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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.


Calendar of Events

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.  


Clair Tappaan Lodge Outings


Need 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.


Volunteer Page

News about volunteer activities and upcoming projects.   Click here for more information.



News Releases

Read recent Sierra Club news releases.



Web Archives

Information that has been moved off the front page.



2015 Legislation

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...



Fish Advisories Posted

The Department of Natural Resources has posted fish consumption advisories for nine sites.  Find out where they are here...



Excess 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 year.



The Green Life

Tips for living well and doing good.



Corporations Are Not People

The 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 petition.


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 environment.

Make a non-deductible donation to the Iowa Chapter.

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You 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 for all.”

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.

Climate 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.

Veto 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.

Read 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 process.

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.” 

Read the Iowa Chapter's letter to DNR Director Chuck Gipp.

Read 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 pages long.

The Iowa Chapter submitted comments on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy are being accepted. Read the Iowa Chapter's comments.  Read EPA's comments.

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.

Share 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 climate change.

One way you can help right now is by urging President Obama to designate some of America's best wild places as national monuments.

Upload and share a photo of your favorite piece of America with your family and friends, and inspire them to take action, too.

Ask the Gov

Gov. 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 video.

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 organization.

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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