Tag Archives: Action Alert

Your calls are needed to close the deal for conservation funding

Your action is needed to close the deal for an important Iowa conservation program.

Your action is needed to close the deal for an important Iowa conservation program.

For much of the last year, Iowans have been working to support providing Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection Program, $25 million in support of its 25th anniversary year.  Despite having provided approximately $300 million in conservation funding to communities in all 99 counties, the legislature has never met is obligation to fully fund the program, meaning many more community-enhancing projects have been left unfunded.


We’ve removed the instructions for taking action here, because

Thanks to the quick action of Iowans like you, reap received funding at historic levels.  learn more >>


 

Want to be ready to protect clean water and Iowa’s environment right when it matters most?  Sign up for Iowa Environmental Council e-News and action alerts now.

Your voice is needed to build Iowa’s leadership in renewable energy

solar

If you own or plan to own a renewable energy installation, your voice is especially important now.

Update [2/24]:  Due to continued problems with its electronic filing system, the Iowa Utilities Board has extended the public comment period by one day.  The board released a statement on the topic that read, in part:  “Because of a recent fire in another state government building, the Board’s electronic filing system (EFS) has experienced some unscheduled down time. Therefore, the Board will extend the deadline for filing responses to February 26, 2014.”

Last month, the Iowa Utilities Board announced a “Notice of Inquiry” to gather information on distributed generation of renewable energy in Iowa.  The notice of inquiry allows the Board to gather information, and evidence suggests some participants want to use this opportunity to dismantle or block important policies supporting distributed wind and solar energy in Iowa.

Iowa’s policy regarding distributed generation affects the state’s ability to lead in renewable energy and to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. For Iowans who have installed wind turbines or solar panels, or want to in the future, these policies govern your relationship with your electric utility and how you are compensated for energy you produce.

This inquiry is your opportunity to tell the Iowa Utilities Board you want take advantage of the substantial and largely untapped potential for solar and wind growth in our state.  You can help build Iowa’s national leadership in renewable energy by submitting your comment to the Board today.

Find out how to submit a comment after the jump.

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Iowans speak out in support of clear goals for clean water in lakes

Rep. Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City) speaks out in support of the Council's petition before the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission at a September meeting in Mason City.

Rep. Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City) speaks out in support of the Council’s petition before the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission at a September meeting in Mason City.

The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission is expected to make a decision on the Council’s petition for clear goals for cleaner lakes at its October 14 meeting in Windsor Heights.

Why is action on this issue so important?  Here are selections from actual comments the Council’s supporters have submitted.  When the Council made a presentation on our petition at the Environmental Protection Commission’s September meeting, we submitted complete versions of these comments and many others.  You still have time to add your voice by submitting your comment now.

Dale in Cedar Falls:

I do open water triathlons.  I would be delighted if I could find even ONE Iowa lake with clear water where I could see my hand when swimming.  I am required to suspend open water training every July because biological activity in Black Hawk County (George Wyth Lake) triggers an allergic reaction.

I am always tempted to move my competition events out of state because I know there are triathlons with clear water for the swim.

I very strongly support the rule making request filed by the Iowa Environmental Council and Environmental Law and Policy Center.

I might add that I grew up on a farm and have been involved in farming, which is no easy enterprise. Yet, farmers should not be permitted to continue using practices that push the costs and consequences of soil and chemical run off onto the general public.

Lisa in Ames:

As a mother, I want my two young boys to enjoy all the pleasures of outdoor play around water that I enjoyed during my youth in northern Wisconsin.  Right now, I am fearful to let them play along the streams and beaches of Iowa.  It’s painful to explain to them that something so natural as water could harm them.

I hope you will work with me to change this situation by adoption clearer, numerical goals for water quality.

Michael in Grinnell:

I know from working in the business community that if you don’t set clear, measureable goals, it is much harder to succeed or even know if you have succeeded.

Have you ever seen an algae bloom on a body of water?  I have.  I can’t imagine anyone wanting to swim in that gunk.  Iowa can do better than that.

Bill in Urbandale:

I used to enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing at Geode State Park when I was growing up. I used to go canoeing on the Raccoon River and camp with my family at Rock Creek.  Sadly, I can no longer experience those activities because of the pollution in Iowa sewers (formerly called streams, rivers, and lakes).

Jan in Okoboji:

Numerical standards are essential!  We need even higher standards for lakes like West Okoboji. This is common sense.

Please do it!

You can learn more about the Council’s petition on our website, and you can speak out in support of the petition through our action alert system.

Meeting clean water goals requires greater commitment to livestock facility inspections

Two fish in an Iowa waterway died during a manure spill.

Manure spills can wreak havoc on aquatic ecosystems. According to the Council’s analysis, illegal manure spills killed more than 1.2 million fish in Iowa in the last ten years.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is poised to take on a major EPA-mandated inspection effort to ensure thousands of Iowa livestock facilities are not discharging manure into Iowa’s waters.  But as DNR prepares for this new responsibility, it does so with far fewer staff than necessary, said Ralph Rosenberg, the Iowa Environmental Council’s executive director.


Take action on this issue by telling your state representatives Iowa needs enough livestock inspectors to adequately protect our rivers and lakes.


“Since 2009, Iowa has substantially reduced the number of livestock facility inspectors protecting the state’s rivers and lakes to the point where we are already concerned about inadequate oversight,” Rosenberg said.  “Now, with this much-awaited round of new inspections set to begin, the under-staffing at DNR demands urgent attention.”


spill-map-for-blogThe Council has prepared a new fact sheet on the need for more livestock inspectors, and we offer an interactive map of the impact harmful manure spills have had in your county in the last decade.


The new inspection effort is necessary after the federal Environmental Protection Agency identified numerous shortcomings in Iowa’s Clean Water Act oversight of livestock facilities last summer.  A draft agreement between the EPA and DNR calls on the state agency to complete enhanced inspections of about 8,000 facilities, reaching 20% of the operations—almost 1,600—each year for five years.

Rosenberg said 13 inspectors, a number that restores past staff reductions and more closely matches DNR’s own initial assessment of its need, would better align the agency’s resources with the size of its task.

“This is not an effort where DNR can drop everything, catch up quickly, then move on,” said Rosenberg.  “Completing the new inspections requires a multi-year commitment from the DNR which will put substantial pressure on the department’s resources.  Providing adequate staff is critical so the department can still meet its other responsibilities.”

Rosenberg explained the DNR originally indicated it would seek 13 additional staff members; after the Governor’s budget provided lesser funding, DNR has suggested it will attempt to re-focus its priorities to move forward with fewer staff.  Rosenberg said the Council and its partners are concerned that without the 13 additional staff, DNR could be forced to weaken its efforts in other areas, such as responding to livestock producer questions and citizen complaints, to complete its new task.

“Protecting water quality in Iowa’s rivers and lakes is the responsibility of state government,” Rosenberg said.  “We have to provide our state agencies the resources they need to enforce existing laws.”

According to previous analysis by the Iowa Environmental Council, manure spills killed more than 1.2 million fish in Iowa waters in the last decade, including 24 spills that killed more than 10,000 fish in a single incident.  Findings from that analysis are summarized on the Council’s website, iaenvironment.org.

New action alert: Help Iowa’s Senators make the case for conservation

ACTION ALERT – UPDATED

Update:  (6/19/2012) The U.S. Senate is expected to act quickly on many farm bill amendments, including one to re-establish the critical conservation compliance – insurance subsidy connection.

The name of the amendment has changed, and is now the Chambliss conservation compliance amendment #2438.

In addition to e-mailing Senators Grassley and Harkin about this legislation, we urge you to call today:

  • Sen. Harkin’s office:  (202) 224-3254
  • Sen. Grassley’s office:  (202) 224-3744

Here’s our previous alert on this topic before this update:

This action alert is part of our continuing special coverage of the 2012 farm bill.

Last week, the U.S. Senate began considering the 2012 farm bill, and one of Iowa’s two Senators, Tom Harkin, made his support of a critical conservation measure public:

“I support crop insurance.  But I do believe that there ought to be conservation compliance along with crop insurance,” he told reporter Clark Kauffman.

“The more taxpayer dollars that can go to conservation, the better off everyone is—the better off farmers are, the better off our society is, the better off our country is,” Harkin added.

The Iowa Environmental Council, other conservation groups, and people from across the country have been calling for a connection between taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies and conservation practices all year, and Harkin’s comments are a sign those calls are being heard in Washington.

THIS IS GOOD PROGRESS, BUT WE CAN’T STOP NOW

Although the Senate Agriculture Committee included some limits on insurance subsidies for farmers who plow native prairies or grasslands for the first time, the current bill does not include badly needed protections for wetlands and highly erodible soil.

Further, the agribusiness lobby would prefer that substantially increased insurance subsidies continue with no strings attached, and are working tirelessly to advance that position.

Your action is needed now because you are in a unique position to help these needed conservation protections become law.  Both of Iowa’s Senators have been strong advocates for reform of federal farm programs, and both could be critical voices of support for these additional conservation practices.

But Senators Harkin and Grassley need to hear from you.  They need to know Iowans expect more than “no strings attached” farm subsidies that contradict efforts to conserve our state’s soil and water.

Without conservation standards, federally subsidized crop insurance has the unintended consequence of encouraging production on marginal lands.  Farmers who want to fulfill their responsibility for good stewardship of the land are at a disadvantage, because poor stewards are allowed to cut corners and reap the same public benefits.

You can support needed conservation action by contacting Senators Harkin and Grassley and encouraging them to support the Cardin Conservation Compliance Amendment.  To take action, fill out the Senators’ contact forms.  You can personalize our sample message, below, or write your own to explain why farm conservation is important to you.

Contact Senator Harkin: http://harkin.senate.gov/contact_opinion.cfm

Contact Senator Grassley:  http://www.grassley.senate.gov/contact.cfm

OUR SUGGESTED MESSAGE

(We encourage you to personalize this message to explain why you think conservation protections belong in the next farm bill.)

Dear Senator:

Iowa is fortunate to be represented by two U.S. Senators who are both strong advocates for needed reforms to farm programs that will protect farmers,  taxpayers, and Iowa’s natural resources.  As the Senate debates the farm bill this week, I encourage you to take another step to protect the public interest by supporting the Cardin Conservation Compliance Amendment (SA-2219).

This important amendment will help ensure taxpayer dollars protect natural resources while providing the safety net farmers need.  Many Iowa farmers work hard to be good stewards of the land and water, but they face a competitive disadvantage when poor stewards can cut corners and receive the same public benefits.  Without your action, crop and revenue insurance payments will continue to incentivize farming on marginal lands where intensive crop production is neither environmentally nor economically sustainable in the long run.

As Congress works to design a farm safety net that meets the needs of today’s farmers, it’s important that policies to protect the long-term health and productivity of Iowa’s landscape do not fall behind.  Now is the time to restore the link between conservation compliance and subsidies for crop insurance.  I hope you will support efforts to incorporate this reform into the final farm bill.

Sincerely,

[your name]

Contact Senator Harkin: http://harkin.senate.gov/contact_opinion.cfm

Contact Senator Grassley:  http://www.grassley.senate.gov/contact.cfm