On the Radio: Iowa’s solar energy future is looking bright


Photo by Chandra Marsono; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers a new report released by the Iowa Environmental Council that supports the growth of solar energy in Iowa. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

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Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commission will not require new nutrient level standards


Photo by josquin2000; Flickr

The commission sided with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in a unanimous vote. The DNR encouraged the commission to reject a petition from environmental groups urging the state to adopt new standards.

The DNR cited “insufficient time” passed since the commission last looked at the issue of nutrient lake pollution, a lack of study of the results of the state’s new nutrient reduction strategy, and other reasons for not wanting to adopt the standards requested in a petition by the Iowa Environmental Council, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and other groups.

To learn more, check out The Gazette. 

Iowa Environmental Council announces Joe Whitworth, freshwater restoration expert, will deliver keynote at Oct. 11 conference


Address is part of day-long event focusing on speeding up progress for clean water, clean energy in Iowa.

DES MOINES — The Iowa Environmental Council is excited to announce Joe Whitworth, president of The Freshwater Trust in Portland, Oregon, will deliver the keynote address at its annual conference October 11 in Des Moines.

Joe Whitworth
Joe Whitworth

A native Midwesterner who spent summers in Iowa, Whitworth has dedicated the last two decades of his career to dramatically speeding the pace of freshwater restoration through innovative solutions like pollution credit trading.

“Given the trends of freshwater indicators and wild fish populations, it has become clear that the traditional conservation methods engaged over the last quarter century are proving inadequate to demands placed on our ecosystems,” says Whitworth. “We must change course.”

At The Freshwater Trust, Whitworth and his team focus on cooperative, market-based solutions that benefit rivers, working lands and local communities – from working with landowners to keep more water in our streams to creating more effective processes for improving aquatic habitat using a localized approach.

The organization has developed strategies for water quality credit trading programs as well as an innovative, patented online platform to manage the funding, permitting, and implementation of restoration projects. “We’re not a think-tank, we’re a ‘do-tank,’” Whitworth said, “and our singular focus is to provide the  platform for practical conservation. At scale.”

Ralph Rosenberg, executive director of the Iowa Environmental Council, said Iowans share Whitworth’s desire to increase the pace of freshwater restoration. “With extraordinary nitrate levels in drinking water sources, continuing algae blooms, and other consequences of water pollution threatening Iowans’ health and quality of life, it is clear we need to
move beyond past approaches that have been too slow,” Rosenberg said.

The Freshwater Trust’s efforts to invest in protecting nature’s benefits—habitat, filtration of drinking water, supporting food production and recreation, and others—underscore why environmental protection matters to Iowans.

“Iowans know we have some of the mostproductive land in the whole world,” Rosenberg said. “But it is important for us to place value on the whole range of benefits our land and water provide us now and in the future.”

Registration is open now for the Iowa Environmental Council’s Annual Conference, “At the Tipping Point: Creating Momentum for a Healthier Iowa Environment.” Details on the event are available at www.iaenvironment.org, or by calling 515-244-1194, extension 210.

Court orders EPA to assess fertilizer runoff pollution in U.S. waterways


GulfofMexico
Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video; Flickr

Environmental advocates in states along the Mississippi River have won a round toward a long-term goal of having federal standards created to regulate farmland runoff and other pollution blamed for the oxygen-depleted “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico and problems in other bodies of water. Continue reading

Iowa Environmental Council’s Keynote Speaker Announced


Joe Whitworth, president of The Freshwater Trust in Portland, Oregon, will deliver the keynote address at the Iowa Environmental Council annual conference October 11 in Des Moines.

Joe Whitworth
Joe Whitworth

At The Freshwater Trust, Whitworth and his team focus on cooperative, market-based solutions that benefit rivers, working lands and local communities – from working with landowners to keep more water in our streams to creating more effective processes for improving aquatic habitat using a localized approach.

Registration is open now for the Iowa Environmental Council’s Annual Conference, “At the Tipping Point: Creating Momentum for a Healthier Iowa Environment.”  Details on the event are available atwww.iaenvironment.org, or by calling 515-244-1194, extension 210.

 

Environmental group wants extension of feedback period for nutrient reduction proposal


Governor Branstad. Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr.

As mentioned last week, Governor Branstad has released a plan to reduce nutrient pollution in Iowa’s waterways.

The plan is available online, and the public has till January 4 to offer feedback on the proposal.

The Iowa Environmental Council does not think this is enough time for the public to review the 200 page nutrient reduction strategy, and is calling on the governor to extend the review beyond the busy holiday season.

Read more here.

Iowa Environmental Council shares thoughts on Iowa waterways’ protection


Photo by cwwycoff1, Flickr.

Iowa Environmental Council‘s Ralph Rosenberg has released his thoughts on the ongoing debate regarding the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ waterway protection.

Rosenberg believes the DNR is capable of protecting Iowa’s waterways, but they might need additional resources to do so. Since 2007, the Iowa DNR has cut nearly one-third of their livestock operations oversight staff.

As detailed earlier in the week, the Environmental Protection Agency has threatened to take over protection of Iowa’s waterways in response to reports indicating inadequate enforcement of livestock operations’ regulations by the DNR.

Read Rosenberg’s thoughts here.

Iowa Environmental Council sues EPA over water quality


Gulf of Mexico. Photo by eutrophication&hypoxia, Flickr.

The Iowa Environmental Council and other environmental groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency. They hope that legal action will prompt the EPA to put limits on the levels of nitrogen and phosphorous pollution in Iowa’s waterways.

This pollution hurts Iowa’s water quality, and also contributes to the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.

The lawsuit challenges the EPA’s denial of a 2008 petition requesting limits on nitrogen and phosphorous, as well as cleanup plans for the pollution.

Read the full press release from the Iowa Environmental Council here.

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.

Iowa Environmental Council seeks action on Cedar Rapids Sewage Plant


The Iowa Environmental Council is concerned that a newly proposed wastewater discharge permit for the Cedar Rapids sewage plant does not adequately restrict mercury and ammonia levels in the waters.

It requests that Iowans with similar reservations share them with the DNR by writing a letter.

Here is a more detailed summary of the council’s concerns:

1. The Cedar River, at Palisades Kepler State Park and 2.3 miles downstream of the Cedar Rapids wastewater discharge, is listed as an impaired state water due to declining mussel populations. Ammonia is highly toxic to mussels. Yet, the proposed permitted ammonia limits are higher than allowed in the current permit and range from 3-13 times greater than what draft EPA guidance suggests to prevent harm to mussels.

2. The newly proposed mercury limits in the permit are above the water quality standard for a stream where fish are routinely caught for human consumption. Mercury is a toxin that can accumulate in the fatty tissues of fish. Elevated levels of mercury have been found in several species of fish near or below the Cedar Rapids Sewage Treatment Plant wastewater discharge.

Iowans who eschew indirect communication can speak at a public hearing on the permit at 7:00 p.m. on December 14.

For more information, check the council’s website.