produced from coal in Nevada by 75%.

Several of the companies that signed the pledge Monday have a significant Iowa presence, including Cargill and Google. Google boasts a 35% renewable energy rate for all of its operations, but hopes to reach 100% renewables. Cargill claims 16% energy efficiency gains since 2005, and aims to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from beef production.

On the Radio: Iowans look to energy policy when choosing presidential candidates


(Daniel Morrison / Flickr)
(Daniel Morrison / Flickr)

July 20, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at a recent poll that shows Iowans consider energy policies when choosing presidential candidates. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Iowa Poll on Energy Policy

Iowa voters consider energy production to be a major factor when selecting candidates for the upcoming presidential election.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

An April poll by the Consumer Energy Alliance found that 82 percent of registered Iowa voters said that they consider the energy policies of presidential hopefuls to be a major factor when selecting a candidate. The poll also found that 52 percent of Iowans support offshore drilling for oil in U.S. waters near Alaska, while 32 percent opposed it. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management finds that there are approximately 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Alaska outer continental shelf.

Proponents of offshore drilling say that it will create jobs and lead to energy independence, while opponents cite environmental concerns with the drilling as well as with the drilling of fossil fuels.

For more information about the poll, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

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

Eastern Iowa gets its first Tesla station


A Tesla electric car being charged (Windell Oskay / Flickr)
A Tesla electric car being charged (Windell Oskay / Flickr)
KC McGinnis | July 14, 2015

Two Tesla cars got their first charge in eastern Iowa last week.

The fully electric cars were part of a ribbon cutting ceremony at a new Tesla charging station at Bass Family Farms along Highway 30 in Mt. Vernon. Tesla owners can use the charging station for free, which draws power from one of the farm’s buildings.

Bass Family Farms, a chemical-free farm, is now part of Tesla’s Destination Charging Program, which partners with businesses like hotels and restaurants to provide destinations for Tesla owners to charge. It’s part of a growing effort to increase electric car traffic in places with charging stations few and far between. A Tesla Model S can go 265 miles on a single charge, and charging can take several hours depending on the power source. Tesla’s growing Supercharger infrastructure boasts half charge times of just 30 minutes.

While road trips through Iowa can be difficult with only a few charging stations spread along the state’s highways, at-home charging is becoming an increasingly viable option. Tesla has partnered with solar energy provider SolarCity to make home solar panel installation more affordable, meaning Tesla drivers could have a zero emission commute.

Iowa considers state energy plan


Data from the American Wind Energy Association shows that Iowa leads the nation in percentage of electricity generated from wind energy: 28 percent in 2014. (Bill Whittaker/Wikipedia)

Nick Fetty | July 8, 2015

Iowa is one of just ten states that does not have its own state energy plan but that could soon change.

On Monday the Iowa Economic Development Authority along with the Iowa Department of Transportation released a request for qualifications (RFQ) to find potential candidates to help state leaders develop an energy plan. The plan will assess current and former energy supply and demand in the state, examine currently existing programs and policies, and identify potential challenges and opportunities.

Once a bidder is chosen for this project, working groups will be formed to help develop the plan. The groups will focus on four main categories: Economic Development and Energy Careers, Iowa’s Energy Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Energy Efficiency and Conservation. The groups will also address several subtopics including assessing energy workforce needs/ requirements from an industry perspective, leveraging Iowa’s biomass resources for development of biofuels and biorenewable chemicals, alternative fuels and movement of goods, energy assurance/security and strategies to lower energy demand. Additionally, five energy forums will also be hosted across the state as a way to get public input on energy issues.

Data compiled by the Iowa Energy Office shows that the Hawkeye State ranks 11th nationally for energy efficiency, 2nd nationally for wind energy generation, and was responsible for producing over 25 percent of the nation’s ethanol.

Interested bidders must submit their qualification before August 7 to be considered for this project.

On the Radio: Energy from manure to receive a boost


(dmblue444/Flickr)
(dmblue444/Flickr)
June 8, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks to a new standard that could give a boost to an energy industry that utilizes animal manure. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Energy from manure to receive a boost

BY NICK FETTY

A RECENT CHANGE BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, COULD BOOST AN ENERGY INDUSTRY IN IOWA THAT UTILIZES ANIMAL MANURE.

THIS IS THE IOWA ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS.

LAST SUMMER, THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY REVISED ITS RENEWABLE FUELS STANDARD TO GIVE BIOGAS MORE VALUE IN THE FUEL MARKETPLACE. THIS HAS MADE IT SO THAT THE FUELS DERIVED FROM ANIMAL MANURE AND OTHER SOURCES CAN BETTER COMPETE WITH BIOFUELS SUCH AS ETHANOL. METHANE GAS IN PARTICULAR CAN BE EXTRACTED FROM THESE RESOURCES AND USED TO CREATE RENEWABLE ENERGY.

A 2013 REPORT BY THE NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY FOUND THAT IOWA LED THE NATION IN THE AMOUNT OF METHANE AVAILABLE FROM ANIMAL MANURE.

IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY TEAMED UP WITH THE DES MOINES-BASED COMPANY –“ECO-ENGINEERINGS” TO CREATE AN INTERACTIVE MAP AND WEBSITE THAT ALLOWS USERS TO VIEW THE AMOUNT OF METHANE-CONTAINING WASTE IN THEIR AREA.

FOR A LINK TO THE MAP OR TO READ MORE ABOUT THIS INITIATIVE, VISIT IOWA.ENVIROINMENTALFOCUS.ORG.

FROM THE UI CENTER FOR GLOBAL AND REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, I’M JERRY SCHNOOR.

https://iowaenvironmentalfocus.org/2015/04/23/animal-manure-could-create-a-new-energy-market-in-iowa/