SIERRA CLUB, IOWA CHAPTER

Website Archive

 

 

EPC Takes No Action to Extend Ban of Manure on Soybeans

On October 16, 2012, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) decided not to permanently extend a rule banning the application of liquid swine manure to soybean fields. 

In 2006, then-EPC members passed a rule limiting the application of swine manure to soybeans at the rate of 100 pounds per acre, and completely banning the application in five years. The commissioners stipulated that further research would be examined at the end of five years to determine if scientific evidence supported a full ban.

The results of three studies presented to the EPC indicated a full ban should be implemented. All three studies conducted by Iowa State University indicate that nitrate concentrations are higher in waters draining from soybean fields where swine manure is applied than when the manure is applied only to corn.

EPC’s decision to do nothing results in continuation of the rule that the application of swine manure to soybeans will continue to be restricted to 100 pounds per acre.

Nitrogen and phosphorus in the water draining into the Mississippi River contribute to the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Find out more about the new research and why applying liquid swine manure to soybeans must be stopped.

 

National Day of Action in Des Moines, May 17th

Local citizens said “No” to Keystone XL and “Yes” to clean energy

Central Iowans joined hands to ask the President and local officials to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and other dirty fuel projects that threaten our communities and destabilize our climate.

The event was one of hundreds of synchronized events with Hands Across the Sand/Land and other partners to raise awareness about the dangers of dirty fuels and the need to speed the transition to available, affordable clean energy solutions.

The National Day of Action is another manifestation of a growing movement demanding that our leaders act quickly and boldly to address climate change. It comes in the wake of the U. S. Department of State's recent announcement that it was extending its review of the pipeline, and the Reject & Protect encampment in Washington, DC which dramatically highlighted the opposition of farmers, ranchers and Native Americans who would be directly impacted by the pipeline, 

In early March, Keystone activists presented the Administration with over 2.5 million comments opposing the pipeline.

Draft Recreation Plan Comments Due April 15

The Iowa DNR held meetings last fall to gather information to develop a new 5-year outdoor recreation plan for Iowa.  The draft plan has been available for public comment and will be submitted to the National Park Service. See the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter's comments.

You can also download the Outdoor Recreation in Iowa Plan to see what DNR is recommending.  Beware: the document is 642 pages.

 

MidAmerican Scraps Nuclear Plant Plans

MidAmerican Energy announced on June 3, 2013, that it had decided against constructing a nuclear power plant in Iowa.  The energy company cited its reasoning as lack of an approved design for the modular nuclear plant it envisioned and too many questions about limits on carbon emissions from a natural gas plant.

Find out more.

EPC Takes No Action to Extend Ban of Manure on Soybeans

On October 16, 2012, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) decided not to permanently extend a rule banning the application of liquid swine manure to soybean fields. 

In 2006, then-EPC members passed a rule limiting the application of swine manure to soybeans at the rate of 100 pounds per acre, and completely banning the application in five years. The commissioners stipulated that further research would be examined at the end of five years to determine if scientific evidence supported a full ban.

The results of three studies presented to the EPC indicated a full ban should be implemented. All three studies conducted by Iowa State University indicate that nitrate concentrations are higher in waters draining from soybean fields where swine manure is applied than when the manure is applied only to corn.

EPC’s decision to do nothing results in continuation of the rule that the application of swine manure to soybeans will continue to be restricted to 100 pounds per acre.

Nitrogen and phosphorus in the water draining into the Mississippi River contribute to the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Find out more about the new research and why applying liquid swine manure to soybeans must be stopped.

 

Chapter Submits CAFO Comments to the EPA

 

EPA proposed a regulation that would collect information about concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). CAFOs are a significant source of nutrient pollution and pathogens in U.S. watersheds. The information that would be collected under the proposed rule would allow EPA to increase water quality protection through better implementation of the NPDES permitting program for CAFOs.  See more.

 

The Iowa Chapter submitted its comments to the EPA on December 19, 2011.

 

2012 Iowa Scientists: Drought Consistent with Climate Change

Iowans can expect more extreme weather like the 2012 drought thanks to changes in the climate caused by greenhouse gases. That’s according to a statewide group of Iowa scientists who believe that Iowans should act now to reduce economic costs due to climate change.  Find out more.

 

EPC Takes No Action to Extend Ban of Manure on Soybeans

On October 16, 2012, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) decided not to permanently extend a rule banning the application of liquid swine manure to soybean fields. 

In 2006, then-EPC members passed a rule limiting the application of swine manure to soybeans at the rate of 100 pounds per acre, and completely banning the application in five years. The commissioners stipulated that further research would be examined at the end of five years to determine if scientific evidence supported a full ban.

The results of three studies presented to the EPC indicated a full ban should be implemented. All three studies conducted by Iowa State University indicate that nitrate concentrations are higher in waters draining from soybean fields where swine manure is applied than when the manure is applied only to corn.

EPC’s decision to do nothing results in continuation of the rule that the application of swine manure to soybeans will continue to be restricted to 100 pounds per acre.

Nitrogen and phosphorus in the water draining into the Mississippi River contribute to the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Find out more about the new research and why applying liquid swine manure to soybeans must be stopped.

 

Taylors Honored by Sierra Club

Wally and Pam Mackey-Taylor of Marion recently received the national Sierra Club’s Susan E. Miller award at the Sierra Club’s annual meeting August 4 in San Francisco.  The Susan E. Miller Award honors exceptional contributions by individual Sierra Club members to chapters in organization or management.

Both Pam and Wally have volunteered their time in various capacities with the Chapter, including both of them serving as Iowa Chapter chairs at different times.  A Cedar Rapids attorney, Wally currently serves as Legal Chair.  Pam presently chairs the Fundraising committee and co-chairs the Energy committee with her husband, Wally.

Find out more.

 

Sierra Club Challenges Constitutionality of Legislative Rules Review Committee

On March 21, 2012, the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in Polk County District Court alleging that the Iowa Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) is unconstitutional. The Sierra Club alleges that the Iowa law creating the ARRC violates the separation of powers in the Iowa Constitution because it authorizes the ARRC, a legislative oversight committee, to suspend the implementation of an administrative rule legally adopted by the executive branch of government.

The rule being challenged in the lawsuit was adopted by the Natural Resource Commission in July 2011.  The Commission amended its dove-hunting season rule to ban the use of lead shot. The ARRC allowed the hunting season but delayed implementation of the ban on lead shot until legislators could address the ban during the 2012 legislative session.

“We have three separate and equal branches of government,” said Wally Taylor, the Cedar Rapids attorney representing the Sierra Club. “The legislative branch through the ARRC cannot constitutionally stop the actions of the executive branch acting through the Natural Resource Commission.”

In February, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution permanently prohibiting the ban on lead-based ammunition.  The Senate resolution has not yet been debated.

In addition to the Administrative Rules Review Committee, the lawsuit names the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for implementing the unconstitutional rule.

UPDATE:  Gov. Terry Branstad issued Executive Order 77 that rescinded the portion of the rule that banned lead-based ammunition to hunt Mourning Doves. Sierra Club will be dropping dropped its lawsuit against the ARRC. 

UPDATE: WATER QUALITY WINS IN COURT DECISION

In a ruling March 31, 2012, Polk County District Court Judge Mary Pat Gunderson ruled in favor of the environment and water quality.

“After more than 30 years, this antidegradation rule finally brings Iowa into compliance with the Clean Water Act,” said Wallace Taylor, the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter Legal Chair. "This rule was the product of almost three years of effort by the Department of Natural Resources working with the regulated community and environmental organizations to adopt a rule that is fair.”

A lawsuit, brought by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau), Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and Iowa Water Environment Association (IWEA), contended that an Environmental Protection Commission voted to approve a rule that will improve the quality of Iowa’s water resources is invalid because one of the commissioners had a conflict of interest and that another one wasn’t qualified to vote because she had recently moved out of state. The lawsuit also asserted the rule is more stringent than federal law because it protects Outstanding Iowa Waters.

Judge Gunderson ruled that although then-commissioner Carrie LaSeur, who had moved to Montana prior to the December 2009 vote, was not an elector of the state of Iowa as required by statute when she voted on the antidegradation rule, it didn’t matter because when LaSeur’s disqualification is simply a technical infirmity that does not go to the heart of her duties and her actions are valid.

The Farm Bureau, IRFA and IWEA claimed the rule is invalid, in part, because one of the Commissioners is a water quality advocate for one of the organizations that petitioned the EPC for rulemaking. Judge Gunderson ruled that “Susan Heathcote [who served on the commission in 2009] did not have a conflict of interest because the antidegradation rule finally adopted was not the one IEC, Sierra Club and Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association submitted [for rulemaking in 2007]; because she had no direct financial stake in the outcome; because the legislature established the EPC so commissioners would have expertise in certain areas; and because the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board cleared her for conflicts.”

Outstanding Iowa Waters protection also was victorious in today’s decision. Judge Gunderson ruled that the protections may or may not be more restrictive than the federal rule, but the EPC substantially complied with the notice requirement.

The Environmental Protection Agency approved Iowa’s Antidegradation rule and Antidegradation Implementation Procedure in September 2010.

Read the ruling.

 

Judge Rules Against Iowa Farm Bureau

On October 13, Polk County District Judge Brad McCall ruled that the Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) would not be required to hand over internal emails concerning the antidegradation rules to the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and the Iowa Water Environment Association as part of the three organizations’ lawsuit against the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Commission. The Iowa Farm Bureau and the other organization sought the emails to determine if Susan Heathcote, IEC’s Water Program Director, had used her position as an Environmental Protection Commission member to push the rule’s passage. The judge ruled that Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Iowa Water Environment Association had enough material from IEC to prepare their case. EPC and DNR filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asking that the case be decided in their favor without a trial. The judge ruled that Farm Bureau and its allies have until November 4, 2011, to file papers letting him know why the case should proceed to trial. Read the ruling.

 

Groups File Suit to Vacate Antidegradation Rule

 

UPDATE:  Judge Joel Novak ruled on February 3 to allow the Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club, the Iowa Environmental Council and the Environmental Law & Policy Center of the Midwest to intervene in the lawsuit filed by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and others.  Read the judge's ruling.

 

The Iowa Chapter filed a Petition to Intervene in the lawsuit filed by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Iowa Water Environment Association.  See our news release.

Five days after the Environmental Protection Agency notified the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that it had approved the DNR's Antidegradation Rule and Implementation Procedures, three organizations filed a lawsuit asking the judge to issue a stay on the rule.  Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Water Environment Association (formerly Iowa Water Pollution Control Association) and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association claim an illegal vote by one member of the Environmental Protection Commission (the body authorizing approval of the Iowa rule) and a conflict of interest by another member as grounds to vacate the rule

Find out about this lawsuit, the history of the antidegradation rule and more here....

EPC Chair Says "There are Two Sides to Every Fact"

David Petty, the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) chair, scolded Glori Dei Filippone, a 13-year-old girl, for being a vegetarian at the June 2011 EPC meeting.  Petty also warned Glori to be sure to have her facts straight because "...there are two sides to every fact."  Glori made a presentation to the Commission after petitioning the Department of Natural Resources to enact rules to regulate greenhouse gases in Iowa.  The EPC voted down the petition.  See the video shot by Kent Newman of Full Spectrum Productions.

See Glori's presentation.

Recreational Use Assessment and Attainability

 

Round Three 

 

The Environmental Protection Commission approved a Notice of Intended Action by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources proposing rulemaking to downgrade the recreational and warm water aquatic life use designations for approximately 408 river and stream segments.  

You can find a map of the proposed designations here.  You can also find a list that includes the county where the segment is located here.  You can also search for more detailed information with DNR's database by city, facility and stream.

Round Two 

DNR requested comments from the public on their recommendations to lower recreational use protections on 119 stream segments from the current primary contact recreational standard that protects for swimming, children’s play and other full body contact recreational uses (A1 and A3) to a less protective secondary contact recreational standard that only protects for incidental contact with the water (A2).

Click here for a map that shows the streams included in the second round of stream assessments.  The map is color-coded to show the DNR recommendations.  The stream segments shown in red or blue will get the highest recreational use protection (A1 or A3).  The streams shown in green are proposed to be downgraded to the lower secondary contact level of protection (A2).   

Find the UAA streams recommended for downgrading listed by county here...

The public comment period has ended and DNR currently is reviewing comments.  A responsiveness summary will be available in the next few months with DNR's final recommendations.

If you want to look at the actual UAA assessment data and rationale for the DNR recommendations, that is available on the DNR website at http://programs.iowadnr.gov/uaa/search.aspx.  This is a searchable database where you can search by stream name or permitted facility.  If you put the stream name in you will get all the streams with that name that have UAAs.  Sometimes there is more than one stream with the same name, so you need to be sure to pick the right stream.  

Additional information is available on the DNR website at http://www.iowadnr.gov/water/uaa.html .

  

 

Round 1 

 

The DNR released, and in late 2007 the Environmental Protection Commission approved, action to downgrade 292 streams.  This number represented approximately one third of the anticipated re-designations.

 

At its April 16, 2008, meeting, the Environmental Protection Commission approved the stream use designation rules, with amendments affecting 18 stream segments.  Under the amendments, A1 primary contact recreational designation to protect swimming and canoeing was retained for 8 stream segments and A3 primary contact children's recreational use was designated for 8 stream segments.  See the list of streams included in that decision here...

 

In May 2009, EPA approved revised Iowa water quality standards to support recreational activities and the protection of aquatic life. The approved water quality standards protect 83 water bodies in Iowa.  In November 2009, EPA approved 79 use designation changes and disapproved 71 use designation changes from Iowa’s August 2008 submittal of revised water quality standards. In June 2010, EPA approved the Iowa DNR's designated use changes for 64 water bodies and disapproved changes for 93 water bodies. Designated uses describe the achievable recreational activities and aquatic life uses in Iowa’s waters. EPA is finalizing action on the remaining 19 water bodies.

More information on EPA’s decisions can be found in letters to DNR available at http://www.epa.gov/region07/news_events/legal.  

 

Ask Congress to Restore the Clean Water Act!

The Midwest's streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands are in jeopardy.  Recent Supreme Court decisions have weakened the Clean Water Act, allowing an estimated 10,000 water bodies to lose federal pollution protection.  Unless Congress acts quickly to restore the Clean Water Act, more streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands will risk unregulated pollution and outright destruction. 

In Iowa alone, more than 62% of streams and up to 72% of the state’s prairie pothole wetlands could lose CWA safeguards.

This Earth Day, do your part to protect our nation's water.  Write your members of Congress and urge them to support the Clean Water Restoration Act.  Find a sample letter here.

Insights From Germany's Energy Transition

Sierra Club is proud to host informational meetings about the role of local energy cooperatives in creating economic opportunities in rural communities. Two German coop officials, Dr. Andreas Wieg from the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Federation in Berlin and Michael Diestel from Agrokraft, a rural electric cooperative in Bavaria, were in Iowa June 13-14 to discuss how renewable energy can revitalize entire communities. 

Michael Diestel (left) and Andreas Wieg (right) posed with Neila Seaman, Chapter director (next to Diestel), and Pam Mackey-Taylor, Chapter Energy chair, at the Energy Transition Insights from Germany event in Urbandale on 6/13/12.

 

 

Iowa Scientists Call for State Action on Climate Change

Scientists from across Iowa are calling on state officials to develop policy and take action to address the causes and effects of climate change in Iowa. Find out more.

 

Group Formed to Educate on Hazards of Lead

A new Iowa nonprofit group has been formed to educate people about the hazards of lead poisoning for the health of both humans and wildlife. The “Lead is Poison Coalition” includes individuals and groups from the fields of conservation, human health, and community action.  Find out more.

 

Earth Day 2010

This year, Earth Day was celebrated at the Forest Avenue Library on May 27.  A coalition of Sierra Club and Alaska Wilderness League volunteers organized an oil rig spill demonstration, birds of the Arctic kite flying and helped the children write letters to President Barack Obama asking him to protect the polar bear's home in the Arctic Ocean and the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  The letters were sent to the President on May 28, 2010.  Read two of the letters and see photographs from the event.

 

Judge Rules Against Iowa Farm Bureau  

On October 13, 2011, Polk County District Judge Brad McCall ruled that the Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) would not be required to hand over internal emails concerning the antidegradation rules to the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and the Iowa Water Environment Association as part of the three organizations’ lawsuit against the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Commission. The Iowa Farm Bureau and the other organization sought the emails to determine if Susan Heathcote, IEC’s Water Program Director, had used her position as an Environmental Protection Commission member to push the rule’s passage. The judge ruled that Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Iowa Water Environment Association had enough material from IEC to prepare their case. EPC and DNR filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asking that the case be decided in their favor without a trial. The judge ruled that Farm Bureau and its allies have until November 4, 2011, to file papers letting him know why the case should proceed to trial.  Read the ruling.

 

Brune at the 2010 Annual Dinner

 

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune was the featured speaker at this year's Iowa Chapter Annual Dinner held Friday, October 1.  Brune joined Iowa members on a cocktail cruise and addressed the dinner attendees.  Find out more about the night's events.

 

 

Commission Approves Proposed Dove Season Rules

 

The Natural Resource Commission of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources took the first step toward a mourning dove season Wednesday, when commissioners approved the proposed rules on a 5-to-2 vote.  Commissioners Elizabeth Garst and Janelle Rettig voted against the proposal. 

 

The proposed rules will now be available for public comment before the commission votes on their final approval, probably in June.  A public meeting has been scheduled for 1 p.m., May 24, in the fourth floor west conference room, Wallace Building in Des Moines.

 

The proposed season would begin Sept. 1, last for 70 days, have a daily bag limit of 15 doves, and possession limit of 30. The mourning dove season does not include Eurasian collard doves or white winged doves.

 

While the official rule making process is now under way, the Iowa DNR will be evaluating wildlife areas to potentially locate food plots that could enhance mourning dove hunting opportunities.

 

Since doves are native to every county in Iowa, hunters could also pursue doves on any of the public hunting wildlife areas.

 

Nationally, dove hunting is seen as important to the future of hunting because it is an easy sport to pick up, individuals with limited physical skills can participate even late into life, novices do not need expensive equipment and there is an easy learning curve.  A bonus is that the September to early November season would offer good weather.

 

The Iowa DNR, through almost 40 years of research, has stated there is no biological reason not to allow dove hunting as it is classified as a migratory game bird and is the number one game bird in the country, with an estimated population of nearly 500 million individuals.  It is the only game bird found in all of the lower 48 states and is a resident of every county in Iowa.

 

Mourning doves annual mortality rate is 6 out of 10, of which hunters account one and disease, weather and predators account for the other five. About 1 million hunters in the U.S. harvest between 17-20 million birds each year, which is about 5-7 percent of the population.  Doves offset this high death rate with a high birth rate.

 

In other news, commissioners unanimously approved a three year pilot program that would provide wildlife habitat on private land to landowners who voluntarily enrolled. 

 

The voluntary program run by the DNR would create, manage and enhance wildlife habitat on private land in exchange for allowing public access for hunting. 

 

Landowners who chose to participate could begin enrolling in the program as early as this summer.  Contracts would last from 3 to 10 years, and the land enrolled in the program would likely have signs posted, and maps to the location available on the DNR’s website.

 

Funding for this program is through a Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program Grant awarded to the DNR by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as from wildlife habitat fees designated by law for the development of public hunting opportunities.   

 

 

A WinA federal appeals court ruled April 17, 2009 that the Bush-era Interior Department failed to consider the effect on the environment and marine life before beginning the process in August 2005 to expand oil and gas leasing in the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi seas.  The appeals court ordered the department, now run by President Obama’s appointee Ken Salazar, to analyze the areas to determine environmental risks and potential damage before moving ahead with the leasing program. 

 

The seas off Alaska are home to wildlife including polar bears, whales, seals, walruses and seabirds.  The lawsuit was brought by three environmental groups that want to protect the ecosystem and Native Village of Point Hope, Alaska , that live off wildlife on the Chukchi Sea coast.

 

The American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s trade association which joined the lawsuit to defend the leasing program, said “it’s reviewing the implications.  In a statement: “Development in federal waters off the nation’s coast provides thousands of well-paying jobs, government revenues and the fuel needed to run America’s cars and factories, heat our homes and the feedstock needed to make the materials we use every day.”  Most domestic oil is put on the global market and does not benefit Americans. 

 

The Interior Department did not comment other than to say it was reviewing the decision.  Attorney William Snape, who argued the case for the environmentalists before the appeals court, said  species in the Arctic are already under significant environmental threat because of global warming.  He said “Interior Secretary Salazar has sent mixed signals on how he'll handle drilling in the outer continental shelf” but the ruling is a chance for the administration to protect sensitive areas.

 

 

Culver Steps Back in Time with Nuclear Energy Bill

Governor Chet Culver stepped back in time with his decision to sign HF2399, a bill that will allow MidAmerican Energy to charge its customers $15 million to study the feasibility of constructing a nuclear power plant in Iowa. 

“We are extremely disappointed that Gov. Culver signed this bill,” said Pam Mackey-Taylor, Iowa Chapter Energy chair.  “We already have one nuclear power plant operating in Iowa.  That’s enough.”

Sierra Club's position is that nuclear power does nothing to help us transition to a clean energy future.  Although nuclear power produces less CO2 than fossil alternatives, nuclear power is not safe, affordable, or clean with currently available technology and practices.  Mining uranium risks workers' health and creates toxic residues.  All current plant designs are complex, prone to accidents and have severe security vulnerabilities.  Nuclear waste transportation, storage and disposal problems remain unsolved.  The nuclear fuel cycle increases weapons proliferation and risk among nations and non-state entities.

“The industry is already heavily subsidized by public payments, incentives and liability shielding everywhere it operates,” said Debbie Neustadt, Iowa Chapter Legislative chair.  “These dependencies were dramatically increased in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.”    

Sierra Club and other environmental organizations mounted a campaign encouraging the Governor to veto HF2399.  More than 360 Sierra Club members sent messages to the governor while others called to express their opposition to nuclear power in Iowa.

 

Iowan Wins Seat on Sierra Club’s National Board of Directors

The Sierra Club Iowa Chapter proudly announces that Donna Buell of Spirit Lake has been elected to the national Sierra Club’s Board of Directors.  Buell received the second highest number of votes from Sierra Club members across the nation in this election.  She becomes the first Iowan ever to serve on the national board.

 

“As global warming legislation stands before Congress, we must seize this opportunity to lead our country to a sustainable climate recovery,” said Buell. “I look forward to contributing my rural farming heritage and appreciation for our agricultural land to the environmental expertise of the Sierra Club.” 

 

Buell was one of eight candidates for five seats on the board.

 

“The Chapter is thrilled that Donna has been elected to the board,” said Jerry Neff, chair of the Iowa Chapter Executive Committee.  “We’ve never had an Iowan represent the Sierra Club on its national board of directors since we organized in Iowa in 1972.  We’re very excited.”
       

Buell has served in various capacities with the Sierra Club at the local, state and national level.  In 2006, she organized the Prairie Lake Group that encompasses Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, O’Brian, Osceola, Palo Alto and Pocahontas counties and served as its chair.  Elected to the chapter executive committee, Buell has served as the chapter treasurer since 2008.    Nationally, she currently serves as Budget Officer of the Council of Club Leaders Executive Committee and on the National Finance and Risk Management Advisory Committee.

 

A volunteer for the environment for the past 20 years, Buell also served as a member of the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission from 2003 to 2007 as an appointee of then-Gov. Tom Vilsack.  

 

Congratulations, Donna!

 

ISU Student Government Passes Anti-Coal Resolution

Iowa State University's student body government voted unanimously last week to urge ISU administration to continue to decrease its use of coal energy and begin using cleaner energy.  Find out more.

 

Alliant Cancels Plans for Coal Plant

On March 5, 2009, Alliant Energy, parent company of Interstate Power & Light, announced it was canceling plans to build a massive coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown.  Citing a combination of factors including the current economic and financial climate, increasing environmental, legislative and regulatory uncertainty regarding regulation of future greenhouse gas emissions and the terms placed on the proposed power plant by regulators, Alliant announced it was canceling the project.

The stunning announcement is a huge victory for environmental and other organizations that have been organizing for two years in an effort to halt the project.

Read our news release IOWANS CAN BREATHE EASIER:  Alliant Energy Abandons Marshalltown Coal Plant Proposal

 

From the Iowa Department of Natural Resources:

IPL’S Marshalltown Facility Air Permit Application Withdrawn 

Media Contact: Chris Roling, DNR Construction Permits, (515) 242-6002 or Chris.Roling@dnr.iowa.gov 

MARSHALLTOWN —Due to a combination of factors, Alliant Energy/Interstate Power and Light decided to cancel construction plans for its Sutherland Generating Station Unit 4 coal-fired power plant project in Marshalltown. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has ended the comment period for the project’s air permit application and public hearings are cancelled. 

Documents for this project will continue to be available on the DNR Web site at http://aq48.dnraq.state.ia.us:8080/airpermit/eecomment.jsp for a few more days, and then they will be moved to http://aq48.dnraq.state.ia.us:8080/airpermit/eepsd.jsp.

 

ExCom Planning Retreat

The Iowa Chapter Executive Committee held a planning retreat in August at the Iowa Great Lakes. Although the committee members and staff made time for fun, the group worked very hard to plan for 2010 and beyond.  See pictures from the two-day retreat here...

 

 

Annual Awards Dinners

The Chapter has a long history of presenting awards.  Click here for a list of who previously has been honored.

 

2009 -- Annual Dinner held October 31.  The Sierra Club Iowa Chapter's Annual Dinner, Awards Celebration and Silent Auction was held October 31, 2009, in Davenport at the Best Western Steeple Gate Inn.  Davenport's Alderman at Large Gene Meeker served as keynote speaker and talked about what Davenport is doing as a Cool City and the city's future plans.  Awards were given to individuals who have done outstanding work to protect Iowa's environment.  See more about the 2009 dinner here...

 

2008 -- Awards Presented.  At its Annual Dinner and Awards Celebration in September, the Iowa Chapter presented awards to six individuals and one organization for their outstanding achievement in protecting the environment.  Click here to check out this year's winners.

 

2007 -- Awards Presented.  The annual luncheon of the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club was held at the Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center at Toddville on September 22, 2007.  MJ Hatfield spoke on “Defining Wildness, Let’s Take a Closer Look.”  

 

2006 -- Annual Awards Presented.  Five awards were presented at this year's Annual Gathering and Awards Celebration held October 15 in Johnston. Find out more here... 

 

2005 -- Iowa Annual Awards Presented.   On September 25, the Iowa Chapter presented five awards at its annual dinner in Fairfield.  Congratulations to all of them!  See who won here...

 

Sewage Bill Right to Know Passes House

The Sewage Right to Know bill (HR 2452) passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a voice vote June 23, 2009. If passed by the Senate and signed by the president, this bill will require publicly owned treatment works to monitor their systems for spills and then alert the public when there is the potential to affect public health. There are currently no such requirements nationwide. These new requirements will be incorporated into discharge permits.  Iowa currently requires treatment facilities to notify the Department of Natural Resources spills 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.

Outstanding Iowa Waters List

The Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC), a legislative oversight committee, directed the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop a regulatory analysis regarding DNR's proposed Outstanding Iowa Waters list included in the antidegradation rule package.

The OIW list includes six lakes in Dickinson County (including Lake Okoboji pictured below) and 32 stream segments in northeast Iowa.

DNR concluded that dischargers proposing to add pollution to Outstanding Iowa Waters would result in not more than $50,000 per year (the difference between paying for a general use permit as they do now, to paying for an individual permit), that the costs related to limits on new or expanding wastewater discharges into OIWs from municipalities or industries is "not expected to be overly burdensome;" and there may also be increased economic development as a result of marketing benefits associated with waters classified as Outstanding Iowa Waters.

The DNR also acknowledged the economic benefits might be realized by increased tourism, increased recreational uses of the waters, and protection of these resources for future generations. 

See the proposed list of Outstanding Iowa Waters here... and maps of the Outstanding Iowa Waters in Dickinson County and Northeast Iowa

The ARRC will discuss the regulatory analysis at its November 10 meeting.  Please consider contacting the ARRC members and let them know that you want your waters protected. 

 

Round Two – Recreational  Use Assessment and  Attainability  

DNR requested comments from the public on their recommendations to lower recreational use protections on 119 stream segments from the current primary contact recreational standard that protects for swimming, children’s play and other full body contact recreational uses (A1 and A3) to a less protective secondary contact recreational standard that only protects for incidental contact with the water (A2).

Click here for a map that shows the streams included in the second round of stream assessments.  The map is color-coded to show the DNR recommendations.  The stream segments shown in red or blue will get the highest recreational use protection (A1 or A3).  The streams shown in green are proposed to be downgraded to the lower secondary contact level of protection (A2).   

Find the UAA streams recommended for downgrading listed by county here...

The public comment period has ended and DNR currently is reviewing comments.  A responsiveness summary will be available in the next few months with DNR's final recommendations.

If you want to look at the actual UAA assessment data and rationale for the DNR recommendations, that is available on the DNR website at http://programs.iowadnr.gov/uaa/search.aspx.  This is a searchable database where you can search by stream name or permitted facility.  If you put the stream name in you will get all the streams with that name that have UAAs.  Sometimes there is more than one stream with the same name, so you need to be sure to pick the right stream.  

Additional information is available on the DNR website at http://www.iowadnr.gov/water/uaa.html .

 

2008 Floods 

The Iowa floods devastated tens of thousands of Iowans.  Click here for flood recovery resources, photographs and links to why we are experiencing such severe storms.

 

 

New Infestation of Emerald Ash Borer Discovered in Wisconsin  

Following the discovery of a new infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) just across the Mississippi River from the Iowa-Wisconsin border, members of the Iowa Emerald Ash Borer Team have highlighted steps being taken to prevent an infestation in Iowa and detect the beetle if it is in the state.

Read more about the Emerald Ash Borer here…

Click here for frequently asked questions about the Emerald Ash Borer.

 

Sierra Club Green Home Simplifies Sustainable Living, Bringing Green Within Reach  

New Web Site Serves as a Comprehensive Resource and Educational Tool for Greening the Home

Sierra Club Green Home (SCGH) recently launched its new Web site, www.sierraclubgreenhome.com, designed to educate Americans on how to make their homes more energy efficient, environmentally sustainable and healthy.  Created with Sierra Club— America ’s oldest, largest, and best-known environmental organization—SCGH aims to help aspirationally green citizens become more environmentally-conscious.   

 

Mercury Rule Update

On Feb. 8, 2008, a federal appeals court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency violated the Clean Air Act in its Clean Air Mercury Rule by evading mandatory cuts in mercury pollution by coal- and oil-fired power plants.  Read the court's ruling here...

 

Schedule an Arctic Presentation

Iowa Chapter Executive Committee member Phyllis Mains recently traveled to Alaska and hiked in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  You can see some of her magnificent photographs here...  Phyllis is also available to do presentations about the Arctic for your group.  For more information, contact Phyllis at pmains@juno.com.

Reports Released

 

The National Parks Conservation Association recently released its report "Dark Horizons: 10 National Parks Most Threatened by New Coal-Fired Power Plants."  The 10 parks include Badlands (South Dakota), Capitol Reef (Utah), Great Basin (Nevada), Great Smoky Mountains (Tennessee and North Carolina), Mammoth Cave (Kentucky), Mesa Verde (Colorado), Shenandoah (Virginia), Theodore Roosevelt (North Dakota), Wind Cave (South Dakota) and Zion (Utah).  Read the report here...

 

Two national organizations recently released reports on industrial agriculture.  

 

The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) was formed to conduct a comprehensive, fact-based and balanced examination of key aspects of the farm animal industry.  Read its recently released report titled Putting Meat on The Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America.   

 

In its report, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analyzed  policies that have facilitated the growth of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and the enormous costs imposed on society by CAFOs.  Read the UCS report titled CAFOs Uncovered: The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations.

 

 

 

COAL PLANT UPDATE

 

At its meeting April 30, two of the three members of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) voted to approve a new coal plant proposed by Alliant Energy for Marshalltown.  The IUB members placed conditions on their approval requiring the co-firing of biomass with coal as a fuel source (5 percent by 2013 and 25 percent by 2018), additional wind generation and the right to require Alliant to use carbon capture and sequestration when the technology becomes feasible.  See our news release here...

 

 

 

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 

On December 6, 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the Arctic National Wildlife Range. The Range would later be doubled in size and renamed the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under President Carter, but it was Eisenhower who began the bipartisan legacy of arctic conservation. According to Fred Seaton, the Secretary of the Interior under Eisenhower, the Arctic Refuge "offers the only opportunity for this Nation to preserve an undisturbed portion of the Arctic large enough to be biologically self-sufficient."

 

 

The Dirty Truth About Coal

From mining to burning to combustion wastes, using coal for electricity scars lungs, tears up the land, pollutes water, devastates communities, and makes global warming worse. Learn about coal's dirty secrets that have serious societal and economic consequences in Sierra Club's brand new report, "The Dirty Truth about Coal: Why Yesterday's Technology Should Not Be Part of Tomorrow's Energy Future."
Read the report.

 

 

 

Clean Power Comes on Strong

How Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Can Fuel Our Future

 

We have the potential to produce almost all of our electricity from clean energy sources.  Today, we have the technology and the know-how to move beyond our dependence on polluting power plants by using clean, safe and affordable renewable energy.  By harnessing renewable sources of energy like the sun and the wind, we can transform how we produce electricity.

 

Find out more here...

Download the "Clean Energy Comes on Strong" factsheet  here...

 

Liquid Coal is a Bad Deal for Global Warming

Although its proponents claim that liquid coal is a cure-all to our nation's energy problems, the truth is that liquid coal is plagued with economical and environmental downsides from the time coal is mined until long after the liquid is burned. Liquid coal releases almost double the global warming emissions per gallon as regular gasoline, making a hybrid filled with liquid coal as dirty as a Hummer H3 running on regular gas.

Liquid coal also requires huge amounts of water, and would lead to an over 40% increase in coal mining just to replace a mere 10% of our nation's transportation fuels. Proponents of liquid coal also want the government to funnel billions in subsidies and tax breaks to artificially create an entirely new industry. Liquid coal is arguably the dirtiest, most expensive energy gamble we could take.

Download Sierra Club's fact sheet, "Liquid Coal: A Bad Deal for Global Warming here...

 

Tick Season

It's tick season again.  Click here to find out how you can protect yourself, your family and your pets from Lyme Disease and other problems associated with ticks.

 

Genetic Engineering and Bee Collapse Disorder

"One out of every three bites of food that we consume is due to the work of honeybees, serving as crucial pollinators in agriculture and farming communities," wrote Laurel Hopwood, chair of the Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Committee, in a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee.  "Yet agriculture and food production may be severely impacted by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a trend documented in honey bee colonies .... Beekeepers are reporting estimates as high as 80% loss of their honey bee colonies..."

Read Laurel's letter here...

 

Legislative Pressure 

"...I'm just trying to take a stand and represent my people the way I want to..."

-Rep. Dawn Pettengill (D-Mt. Auburn) in The Des Moines Register, March 28, 2007

"You will know by the time you get this letter that I’ve joined the Republican House caucus."

Rep. Dawn Pettengill wrote to House Speaker Pat Murphy (D-Dubuque) after announcing April 30, 2007, that she was switching parties.

 

Iowa's Impaired Waters 

On November 14, 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partially approved and partially disapproved the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Final 2004 List of Impaired Waters.  EPA disapproved Iowa’s decision not to list 20 waterbodies and associated pollutants. EPA proposed adding six waterbodies that DNR had removed from the list, and adding 14 new waterbodies and associated pollutants. 

 

 

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 

The Senate voted 51-49 on March 16 to take the first step toward drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of the Federal Budget Resolution. Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin voted for the amendment while Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley voted against it.   The vote...

 

CAIR/CAMR 

At its May 15, 2006 meting, the Environmental Protection Commission approved the Department of Natural Resources proposed Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and the Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR).  The Environmental Protection Agency promulgated the rules in 2005.  Sierra Club opposed the CAMR because it involves trading mercury pollution credits.  The rules now go to the Administrative Rules Review Committee, a legislative oversight committee, for final approval.  Learn more about the mercury rule here...

Read more about the lawsuit here...

 

Polar Bears Threatened

The US Department of the Interior announced on December 27, 2006, that it was recommending that the polar bear be officially listed at "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. Citing the growing body of evidence that receding sea ice threatens the existence of the Arctic bears, Secretary Kempthorne stated "based on current analysis, there are concerns about the effect of receding sea ice on polar bear populations...I am directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to aggressively work with the public and the scientific community over the next year to broaden our understanding of what is happening with the species..."

The proposal to officially list the polar bear as "threatened" can be found at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's website.

 

President Bush Lifts Ban on Oil Drilling in Fragile Alaska Waters

On January 9, 2007, President Bush exercised his executive authority to lift the ban on drilling off the southwest coast of Alaska in the fragile, salmon-rich waters of Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay, one of the world's most productive marine systems for fish, marine mammals and migratory birds, has enjoyed federal protection since the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.  

 

EPA Proposes Revised CAFO Rule

EPA is proposing to revise the NPDES permitting requirements and Effluent Limitations Guidelines for CAFOs in response to the order issued by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Waterkeeper Alliance et al. v. EPA. 

This proposed rule weakens the goal of restoring and maintaining the nation's water quality and ensuring that CAFOs properly manage manure generated by their operations.  Comments are due to the EPA on August 14.  

A public hearing on the proposed rule will be held in Ames on Tuesday, July 25, 2006, from 9 a.m. to noon at Iowa State Center’s Scheman Conference Center.  Sierra Club members are encouraged to attend and submit comments.  Contact Neila.Seaman@sierraclub.org for more information.

Find out more about the proposed rule here…  

 

Water Quality Standards Rules Pass

At its March 13 meeting, the Administrative Rules Review Committee (a bipartisan, legislative oversight committee) passed the DNR's water quality standards rule package.  The rules now go to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

 

Arctic Refuge Drilling Threatened ... Again

On May 25, 2006, the House approved by a narrow margin (225-201) to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Read more...

 

Is Your Home Cool? 

Walk through a real house on our Cool Home Tour with Sierra magazine's answer man, Mr. Green, and you'll learn how to have a "cool" house, save money, and help chip away at a problem facing us all. Download Mr. Green's Cool Home Checklist and tour your own abode to see what you're doing right and where you have room to improve. It's a great way to celebrate Earth Day.

 

2006 Earth Day

Across the country, 224 mayors representing more than 43 million people in 39 states have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement -- the first step to becoming a "Cool City." Frustrated by lack of action on the federal level, local leaders are moving forward with innovative energy solutions that cut our dependence on oil, benefit public health, and save taxpayer dollars.

Visit Sierra Club's new Cool Cities web site to see what cities are included. 

 

Is Your Tuna Family-Safe? 

Defenders of Wildlife's ground-breaking study shows that the FDA and EPA's light canned tuna recommendations do not adequately protect the American public from high levels of mercury. Find out more here...

 

Sierra Club Responds to Ethanol Projects Proposed for Des Moines' Agrimergent Technology Park

At a special meeting held November 1, the Des Moines City Council reviewed two proposals for ethanol plants to be constructed in  the city's Agrimergent Technology Park in southeast Des Moines.

Lincolnway Energy proposed a 100 million gallon per year coal-fired plant while Vision Fuels proposed a 110 million gallon per year natural gas-fired plant. The Council members stalemated with three votes going to each proposal.  

The Council directed City Manager Richard Clark to negotiate its concerns for coal versus natural gas, neighborhood participation in the process and the financial impact to the city regarding the franchise fee on natural gas.

Sierra Club responded to the Mayor, City Council and City Manager with a letter addressing its concerns.  Read the letter here...

UPDATE:  Lincolnway Energy withdrew its proposal for a 100 million gallon per year, coal-fired ethanol plant in Des Moines.  Read about it here...

 

CAFO rule proposed 

At its December 19, 2005, meeting, Environmental Protection Commissioners heard information on  a  rule amendment regarding department evaluation; denial of or condition of construction permits or disapproval or modification of MMPs for confinement feeding operations.  The Legislature passed SF 2377 that would prohibit any action by the DNR until after a facility is in operation.  Sierra Club opposed this bill and asked the governor to veto it.  

UPDATE:  Gov. Vilsack vetoed the bill on May 31, 2006.  The rule now goes before the Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) at its August meeting.  The Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club supports the ARRC passing the rule as it is presented to the committee.

UPDATE: The ARRC formally objected to the rule at its August 2006 meeting.  The objection leaves the rule open to legal challenge forcing the DNR to prove the rule is in compliance with state law.

 

The Water Quality Standards Issues

In its responsiveness summary from the WQS hearings in October, DNR addressed commenter issues.  See a condensed version of those responses here...

Read water quality standards hearing comments and responsiveness summary here...

 

Senate Passes Water Quality Bill

On March 16, 2006, the Iowa Senate unanimously approved SF 2363 with Senate Amendment 5080.  The Iowa Chapter opposes the bill because it's unnecessary and could provide limitations to implementing the rules as passed by the ARRC three days earlier.  Read the bill and the amendment here...

 

Loess Hills Featured in Sierra Magazine

If you haven't seen it yet, check out the Sierra Magazine's March/April 2005 issue and read about the Loess Hills, they're unique geology found only in Iowa and in China and much more.  Click here for the article...

 

Arctic Refuge Drilling Stopped in the House - Bipartisan Opposition to Including Arctic in Budget Prevails

The Sierra Club expressed cautious optimism as bipartisan pressure to keep the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge out of the budget prevailed in the House. Read more...

 

 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Muir  The great man's birthday is April 21, but most folks are so focused on Earth Day that they forget to honor his memory. As the founding president of the Sierra Club, Muir was instrumental in the creation of Yosemite National Park and is considered by many to be the father of the conservation movement in America. Learn more about the man at our John Muir Exhibit Web site.

 

 

 

 


 

Superfund Notification Victory for Iowa City

The Iowa-Illinois Manor Apartment Building in Iowa City houses hundreds of college students.  Since it was built in 1983, every month, students signed new leases to live in this building not knowing that they were going to reside on top of a Superfund toxic waste
Read more....

 

Sierra Club Joins Others in Letter to EPA   In April 2004, the Sierra Club,  Iowa Chapter joined the Midwest Environmental Justice Advocates , Iowa Environmental Council and Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association in sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting intervention with Iowa's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) water quality policies.   Read the letter...

 

Lyme Disease -- Kathy Cuddeback, who with her husband, Larry, have been Washington County farmers since 1980, was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in 1993.  Knowledgeable Lyme physicians believe she was first infected in 1977 while working in KY and TN. She struggles with 15 symptoms including chronic spinal pain, seizures, tourettes, memory loss, tremors, and speech loss.  Of Kathy and Larry's three children, their  severely handicapped middle daughter, has been diagnosed with congenital Lyme disease.  Read more about Lyme disease...

 

Volunteer Feature -- Jack Eastman, vice-chair of the Chapter's Leopold Group, actively volunteers his time in southeast Iowa.  He was recently featured in an Iowa Sierran article written by Larry Stone.  Read more about Jack...


Sierra Club Launches its... "True Cost of Food" Campaign -- The United States, with less than 5% of the world’s people, consumes over twenty-five percent.... Read more....

 

Clean Water Rules Update  Find out more...

 

Clean Water Rules Update --The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established an April 2005 deadline for the DNR and other states’ agencies to start implementing the Clean Water Act for livestock facilities. The DNR planned to do the minimum work required to meet the new federal requirements, but a recent Circuit Court ruling means DNR will have to do better.  Learn more...

 

Mercury, Fish and Your Family -- The Iowa Chapter reached out to help educate Iowa's Asian population about the dangers of mercury consumption by the fish they eat.  See our message in English, Lao, Vietnamese and Cambodian here...

See our Spanish-language brochure here...

 

Intrepid Wind Farm Tour  In November 2005, MidAmerican Energy hosted a tour of its Intrepid wind farm in Sac County for environmentalists.  See photographs of the tour here...

 

In Iowa Courts  See the status of environmental cases working their way through the Iowa court system.   Read more...