Sierra Club Home Page

IOWA CHAPTER

 

 

In the Iowa Legislature

 


Iowa General Assembly 

Find your legislator

Bills the Iowa Chapter followed that passed during the 2011 Legislative Session

 

Dove Hunting

Final approval of a rule that will allow the hunting of mourning doves in Iowa was approved July 14 by the Iowa Natural Resource Commission which also added an amendment that would require hunters to use non-toxic shot.

The amendment, introduced by Conrad Clement, a recent Branstad-appointee to the commission, said he had spoken with Gov. Branstad at 6 a.m. that morning and received the governor's blessing as long as there was consensus among the commissioners.  However, The National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action put out an action alert wanting members to ask Gov. Branstad to overrule the commission's decision.

The rules approved by the commission allow for a dove season starting Sept. 1st and ending Nov. 9th. The final rule allows the harvest of 15 doves a day and can be either mourning or Eurasian collared-doves. The possession limit is 30 and the season is open state-wide.

See Mary Brubaker's comments before the commission.

 

Dove Hunting Bill Fast-Tracked Through Legislature

Rep. Richard Arnold (R-Lucas) filed an amendment to a raccoon hunting bill that completely gutted references to raccoons and completely replaced the language  prior to adoption to hunt mourning doves.  Read what happened and see how the House voted.

 

 

Gov. Terry Branstad signed the dove hunting bill on March 24, 2011.

The Legislature's Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) heard a briefing from the DNR about a dove hunting season on May 10.

Watch Chapter Director Neila Seaman's comments at the ARRC meeting.

Listen to the discussion and public comments -- including the Sierra Club.

Read Chapter Director Neila Seaman's comments to the committee.

DNR to plant “food plots” to lure doves for hunters -- Radio Iowa, 5/11/11.

DNR wants legislators to call the shots on new hunting restriction -- Radio Iowa, 5/11/11.

State officials urged to ban lead shot ammo for dove hunting -- The Des Moines Register, 5/11/11.

Proposed Sept. 1 Iowa dove hunting season remains on track -- Cedar Rapids Gazette, 5/11/11.

Download, print and post a "No Hunting" sign to protest your opposition to dove hunting in Iowa.

US Fish & Wildlife Service "Mourning Dove Population Status, 2010."

A recent study by PLoS ONE in the United Kingdom shows that game birds that have been shot with lead shot and cooked for food have above the allowable level of lead.  Read the study "Exposure to Lead in Game."

 

 

Nuclear Power Bill

Some see support eroding for Iowa’s nuclear power plant bill -- IowaPolitics.com, 5/10/11

TV Ad Challenges Nuclear Bill

Friends of the Earth recently released a TV ad opposing legislation that would allow MidAmerican Energy to raise electric rates in order to pay for new nuclear reactors—and allow MidAmerican to keep the money regardless of whether the new reactors are actually constructed.

See the ad, which begins with stirring images of the disaster at Fukushima and is titled “Iowa’s Nuclear Risk.”

The 30-second ad, which aired in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets, explains that the bill “isn’t just unfair; it’s dangerous.” Friends of the Earth opposes nuclear reactor construction because of the risks of a nuclear accident, highlighted recently by the ongoing disaster in Japan, and the deadly waste produced by the irradiation process, as well as the high financial and economic costs.

Senate Subcommittee Hears More About Nuclear Power Bill

A Senate Subcommittee held a meeting March 28 to hear from opponents and supporters of a bill that would allow MidAmerican Energy to charge ratepayers for a nuclear power plant that may never be built.  Find out more.

 

Senators Question Moving Forward with Nuclear Bill

Nine Iowa Senators wrote to their colleagues expressing their concern about a bill that would enable MidAmerican Energy to charge ratepayers for a nuclear power plant that may or may not be built.  Read the letter.

 

See how the House voted on HF561.

 

 

CNN Features Bills Regulating Videotaping Animal Factories

HF589, which passed the Iowa House on March 17 and is on the Senate debate calendar, would prohibit videotaping animal factories.  See CNN's story about Iowa's bill and attempts by Minnesota and Florida to pass comparable legislation.

 

Branstad Backpedals on EPC Appointments

The Iowa Chapter sent a letter to Iowa Senators after it was discovered that Gov. Terry Branstad appointed too many Republicans to the Environmental Protection Commission.  Read the letter for more information.

 

The Governor then rescinded the re-appointment of Eugene VerSteeg.  Branstad has not yet announced who will be appointed.

 

 

The Iowa Chapter submitted comments to the Iowa House opposing HF 45 (Taxpayers First).  Read the comments.

How did your legislator vote on environmental issues during

the 83rd Iowa General Assembly?

See the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter's 2009-2010 Legislative Scorecard

Information from the Iowa Senate Democrats

Information from the Iowa Senate Republicans

Information from the Iowa House Democrats

Information from the Iowa House Republicans

Senate Democrats Public Forum Schedule

House Democrats Public Forum Schedule

Home

Last Updated 10/12/2011


ARRC Fails to Support Lead Ban in Dove Hunting

The Iowa Natural Resource Commission (NRC) gave its final approval to a rule to allow the hunting of Mourning Doves on July 14. In a surprise move, the NRC also added an amendment that would require hunters to use non-toxic ammunition.

The amendment, introduced by Conrad Clement, a recent Branstad-appointee to the commission, said he had spoken with Gov. Branstad at 6 o’clock that morning and received the governor's blessing as long as there was consensus among the commissioners. The NRC unanimously passed the amendment. However, the National Rifle Association (NRA) put out an action alert urging members to ask Gov. Branstad to overrule the commission's amendment to ban lead shot.

Although Mourning Doves have been protected since 1918, they are no longer protected in Iowa. Senate File 464 passed the Senate by a vote of 30-18 on March 22. The House, with some circuitous maneuvering by Rep. Rich Arnold (R-Russell), passed the bill 58-39 on March 23. Gov. Branstad signed the bill into law March 24. It was a stunning achievement.

The bill required the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to immediately begin rulemaking so hunters could have their first shot at the Mourning Doves just over four months after the bill passed. DNR wrote the rule and opened a comment period, the Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) reviewed the rule May 10 and the NRC approved the amendment and then approved the rule by a 6-1 vote (Janelle Rettig voted no) on July 14. Yet another stunning achievement since the rulemaking process generally takes months to complete.

The ARRC, a legislative oversight committee on rulemaking, reversed the NRC’s decision to ban lead ammunition for dove hunting in August. The Legislature is expected to address the issue during the 2012 session.

The Chapter continues to oppose the hunting of Mourning Doves in Iowa. However, the very least elected officials can do is require non-toxic ammunition.

 

Session Ends!

The 2011 Legislative Session ended June 30, 2011, two months later than scheduled.  Keep reading for updates on legislative action.

 

Federal AQ Rule Still Applies Even After Branstad Rescinds Iowa Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed standards for hazardous air pollutants (HAP) from existing stationary diesel engines, also known as the Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine (RICE) rules, in March 2010.  Affected facilities have until May 2013 to comply with the rule.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) presented a Notice of Intended Action to the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) to begin rulemaking at its May 2010 meeting.  The measure passed.  After a public comment period, the EPC passed the final rule in September 2010 and it became effective in February 2011.

On March 9, 2011, Senators Bartz, Johnson, Kettering, Hahn, Sodders, Behn, Ragan, Hamerlinck, Bacon, Kibbie, Gronstal, Schoenjahn, Rielly, Kapucian, Boettger, Feenstra, Beall, Chelgren, Hancock, Wilhelm, Seymour, Dandekar, McKinley, Ernst, Fraise and Sorenson introduced Senate Resolution 7 urging EPA to nullify RICE rules.  The resolution passed the Senate by a voice vote on April 7, 2011.

House Resolution 37 was introduced April 8, 2011, by Representatives Pettengill, Kaufmann, Sands, J. Smith, Alons, Iverson, Watts, Shaw, Heaton, Baudler, Tjepkes, Drake, Schultz, Baltimore, Byrnes, Horbach, Rasmussen, Soderberg, Grassley, Paustian, Dolecheck, Chambers, Vander Linden, Muhlbauer, Hein, Wittneben, Rayhons, Windschitl, Wenthe, Moore, Thomas, De Boef, Deyoe, Fry, Massie and Quirk.  House Resolution 37 replicated Senate Resolution 7.  The House had not acted on the Resolution as of June 29, 2011.

Gov. Terry Branstad issued Executive Order 72 on April 4, 2011, rescinding the Iowa rule Implementing RICE.  Branstad cited, among other things, that the standard “…imposes unnecessary and crippling costs on small Iowa municipal utilities,” that “…some Iowa municipal utilities have found that the unnecessary, increased regulatory burden could cost their consumers…” and that the “…standards may make it cost prohibitive for some utilities to maintain and operate emergency engines, jeopardizing the security of the national power grid…”   Gov. Branstad then sent a letter to Lisa Jackson, U.S. EPA Director on April 5, 2011, indicating his concerns.

On June 13, 2011, EPA Director Jackson responded to Gov. Branstad  indicating that the EPA would review Gov. Branstad’s letter, and comments submitted by Pat Stief, General Manager of the municipal utility in Traer, Iowa, and inform the governor of the EPA’s decision.  EPA will also post its decision on its website.

As a result of the Governor’s action, Iowa DNR no longer has full delegated authority for the RICE rule. The federal RICE rule remains in effect and EPA is still implementing the standard. The federal compliance date for most existing stationary diesel engines of May 3, 2013, remains in effect under federal regulation.1

1 http://www.iowadnr.gov/air/prof/NESHAP/

 

UPDATE:  Session Ends With More Cuts to DNR, REAP

SF509, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship/Department of Natural Resource appropriations bill, finally passed both chambers on June 27.  General Fund appropriations to the DNR total $12,266,688 "[f]or purposes of supporting the department, including its divisions, for administration, regulation, and programs; for salaries, support, maintenance, and miscellaneous purposes; and for not more than 1,145.95 full-time equivalent positions.

 Although Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) is legislatively approved to receive not more than $20,000 million per year, the 2011-2012 budget appropriates $12,000,000.  REAP received $15,000,000 for fiscal year 2010-2011.

 

UPDATE:  Nuclear Power Bill Still Alive in the Senate

Although the Legislature has ended its 2011 session, bills could come back for debate during the 2012 session.

Two bills would make it easier for utilities to build nuclear power plants. SF390 and HF561.

The bills enable MidAmerican Energy to begin charging ratepayers for a nuclear power plant that may never be built.

What would a deal with MidAmerican Energy mean for you?

  • MidAmerican Energy is exploring new technology for nuclear reactors that will not be approved until 2013 -- or maybe not at all.
  • Ratepayers would bear 100 percent of the risk.
  • Consumers' electricity bills would rise by a minimum of 10 percent for each $1 billion MidAmerican spent beginning as soon as is legally possible.
  • The average household would see at least a $7 per month increase for each $1 billion MidAmerican Energy invested.
  • Ratepayers would be forced to pay all costs including licensing, construction and production and any litigation costs or expenses incurred even if the project is canceled.
  • MidAmerican Energy's calculations do not even include operating costs.

Learn more about SF390 and the consequences of it being adopted.

 

House Passes Nuclear Power Bill

On the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, the Iowa House of Representatives adopted HF561 setting the stage for MidAmerican Energy to proceed with plans to build a nuclear power facility at an undisclosed location.  Read more about the nuclear power debate.  See how House members voted.

Visit the Iowa Chapter's Nuclear Power page and learn more about nuclear energy.

 

The Senate Appropriations Committee met April 21, 2011.

 

No Senate Action on "Ag Gag" bill

 

On March 17, the House passed by a vote of 66-27 on HF589, also known as the "ag gag bill."

 

The bill would have prohibited entering on or damaging property associated with a facility or operation where animals or crops are maintained; prohibit tampering with property associated with an animal facility or crop operation, including damaging property, killing or injuring an animal or crop, committing theft, or disrupting operations; prohibit a person from interfering with an animal facility or crop operation. including producing an audio or visual record which reproduces an image distributing the record; prohibit committing fraud by obtaining access to an animal facility or crop operation by false pretenses for the purpose of committing an act not authorized by the owner, or making a false statement as part of an application to be employed at the location.  Because the House passed the bill, it could come up in the Senate in 2012.

 

 

UPDATE: House passed bill to move DNR water quality programs to IDALS; Senate didn't consider

 

HF643 (formerly HSB180) is a bill Gov. Terry Branstad and some legislators wanted adopted because agricultural practices are the primary source of non-point source water pollution in Iowa.  Section 319/Clean Water Act programs include compliance functions, water monitoring and other water quality protection programs.

 

This bill never made it out of the senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee.  However, it could reappear during the 2012 session.

 

History:  The bill passed the House on March 23rd and IOWATER (Iowa's volunteer water monitoring program) could be at riskIowa's impaired waters list and improvement plan processes could be drastically altered so improvements could take years or decades.  More than $4.4 million in 319 water quality programming would be transferred to an agency whose primary function is to serve and promote agriculture. See for yourself how all of the 319 programs are interconnected and the DNR's budget for fiscal year 2010.

Legislators were told water quality programming could be done "more efficiently" if given to the Secretary of Agriculture. If this responsibility is abdicated to the Secretary of Agriculture, all current DNR water rules would have to be rescinded and new processes started to adopt IDALS rules. Each rule making procedure is a multi-year process and IDALS has no oversight commission.  All EPA funds would have to be de-obligated from DNR and new contracts written with IDALS.

This legislation is totally unnecessary and clearly demonstrates a lack of fiscal accountability by elected officials whose campaigns promised fiscal responsibility.

Find out more about what this bill does to the destruction of Iowa's water programs.

 

HF45 Update. 

Iowa Senators stripped the bill of the four issues that concerned Sierra Club:

 

  • Prohibiting the Department of Natural Resources from acquiring or entering into agreement for acquiring public lands.
  • Reducing funding for REAP.
  • Abandoning Smart Planning legislation approved during the previous General Assembly.
  • Reneging on a promise to Iowans to commit to rail transportation from Davenport to Iowa City and a Dubuque train station.

The full Senate passed the amended bill 48-1 on February 17 and sent it back to the House.  The House then adopted the Senate version on February 21 by a vote of 95-0.  The Governor signed the bill March 8 after vetoing the sunset date of the Legislative Health Care Coverage Commission.  Read the signed bill.

Thank you to everyone who contacted your Senator and encouraged a "no" vote on HF45.  Congratulations on this first victory of the legislative session!

 

2011 Iowa Chapter Priorities:                                        

ENERGY/CLIMATE CHANGE—The Iowa Chapter’s legislative energy and climate change priorities continue to include promotion of renewable energy solutions and distributed generation through feed-in tariffs.  During the last session, a property assessed clean energy bill (PACE) was introduced but never made it to debate.  We will continue to support PACE; but with it in limbo at the federal level, it seems unlikely anything will happen with it in Iowa.  Although the 83rd General Assembly approved $10 million in funding for passenger rail projects between Davenport and Iowa City and received another $300,000 plus in TIGER funds returned by Wisconsin and Minnesota, newly inaugurated Governor Terry Branstad is considering canceling the project and returning the TIGER funds.  In addition, the Chapter supports green building code changes, a solar energy rebate program, feed-in tariff legislation and a burn ban of residential waste. The Chapter will actively oppose any bills that encourage nuclear power.  

 

WATER QUALITY—Defensive efforts to stop the Legislature from weakening water quality laws and new antidegradation rules will again be one of the Chapter’s priorities.  Historically, we have experienced surprise legislative attacks to weaken existing water quality protections and enforcement.  Threats include the elimination of the Environmental Protection Committee and drastic budget cuts for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Chapter will support legislation that helps keep water on the land through Smart Planning and other floodplain management principles.

 

CAFOs—Every session, the Chapter must employ defensive efforts to stop the legislature from weakening  existing legislation and DNR rules that regulate the operation of CAFOs, including a recent ban on the spreading of manure on snow-covered or frozen ground.  The Chapter supports legislation that calls for local control of CAFO siting, a moratorium on new construction of CAFOs, that reduces the density of concentrated animal feeding operations – a practice that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions -- and stronger regulation of odor and air pollution controls. 

 

CONSERVATION FUNDING—Iowans approved in November 2010 a Constitutional amendment that establishes a Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.  During the 2010 legislative session, enabling legislation (which is not protected in the Iowa Constitution) to set up the funding formula that previously had been agreed on passed.  During the final weeks before the election, the Iowa Farm Bureau opposed the trust fund and ran an unsuccessful campaign to defeat the Constitutional amendment.  The Chapter is now concerned that opponents will launch efforts to alter the enabling legislation changing the funding formula and/or inserting other damaging language in a bill.  Staff and volunteers will monitor budget and standings bills and advocate for increased funding for conservation and environmental protection.

 

Some legislators oppose purchase of additional public land.  Iowa is already near the bottom of all 50 states in the amount of public land.  Legislation has already been introduced banning the purchase of public land by the Iowa DNR (even with federal dollars) and the nationally recognized and popular Resources Enhancement and Protection Fund (REAP) is under attack, especially the open spaces account.

 

FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT– Retaining water on the land is a priority.  Climate change has increased our state’s future flooding impacts and experts are projecting increased precipitation and more frequent extreme rain events.  The flooding impacts of 1993, 2008 and 2010 will continue unless Iowa takes floodplain management seriously now.  The Chapter will actively support strengthening policy that prohibits building in floodplains and to stop unnecessary development in 500-year floodplains.   The Rebuild Iowa Office (RIO), organized after the 2008 floods, will sunset during 2011.  The Chapter will closely monitor progress made by RIO and any attempts to legislatively undermine policies RIO put into place.