2014 Annual Dinner
The 2014 Iowa Chapter Annual Meeting was held Saturday, October 4, at
the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City. Jerry Neff, a long-time volunteer from Pleasant Valley, was presented a Distinguished Service Award. Karl Brooks, EPA Region 7 Administrator, was the featured speaker.
See photos from the event here.
Get in some outdoor time.
Our Sierra Club Groups in Iowa regularly plan outings and other
activities. Select a Local Group in the My backyard dropdown menu
and get details of the outings groups have planned.
Tappaan Lodge Outings
to get away? Check out the activities being offered at the Sierra
Club's Clair Tappaan Lodge at the Sierra Nevada of California mountains in
the middle of the Tahoe National Forest.
about volunteer activities and upcoming projects. Click here
for more information.
Read recent Sierra Club news releases.
Information that has been moved off
the front page.
Are you interested in what is going on with our lawmakers in Des Moines? See the Legislation that is of interest to you, your environment, and your community.
Find out more and respond to our action alerts.
Manure Spills and Fish Kills
Find out where the latest
manure spill and/or fish kill occurred here...
The Department of Natural Resources has
posted fish consumption advisories for nine sites. Find out where
they are here...
rainwater or snow melt need somewhere to go. Often, the sewage
bypasses a treatment plant thus preventing sewage from backing up into
basements. Facilities are required to report bypasses
caused by mechanical failures to the DNR within 12 hours of onset or
discovery. Facilities do not have to immediately report bypasses from
precipitation events, but must include them in their monthly operating
report to the DNR. Click here
to see the most current information about your city's bypass history this
for living well and doing good.
Are Not People
Sierra Club has joined a coalition to advance the efforts to amend the
constitution so that corporations are not persons. Find
out more and sign the MoveToAmend
DONATE TO THE IOWA CHAPTER
The Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club
now accepts PayPal so you can help financially support Iowa Sierra
Club's objectives for clean air, clean water and a cleaner
a non-deductible donation to the Iowa Chapter.
can also make a tax deductible donation to the Iowa Chapter.
2015 Legislative Session to Open Soon
The Legislature opens January 12 with six new Senators and 13 new Representatives. Two
additional new faces will join the General Assembly when it convenes in January. A special election was held in December to elect a Senator
from Senate District 12, the district vacated by Joni Ernst who was elected to the U.S. Senate. State Rep. Mark Costello, a Republican from Imogene,
won the election by defeating Democrat Steve Adams of Red Oak and Libertarian Don Brantz of Glenwood.
The Iowa Chapter Executive Committee has outlined its priorities for the legislative session. The priorities fall into one of seven
categories – Air Quality, CAFOs, Energy, Good Government, Waste & Toxics, Water Quality and Wildlands & Wildlife. See the priorities for the
upcoming session on the Chapter’s 2015 Legislature webpage.
Sierra Club Statement on House and Senate KXL Push
U.S. House and Senate Republican leaders have made clear that they intend to make the dirty
and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline the first thing they vote on in the coming weeks.
In response, Melinda Pierce, Sierra Club’s Legislative Director, released the following statement:
"Just about the only people who think the first thing Congress should do is force approval of Keystone XL are those working for oil and gas
billionaires -- which explains exactly why Congressional Republicans want to do it. For those in Congress who don’t share those pro-polluter
goals, this first vote will be a chance to stand together and send the message to the public that we won’t go backwards. After all, Americans
didn’t vote for dirty air, dirty water, or dirty energy, even if Congress is committed to doing just that.
"Ultimately, Congressional Republicans are yet again wasting everyone’s time trying to inject themselves into a national interest decision
that belongs to President Obama alone. The President has repeatedly dismissed pro-pipeline arguments and said he’d oppose Keystone XL if it
contributes to the climate crisis. We fully expect him to reject this legislative attack on his authority and reject this pipeline once and
Pipeline Proposed to Cross Iowa
Whether you call it the Iowa Pipeline, Dakota Access or Bakken Pipeline,
Iowans are fired up about the prospect of a crude oil pipeline crossing our state from one corner to another. See the
Sierra Club Iowa Chapter’s webpage dedicated to this proposal
and check back often for updates.
Energy Transfer Partners (ETF), also doing business as Dakota Access, announced plans for a proposed oil pipeline that will run
diagonally across Iowa, through 17 or 18 counties. It will carry light sweet crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota
to Illinois where it will link with another pipeline that will transport the oil to terminals along the Gulf of Mexico. The company
also announced that some of the crude oil will be loaded onto rail cars for shipment to the east coast.
Learn more about the proposed pipeline.
Counties in Iowa that will be along the proposed route include Lyon, Sioux, O’Brien, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Webster,
Boone, Story, Polk, Jasper, Mahaska, Keokuk, Wapello, Jefferson, Van Buren and Lee. The northeast tip of Sac County is also in
the study area.
The Iowa Chapter urges you to join in opposition to the pipeline proposed by Energy Transfer Partners.
Keystone XL Fails to Pass the Senate
With 60 votes needed to pass the Senate, Keystone XL fell short by one vote.
Find out more.
U.S. House Passes Keystone XL Bill
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill (HR5682) on November 14 that directs approval of construction
of the Keystone XL pipeline. The vote was 252-161 with Iowa Representatives King, Latham and Loebsack voting yes and Braley voting no.
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill November 18.
Sierra Club continues to oppose the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
According to the Washington Post, President Obama after the vote said he had “to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs
bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices...It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to
the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else,” he added. “That doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”
Read the entire article.
Change is Hurting Iowans
Iowa’s leading scientists released their statement on the effects of climate change on Iowa residents.
Heavier rains and increased flooding are two of the impacts. Other impacts, according to the 180 scientists, include water quality, increasing
exposures to allergens and air pollutants, the introduction of new infectious diseases and increased stress on families.
Learn more here.
Jeopardizes Historic REAP Vote
Iowans made it loud and
clear in 2014 that REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) is a popular
program. Legislators heard us and, in response, funded REAP at
$25 million through three pieces of legislation.
Gov. Terry Branstad
vetoed all but $16 million of the bill.
Branstad, Reynolds, Northey Secretly Meet with Homebuilders to “Ditch the Rule”
Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds secretly met September 29 with “stakeholders” at a meeting hosted by the Iowa Homebuilders Association.
The meeting was posted on the Governor’s calendar as a public meeting. However, members of the public attempting to hear Branstad’s thoughts on the
rule were shown the door before they ever entered the meeting space.
our news release.
On September 30, The Des Moines Register reported Branstad as saying the rule would add bureaucratic layers, making it more difficult for farmers to implement conservation practices that improve water quality.
The Register also quoted Branstad as saying the proposed rule "is going to prevent the things we're doing to clean the water.
Read the article.
What they're "doing to clean the water" is voluntary compliance with vetoed funding.
Topsoil a Dirty Subject
Topsoil became a dirty subject for conservationists arguing to retain 4" of topsoil after new development construction and developers
who say it's simply too expensive. Reasons for the topsoil restoration are to help increase water infiltration into the soil,
to prevent runoff and erosion, to retain healthy soil and to lessen the degradation of water quality. Topsoil retention will aid the homebuyers in their efforts to establish landscaping on their lots – grass, trees and gardens.
The EPC at its September meeting directed the DNR to commence rulemaking on the issue after accepting a stakeholder group's recommendation on
preserving topsoil would modify a general permit requiring topsoil preservation for construction sites that disturb one acre or more adopted in the
fall of 2012. The current rule calls for retaining four inches of topsoil spread on the surface, unless infeasible. The rulemaking process generally
takes several months to complete and includes an opportunity for the public to submit comments.
Concerns about high costs of implementing the rule arose in 2013. A stakeholder group was
organized in accordance with Executive Order 80, signed by Gov. Branstad in 2012, that requires rulemaking authorities to work with those who
will be affected by new regulations. The governor claimed at its signing that executive order is about injecting common-sense into the regulatory
Under Governor Branstad’s Executive Order 80, agencies are required to form stakeholder groups to
review any proposed rule before the rulemaking process can begin. Item 2 of the Executive Order states
that “The group shall consist of stakeholders that can adequately represent the varying interests that
will be significantly affected by any contemplated draft rule proposal that may result from the
deliberation so [sic] of the stakeholder rulemaking group. The appointing agency shall ensure that all
significant or known interests have an opportunity to be represented, to the extent practicable.”
Not all Iowans would agree that the topsoil stakeholder group injected common sense into the process since
the majority of the group's members are involved with new development construction. Members of the topsoil stakeholder
group included Pat Sauer, Iowa Storm Water Education Program; Creighton Cox, Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines; Joe
Pietruszynski of Hubbell Realty; Chip Classon, Jerry’s Homes; Lucy Hershberger, Forever Green Inc.; Mark Watkins, McAninch Corporation;
and Chad Ingels, member of the Environmental Protection Commission.
Sierra Club Iowa Chapter wrote to DNR Director Chuck Gipp in April 2014 requesting that he expand the stakeholder group membership to include
additional stakeholders who are interested in protecting water quality and restoring the soil to a site so that the normal ground water functions
are returned. Gipp ignored the Chapter request.
“It is obvious that the stakeholders were selected with a bias in favor of the construction industry to
ensure the rule changes would favor construction,” said Deborah Neustadt, the Iowa Chapter chair. “Unfortunately, changing the rule
would come at the expense of protecting water quality.”
the Iowa Chapter's letter to DNR Director Chuck Gipp.
the Iowa Chapter's news release.
Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
The Iowa Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural
Resources and Iowa State University released its Iowa Nutrient
Reduction Strategy. The strategy is supposed to include plans for
reducing the amount of Nitrogen and Phosphorus that flow from the Mississippi
River watershed into the Gulf of Mexico, where the pollutants contribute to
the dead zone.
The strategy, however, addresses a reduction in Nitrogen and
Phosphorus resulting from non-point sources (primarily agriculture) by
voluntary compliance, more research and additional technology.
Read the strategy
document. Be advised that the Nutrient Reduction Strategy is 197
The Iowa Chapter submitted comments on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy are being
the Iowa Chapter's comments. Read
According to the EPA, Iowa is one of only two states that have a strategy and one of only three states that set nutrient
reduction goals; however, it has not set a timeframe for meeting these goals. A
report issued by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General in September 2014, indicates Iowa is committed to the Task Force’s 45 percent nutrient reduction goal,
but the Director of the Iowa Nutrient Research
Center voiced concerns about the magnitude of change that is required to reach this goal.
The report concludes, “…An ambitious environmental goal such as reducing the size of the hypoxic zone must be addressed by
a well-designed and implemented plan that also recognizes the challenges for the EPA and states. This includes a uniform and comprehensive
measurement and accountability system for setting goals and tracking progress at the state and watershed level. The EPA and other federal Task
Force members need to lead as well as support states in developing a measurement system that includes essential baseline data and tracking progress
toward goals using consistent measures.”
The Iowa Chapter will continue to follow progression of the nutrient reduction strategy to reduce nutrients into the MIssissippi River Valley.
Your Piece of America
Sierra Club launched My
Piece of America, where we encourage you to share your favorite
outdoor place and take action to protect special areas.
Many of our favorite wild places -- from the striking red rock deserts
of the Southwest to the cool, leafy city park where you take your kids
-- need your help to protect them from threats like oil drilling and
One way you can help right now is by urging President Obama to designate
some of America's best wild places as national monuments.
and share a photo of your favorite piece of America with your family
and friends, and inspire them to take action, too.
Terry Branstad launched his weekly video initiative in 2011 where he answers
questions submitted via Twitter, Facebook, email and via his
website. Watch the governor's videos or send in a question. See
The Governor has discontinued this service.
The Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club's members are
approximately 5,000 of your friends and neighbors. Inspired by nature, we
work together to protect our communities and the planet. The Club is
America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental
Sierra Club® and
"Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks
of the Sierra Club. © 2008
Sierra Club. The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service
mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.
Last updated 1.6.2015
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