Iowa hopes for increased participation in National Walk to School Day


Photo by OSDE, Flickr.

National Walk to School Day is next Wednesday, and schools across Iowa are encouraged to participate.

Last year, 72 schools participated in Iowa. People involved in the program hope that number increases to over 100 this year.

Back in 1969, 41 percent of students walked or biked to school. In 2001, that percentage was down to 13.

This is bad news for both children’s health, and the health of our environment.

Read more from The Gazette here.

High temperatures force early dismissals at Iowa schools


Photo by woodleywonderworks, Flickr.

This year’s unusually warm summer continues to affect Iowans.

Schools around the state have been forced to dismiss students early during some of the hotter days. On Thursday, 50 Iowa schools ended early.

As long as the school day last for 5.5 hours, schools do not have to make up for the lost class time. However, with the frequency that some schools have had early dismissal this month, students will lose substantial schooling if no school days are added.

Read more from The Gazette here.

Environmentalists link crop insurance to habitat loss


Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region, Flickr.

Environmental groups blame crop insurance for the loss wildlife habitat in Iowa and around the nation.

A report from the Environmental Working Group and Defenders of Wildlife attributes crop insurance to the increase in farming on marginally productive land. This causes the loss of wildlife habitats such as wetlands and grasslands.

A study by one of the authors of the report found that only Texas and South Dakota lost more habitat than Iowa over a three-year period.

Read more from The Gazette here.

Grassley supports Romney, but not his stance on wind energy


Photo by IowaPolitics.com, Flickr.

Senator Chuck Grassley objects to Mitt Romney’s stance on federal tax incentives for wind energy.

Despite endorsing the presidential candidate, Grassley has expressed frustration over Romney’s plans to let the tax incentives expire. Currently, wind farms receive 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced.

Both Romney’s position and Congress’ continued inaction in extending the tax incentives have already led to layoff in the U.S. wind industry manufacturing sector.

Read more from The Gazette here.

Low water levels force power plant to dredge Cedar River


Photo by NRCgov, Flickr.

Two days ago we reported that low stream flows are negatively impacting water recreation in Iowa. The low water levels are also forcing the Duane Arnold Energy Center nuclear power plant to dredge a portion of the Cedar River.

The power plant uses water from the Cedar River to cool steam after it has been used to generate electricity. Without the water, the power plant would not be able to operate.

If the Cedar River’s water levels get too low, there’s a chance that the power plant would have to temporarily shut down.

Read more from The Gazette here.

Low stream flows impact water recreation across Iowa


Photo by Sara Cady, Flickr.

The drought has led to low stream flows in Iowa. As a result, water recreation has been limited in many parts of the state.

Lots of Iowa’s rivers are so low that paddlers find their vessels stuck on shoals far more often than most years. Additionally, some companies that rent out tubes, canoes and kayaks have had to curtail their business due to the low stream flows.

Barges in the lower Mississippi River have not suffered too much from the low stream flows, but they have had to lighten their loads to lower the risk of hitting shoals.

Read more from The Gazette here.

Gov. Branstad doesn’t want to change ethanol production


Governor Terry Branstad. Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr.

A week ago we reported that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack does not want ethanol production to decline as a result of the drought.

Now Governor Terry Branstad has also revealed his support for not changing this year’s ethanol production goals.

This is bad news for livestock producers who want a reduction in ethanol production in order to help lower the current feed prices.

Read more from The Gazette here.