Asbestos assessment and removal funds still available for small communities

Exposure to asbestos has been linked to higher incidences of cancer, weaker immune systems and other health effects. (Aaron Suggs/flickr)
Jenna Ladd| August 29, 2017

The Derelict Building Grant Program still has funds available for qualifying communities looking to inspect and properly remove asbestos from abandoned buildings, according to a recent announcement by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Derelict Building Grant Program funding is awarded annually to communities of 5,000 residents or less on a competitive basis. It provides financial support needed to asses for and remove asbestos, to deconstruct or renovate structures and to limit demolition materials that end up in landfills.

So far in 2017 the program has provided $350,000 in support to 18 communities across the state. The largest grant of $60,000 went to Osceola for the abatement and renovation of a commercial building that the city plans to use to spur economic development in the area.

“If a building collapses and the presence of asbestos is unknown, it can increase the economic burden on the community,” said the DNR’s Scott Flagg in a recent statement. He continued, “In addition, a building’s appearance may not reveal the actual condition of the structure. Building assessments can assist communities determine how best to address an abandoned building.”

In the same statement, the DNR announced that the program has an additional $50,000 to be disbursed this year. Applications will be accepted until funds are no longer available.

Applications for the next round of funding are due April 4, 2018.

Report: Local regulations for wind energy projects can protect interests of rural landowners

Wind turbines in northern Iowa. (Brooke Raymond/Flickr)
Wind turbines in northern Iowa. (Brooke Raymond/Flickr)
Nick Fetty | June 9, 2016

Local regulations could be key to protecting the interests of landowners and communities when pursuing wind energy projects, according to a recent report.

Respect and Restore: Reassessing Local Wind Energy Standards was published last month by the Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs. The report’s authors outline the impacts that heavy construction vehicles and other equipment associated with wind energy projects can have on land and infrastructure not designed for such loads. The report also discusses various county and municipal ordinances that affect the construction and decommissioning of wind energy projects.

The report’s authors recommend that county and other local governments enact ordinances that better protect rural lands and roads, particularly during the construction of wind projects. The authors conclude:

“As wind development continues to grow, it is essential that developers and local officials work to tackle the concerns and issues experienced by community stakeholders. Continuing to develop renewable resources provides tangible benefits to rural communities across the nation. But to ensure that these benefits are not realized at the expense of landowners and community members, wind energy projects must be developed in a way that addresses the challenges presented by the construction process.”

The Center for Rural Affairs published a similar report last year which outlined zoning, methods for regulation of wind energy development, and state and local control of regulations on wind projects in Iowa and other Midwestern states.

Iowa was the first state in the country to produce more than 30 percent of its electricity from wind and currently leads in the nation in percentage of energy production from wind power.

Rural Iowa sees economic benefits of wind farms

An Iowa wind farm (Brian Hoffman / Flickr)
A wind farm along Interstate-35 in Iowa. (Brian Hoffman / Flickr)
Nick Fetty | March 25, 2016

Iowa is one of six states where farmers and rural landowners receive $10 million each year for wind energy projects, according to data released this week by the American Wind Energy Association.

The data also show that nationwide U.S. wind farms pay $222 million dollars each year to farming families and other rural landowners.  More than $156 million – or roughly 70 percent – of those funds go to landowners in counties where income levels are below the national average.

The report also finds that wind energy generation saves about 226 gallons of water for each American annually. The release of the report coincided with World Water Day which occurred on March 22.

Last year Iowa produced 31 percent of its electricity from wind power, marking the first time in the country’s history that a state has generated more than 30 percent of its electricity from wind. The Hawkeye State ranks first nationally for percentage of electricity generated by wind power and ranks third – behind Texas and California – for overall amount of wind energy produced.

Along with Iowa, California, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas were the other states that receive about $10 million each year for wind projects.

This recent set of data is part of the 2015 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report which will be released in its entirety on April 12. The full report will provide a comprehensive update on the state of the U.S. wind market, job numbers, state-by-state comparisons, and more.