We’ve moved!


As of Tuesday, November 17, 2015, the Iowa Environmental Council’s blog is hosted on its website, iaenvironment.org. Visit the Council’s blog, now the Iowa Environmental Voice, and explore the other resources available on our recently relaunched website.

This wordpress and all previous blog entries made here will remain live for archival purposes. Content on this page will not be updated going forward, nor will responses be posted to comments made after 11-17-15.

Thanks for reading!

Job opportunity: Northern District of Iowa, U.S. Department of Justice

The Northern District of Iowa, U.S. Department of Justice seeks a paralegal.

The Paralegal will perform a variety of legal assistance duties in an office providing legal assistance to attorneys or litigation teams. Among the services to be performed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Examines and evaluates information in case files, for case litigation worthiness and appropriate titles of law;
  • Determines the need for additional information, independent surveys, evidence, and witnesses, and plans a comprehensive approach to obtain this information;
  • Through on-site visits, interviews, and review of records on operations, looks for and evaluates the relevance and worth of evidence;
  • Selects, summarizes, and compiles comparative data to examine and evaluate respondent’s deficiencies in order to provide evidence of illegal practices or patterns;
  • Reviews economic trends and forecasts at the national and regional level to evaluate the impact of successful prosecution and potential remedial provisions of ongoing investigations and litigation;
  • Identifies types of recordkeeping systems and types of records maintained which would be relevant. Gathers, sorts, and interprets data from various record systems including computer information systems;
  • Interviews potential witnesses for information and prepares witnesses for court appearances;
  • Develops statistics and tabulations, such as standard deviations, regression analyses, and weighting, to provide leads and supportive data for case litigation. Prepares charts, graphs, and tables to illustrate results;
  • Analyzes data, develops recommendations and justifications for the attorney(s) who will take the matter to court. Continues to work with the attorney(s) during the progress of the case, obtaining and developing further evidence and exhibits, providing administrative assistance, and maintaining custody of exhibits, documents, and files;
  • May appear in court as a witness to testify concerning exhibits prepared supporting plaintiff’s case.
  • May draft detailed legal documents including briefs, pleadings, appeals, agreements, contracts and legal memoranda.

To learn more and apply, please contact:

Career Management/Bill Grimes

Barb Andersen joins Council as Clean Energy Organizer

Clean Energy Organizer Barbara Andersen

Barbara Andersen

The Iowa Environmental Council is pleased to announce that Barbara Andersen has joined its staff as a clean energy organizer.

Andersen will work alongside Energy Program Director Nathaniel Baer and Climate and Energy Policy Specialist Cindy Lane to advance policies and programs that encourage and facilitate clean energy growth and development, with a focus on mobilizing Iowans to advocate for clean energy leading up to the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.

“I’m excited to be here and look forward to working with volunteers and organizations to pose questions about clean energy to presidential candidates leading up to the Feb. 1 2016 Iowa Caucuses,” Andersen said. “The point of planning and coordination is to create action that brings about change, and I know that Iowans are up to the task.”

Andersen, a Waterloo, Iowa native, comes to the Council from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where she was an instructor in the Department of Urban Planning. Prior to teaching at Ball State University, Andersen served as the public transportation policy and planning manager for the Downtown Community Alliance, where she focused on growing the use of alternative modes of transportation in greater central Iowa.

Andersen is passionate about advocating for clean energy and energy efficiency, recognizing the far-reaching effects. This anonymous poem hangs in her home:

Turn off the lights
In the silence of your darkened home
You can hear a wild river whispering its thanks

She holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Idaho, a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University.

“Barbara academic background, coupled with her experience working on a diverse set of issues related to sustainability make her the perfect fit for this position,” said Energy Program Director Nathaniel Baer. “Iowans have a unique opportunity to shape the national clean energy conversation leading up to the election, and Barbara’s work with our supporters and allies to elevate this issue leading up to the caucuses will help ensure a strong clean energy future.”

Barbara can be contacted at andersen@iaenvironment.org.

Ann Y. Robinson joins Council as Ag Policy Specialist

The Iowa Environmental Council is pleased to announce that Ann Y. Robinson has joined the Council as its new Agricultural Policy Specialist. Robinson, of Des Moines, is a long-time Council member and past board member.


Robinson has a background working in sustainable agriculture and water quality issues in Iowa and the region. She came to the Council from the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), where she served as the Midwest Regional Office Director. In that role, she specialized in crop insurance and farm to school programs.

Previously, she worked in project management and communications for groups including the Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group, Iowa Rivers Revival and the Izaak Walton League of America. Robinson also spent several years coordinating state wetlands and watershed planning efforts for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

“I am very excited to have the chance to work with the Council to support and expand soil and water conservation efforts in Iowa,” says Robinson. “I have long admired the Council’s important work, and I look forward to contributing to the efforts of the staff and board.”

“Reducing agricultural pollution and strengthening programs and policies to reduce nutrients has been and continues to be a top priority for the Council,” said Executive Director Ralph Rosenberg. “Ann brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position, which will be a great asset to the Council as she builds upon our past efforts to work with diverse stakeholders.”

Robinson replaces Jennifer L. Terry, who joined IEC in 2013 as its first Agriculture Policy Specialist. Terry left IEC in September 2015 to take a position as policy specialist for the Des Moines Water Works.

Robinson can be contacted at robinson@iaenvironment.org or 515-244-1194, ext 211.

20 Years of Elevating Iowa’s Environment

One week ago, 200+ environmental advocates, professionals, community, business and industry leaders, students, researchers, lawmakers and more gathered in Des Moines for our 2015 Annual Conference, Elevate: Creating an Environment of Action.

chad pregracke

Chad Pregracke

This year’s conference, featured keynote speaker Chad Pregracke, the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year, author, president & founder of Living Lands & Waters; a nonprofit river clean-up organization headquartered in the Quad Cities, who wowed the crowd with his inspiring story, charisma, energy and  contagious passion for cleaning up America’s rivers.

Chad was a tough act to follow, but other speakers were up to the task. Nationally renowned natural resource, energy, agricultural, social science, communications, legal and advocacy experts including Jacqui Patterson (NAACP), Jerry Hatfield (USDA-ARS), Cara Pike (Climate Access) and many more shared their knowledge, experience and tools to empower Iowans to identify opportunities, define moments and move interest to action to elevate Iowa’s environment.

This year also marked the Council’s 20th anniversary. Dennis Keeney, the Council’s second board president, the first director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and author of The Keeney Place:  A Life in the Heartland, reflected on this milestone during his lunch hour remarks, and we are pleased to be able to share those remarks with you here.


Welcome fellow environmentalists, what a beautiful fall day.

Thanks to the organizers for putting this conference on and for giving me a chance to reflect and forecast.

Twenty years, wow.

In 1995, I had been director of the Leopold Center for seven years, having started the Leopold Center in 1988. I had just turned 58 and was a grandfather. The future was real. I felt the Leopold Center was stable and I could risk being active in an environmental organization.

The Iowa Groundwater Protection Act, passed in 1987, was a brilliant piece of legislation. Thank you Ralph (Rosenberg), Dave (Osterberg) and Paul (Johnson). The Leopold Center had opened up new research and collaborative pathways with Iowa State, Practical Farmers of Iowa and many other in-state institutions. The legislation had also formed CHEEC (Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination) as well as monitoring programs for DNR, and money to address the sinkhole problem. But bridges with the nonprofit environmental organizations were needed. Enter the Iowa Environmental Council.

Two environmental leaders, Buz Brenton and Charlotte Hubbell had a dream, and the skills and vision to implement the dream. They envisioned an organization that would be a central meeting of minds for those groups desiring to improve Iowa’s environment. Charlotte and Buz worked tirelessly to get the Council off the ground and in the end, they created a unique organization that has not been duplicated elsewhere.

I recall the first organizational months as if they were just yesterday. Groups of us were assigned to come up with needed policy and research needs in a number of areas. We met in places around downtown, sometimes Charlotte would provide box lunches.

We hammered out the priorities of the Council and came up with a charter document. We decided to encourage individual membership, as well as organizational membership, a key to staying in touch with people and real world issues.

Susan Heathcote, the first full-time program staffer, was hired in early Jan of 1996 and has been the go-to leader of the Council’s water policy work ever since. Susan provides the science and policy we need to work with the diverse interests of the Council and interact with the public. Over the years she has been the valuable staff member that knows the score.

Charlotte was elected chair of the board and Linda Appelgate was the Council’s first executive director. Two years later, Charlotte along with her husband, moved to Europe for a business position, and I took over chair of the board. We were still forming, feeling our oats, and beginning to make a difference. It was a thrilling time to be involved. I was chair for two years and stayed on the Board for several more years.

Early on, IEC developed a collaborative model, getting people and groups together, finding areas of common agreement, and working toward solutions. With few exceptions, we have not resorted to the courts for action. As you will see in the display in the next room, IEC has made a lot of progress, but it takes dedicated effort.

IEC, thanks to great public relations programs, hard work on the hill, and to excellent coordination with the member organizations and the press, gained a strong reputation as a spokesperson for environmental issues.

20 years have flown by. I have been retired for 15 years, directed the Leopold Center for just 12 years. Now a grandfather six times over, I have my first great grandchild. My perspectives on the future and the need for sustainability continuously broaden.

IEC has new digs, a larger staff, and a vibrant executive director. The board is smaller and easier to work with, so I am told. IEC has a record number of member organizations and a large individual membership base. It is a strong sustainable model. I can name several somewhat similar groups who have dropped by the wayside in this time.

Looking ahead, I see turbulent times. Society has taken on conflict as the way to solve our problems. It will not work. But given that over 40% of our legislature is now lawyers, bad things are bound to happen. Examples abound, chaotic lawmaking, no solutions being proposed, obstructionists gain power. Lawmakers are in chaos and gridlock.

In Iowa, we must not lose control to extremists who are dedicated to destroying EPA, health care, and other government programs that help people. The power is there to commit havoc. Too much already has been done in the name of business over environment and education. Why do we subsidize building a polluting fertilizer nitrogen plant while vetoing funds for the Nutrient Reduction Strategy?

Just look to the east at Wisconsin. (Ugh!)

Take a lesson from Boehner, he called for realistic leadership, rather than drumbeats for the impossible. Take on winnable issues. It also will be important to use existing laws for environmental protection and to advocate for better comprehensive laws. Be aware of what might sneak in during midnight lawmaking.

IEC has a tremendous future ahead. It is building staff in critical areas, and gaining regional recognition. Thanks to the membership, the continued leadership of dedicated board members, that is all of us. We can be proud.

I know you are up to the task. I am proud to have been part of IEC for the past two decades. Thanks Charlotte, Buz and Linda for getting us started on a sustainable path. Thanks to all of you for supporting the greatest environmental coalition ever.

On to the next 20!”