U.S. Senate Passes Groundbreaking Climate Bill

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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.

6 Ways the Newly Passed Farm Bill Will Impact Iowa

Photo courtesy of Brandon Hirsch, Flickr.

The new farm bill, passed by Senate last week will affects Iowans in several ways, from boosting access to locally grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets to protecting wetlands and prairies, the Des Moines Register said.

Here are six ways the farm bill impacts our state directly:

  1. Farmers win safety net
  2. Local food gets boost
  3. Land, water find protections
  4. Food stamps status quo
  5. Beginning farmers get help
  6. Research

To read more about the bill and Iowa, click here.

On the Radio: Iowa senate considers feed-in tariffs

The Iowa State House. Photo by  w4nd3rl0st, Flickr.
The Iowa State House. Photo by w4nd3rl0st, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s segment discusses a bill to establish a statewide feed-in tariff.

A proposed bill could add incentives for farmer-owned wind installations.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The Iowa Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously passed a bill to establish a statewide feed-in tariff for small wind projects on agricultural land. This means electric utilities must purchase power from the small wind installations at a guaranteed price for up to ten years.

Now that the bill has passed through the committee, it can be voted on this year or next year by the full Senate. Three states and many countries around the world already use feed-in tariffs. In Germany, feed-in tariffs are believed to have played a major role in increasing renewable energy. Iowa would become the first Midwest state to adopt such a policy.

For more information on the bill, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

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

New legislation calls for double-fencing around deer farms

Photo by jonnnnnn, Flickr.
Photo by jonnnnnn, Flickr.

New legislation aims to reduce the threat Chronic Wasting Disease poses to Iowa’s deer herd.

Senate File 59 would increase the height requirement for fences surrounding Iowa deer farms from eight feet to ten feet, and would also require an additional 10-foot secondary fence.

“It’s a long-term disease you don’t solve in a couple of days,” said Dale Garner, Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife bureau chief. “When you get into this, you’re in for the long haul.”

For more information, read the full article at The Gazette.

Wind Production Tax Credit extended

Photo by kendoman26, Flickr.
Photo by kendoman26, Flickr.

The U.S. Senate approved a fiscal cliff budget package early Tuesday morning that would provide a one-year extension to the wind production tax credit.

If the U.S. House approves the deal, the tax credit would extend until the end of 2013 and include projects that begin construction this year.

“Overall, this is very, very good news for the wind industry and I think it will help us out,” said Harold Prior of Milford, executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. Because projects begun this year will be eligible for the tax credit, the Senate’s provisions are basically a two-year extension because the work can be completed in 2014, he added.

For more information, read the full article at the Des Moines Register.

Sierra Club files suit over lead shot

Photo by Alex E. Proimos.

Controversy over the use of lead shot continues in Iowa. Now the Iowa Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit claiming that a legislative committee acted unconstitutionally.

The Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) voted in August to delay the implementation of a ruling by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) banning the use of lead shot for dove hunting in Iowa.

The Sierra Club argues that since the ARRC is part of the legislative branch, and the NRC is part of the executive branch, the ARRC couldn’t constitutionally stop the NRC’s ruling.

Due to the delay, the Senate can still debate the lead shot issue this session. If the Senate doesn’t take action, the ban will go into effect at the beginning of September when the dove season starts.

For more information, read The Gazette’s article here.

Controversial nuclear bill revived

Duane Arnold Energy Center, Iowa's lone nuclear source.

A controversial bill that outlines steps for MidAmerican Energy to build a nuclear power plant in Iowa was revived and approved today by a Senate subcommittee.

The bill, House File 561, failed to advance through the Senate last year.

Critics were angered by the legislation’s sudden resurrection.

“The nuclear industry and MidAmerican Energy specifically would have us believe that nuclear power is clean, safe and cheap when in actuality it is very dangerous and expensive,” said Mike Carberry, an Iowa member of Friends of the Earth, an environmental group based in Washington, D.C.

Advocates of the bill argued that this legislation will help Iowa avoid a potential energy crisis by diversifying the state’s energy sources.

“This bill represents just another piece of that journey to create a more diverse energy sources for our citizens of the state of Iowa,” said John Gilliland, senior vice president of government relations of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry.

The bill will be considered by a full committee on Tuesday, and must pass both the Senate and the House before it can be signed by Gov. Terry Branstad.

For more information, read the full article at the Des Moines Register.

Senate debates ethanol subsidies

Photo by Chazz Layne, Flickr

Tempers are flaring over a proposed elimination of ethanol subsidies. The Huffington Post reports that politicians, including Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, are not short on opinions when it comes to this issue. Those in favor of the measure argue that the subsidies are unnecessary and too costly:

“The days of placing spending programs in the tax code and giving them holy status are over,” [Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.] said. “Ethanol is bad economic policy, bad energy policy and bad environmental policy.”

Coburn’s measure is supported by conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and environmental groups such as the Sierra Club.

“The ethanol subsidy is an abomination, a bad deal for taxpayers and destructive to economic growth,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said. Continue reading