Category Archives: General News

Bridging the Clean Energy Divide

In recent years, Iowa has become a national leader in renewable energy, increasing wind power, solar power and energy efficiency. The benefits of transitioning to clean energy and energy efficiency are many and range from strengthening our economy to improving our quality of life. Renewable energy also offers unique health and economic benefits for Iowa’s seniors and low-income individuals.

Join us for Bridging the Clean Energy Divide: Affordable Clean Energy Solutions for Today and Tomorrow, a panel discussion about the health and economic benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency for low-income individuals and seniors in Iowa.

Bridging the Clean Energy Divide: Affordable Clean Energy Solutions for Today and Tomorrow
April 7 | 7:30-9:00 a.m.
Olsen Center | Des Moines University
No cost to attend, RSVPs are appreciated 

Panelists include:
Eric Burmeister, Executive Director, Polk County Housing Trust Fund
Kirk Kraft, Project Development & Landowner Relations, RPMAccess
Kate McCormick, Midwest Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council
Dr. Yogesh Shah, MD, MPH, Associate Dean-Department of Global Health, Des Moines University

Energy efficiency and renewable energy bring multiple benefits to people, including making homes safer and more comfortable, giving people control over their own energy generation, reducing pollution costs, and making electricity bills smaller and more predictable. All of these benefits are particularly important for low-income individuals.

Households with less disposable income benefit most from cutting energy costs, and are already disproportionately affected by the impacts of pollution from other generation. Implementing policies that particularly help to expand access to clean energy for low-income families is critical for meeting the common goals of saving money, increasing healthy lifestyle, and creating high-quality jobs.

Questions? Contact Climate/Energy Policy Specialist Cindy Lane at 515-244-1194 x203.

Job opportunities: Polk County Conservation Board & Iowa Flood Center

Polk County Conservation Deputy Director – Polk County Conservation Board

The Polk County Conservation Board is seeking an energetic, highly motivated proven leader to serve as the Board’s Deputy Director, assisting the Director in planning, directing, coordinating and evaluating a multi-faceted conservation program that includes park management, outdoor recreation, natural resources management, environmental education, land/water management, wildlife/fishery programs, and revenue generating operations such as an equestrian facility and a golf course.

The Deputy Director must possess excellent verbal and written communication skills and be able to oversee, evaluate and lead multiple projects and programs as well as work and interact effectively with a wide variety of local and regional officials and the general public.

The ideal candidate will possess both a college degree in park/recreational management, natural resources, public or business administration, or a related field and at least five years of progressively responsible experience in an administrative/managerial capacity involving responsibility for planning, organizing, implementing, and supervising park/recreational programs and facilities including budget administration.

Submit application, resume and cover letter online by March 27, 2015.

Full job description and application


Public Relations Coordinator/Iowa Flood Center Outreach Coordinator – Iowa Flood Center

IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, The University of Iowa has an immediate opening for the position of Public Relations Coordinator/Iowa Flood Center Outreach Coordinator. The candidate will assist in the development and implementation of communications and outreach programs for The Iowa Flood Center and other watershed projects across Iowa. This includes serving as an effective and knowledgeable liaison between the research staff and external stakeholders (agency personnel, policy makers, community leaders, and the general public). Examples of specific duties include: working closely with internal and external stakeholders to help develop, organize, and implement outreach programs; evaluating programs; preparing articles and reports; and developing and maintaining a database of external stakeholders across the state.

BS/BA in a science discipline, geography, engineering, education, public relations, communications, or closely related field or an equivalent combination of education and experience is required.

Full job description and application

Solar shines at the Iowa State Capitol

Last Thursday, Governor Branstad joined solar energy installers, manufacturers, renewable energy advocates and customers at Solar Day 4.0 at the Capitol, an annual event hosted by the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association (ISETA).

Governor Branstad speaks to the assembled crowd at Solar Day 4.0 at the Capitol.

Governor Branstad speaks to the assembled crowd at Solar Day 4.0 at the Capitol.

“Solar started with a small base and has taken off,” said Governor Branstad during remarks to the crowd. “Solar is another area that Iowa can be an innovator and a leader, and we can do it in a practical, commonsense way.”
Governor Branstad also spoke about the economic opportunities presented by solar, the jobs created, and the tremendous potential for growth, as did ISETA President Tim Dwight.

Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association President Tim Dwight.

Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association (ISETA) President Tim Dwight.

“A few years ago, solar is the U.S. was being installed every four minutes. Today, solar is being installed every 90 seconds, “Dwight said. “Solar has seen huge growth and Iowa is getting on the map.”

“Customers are excited about the cost of creating their own power, and improving their communities and the environment,” he continued.

This sentiment was echoed by Allan Mallie, an Iowa pork and solar energy producer. Mallie has installed a 40 kW solar array on his 400 acre farm near Lisbon.

“I am harvesting solar energy every day and loving it,” Mallie said. “Solar has diversified our income and makes our farm a viable agricultural operation for the next generation. I’m very excited this. Solar is clean, it’s usable and it will help keep my family in the agricultural business.”

All three men also spoke about the importance of continuing to expand Iowa’s solar market and advancing policies and programs that encourage growth and increase access to solar for Iowa farmers, businesses and homeowners. The Iowa legislature is currently considering solar tax incentive increases to continue the rapid growth of solar in the state,help meet the high demand for incentives, and reduce current waiting lists. The solar industry in Iowa has grown exponentially in recent years thanks in large part to the Iowa solar tax incentive.

“Investing in solar is a win-win for Iowa,” said Iowa Environmental Council Energy Program Director Nathaniel Baer. “When we facilitate growth for renewable energy it benefits our economy, health and quality of life.”

Des Moines Water Works’ concerns are legitimate

By Executive Director Ralph Rosenberg

Yesterday, the Des Moines Water Works Board of Trustees voted unanimously to pursue a lawsuit against the Board of Supervisors in Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties in their role as governing authority for 10 drainage districts that are discharging pollution into the Raccoon River, threatening Des Moines’ drinking water. This decision comes at the expiration of the issuance of a mandatory 60 day notice of intent to sue and unsuccessful efforts to address the issue under the current voluntary strategy.

Des Moines Waterworks (DMWW) has legitimate concerns about the operations of the drainage districts in the three counties in northern Iowa named in the lawsuit. These drainage districts contribute to high nitrate concentrations in the Raccoon River which create a significant treatment challenge for DMWW to provide safe drinking water to their customers. We share DMWW’s concern about the lack of urgency and measurable progress to reduce the nitrate pollution these drainage districts are sending downstream.

A Des Moines Register poll conducted last month found 63 percent of Iowans believe DMWW should pursue a lawsuit against drainage districts in northwest Iowa. It’s clear that Iowans want to see increased action on achieving measurably cleaner water in the state, and the lawsuit raises important questions about the effectiveness of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy in achieving measurably cleaner water.

For the past two years, the Council has called for improvements to strengthen the all-voluntary strategy to address Iowans’ concerns about the lack of local goals, timelines with benchmarks, consistent water quality testing and assessment to gauge progress, and sustainable funding for implementation. Perhaps DMWW would not have found it necessary to file suit against the three counties in northern Iowa had the state’s leaders taken meaningful action to address these concerns.

While the lawsuit works its way through the courts, we will continue to call for these improvements, and work collaboratively with elected officials, agricultural groups, individual farmers and landowners, environmental groups and other diverse stakeholders to ensure Iowa’s water quality is improving.

Iowans call for conservation funding

Yesterday, more than 250 advocates made their way to Des Moines for Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day at the Capitol. The event, which was co-hosted by the Iowa Environmental Council and the Iowa REAP Alliance, included representatives from 35 organizations.

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250+ advocates gathered at the Capitol to speak with legislators about the importance of protecting Iowa’s natural resources

Many participants spoke with policymakers specifically about advancing clean water initiatives, and the need to support and protect our state’s natural resources through sustained funding. Many also expressed concern about the high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in our waterways, and the threats posed to drinking and recreational waters.

Advocates called for increased and sustainable funding for several initiatives including REAP, IWILL and the Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS). Many asked for increased oversight as well, calling for local reduction goals, timelines with benchmarks, and required consistent water quality testing and assessment, all of which are currently lacking in the NRS.

If you attended the event – thank you! Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day at the Capitol is one of Iowa’s environmental community’s most effective tools to show that there is a broad base of support for a healthy environment. By making your voice heard, you  helped impress upon policymakers that environmental legislation needs to be a priority this session.

We will keep you informed about opportunities to take action on these and other environmental and energy issues.