Iowa Supreme Court Rules on Net Metering UPDATE May 2005

The Iowa Supreme Court recently overturned their ruling that rural electric cooperatives must net meter. The judges acted upon a request for reconsideration that was filed by Midland Power Cooperative.  Greg and Beverly Swecker, Windway Technologies, and Welch Motels have been in a six-year battle to allow cooperative customers to install alternate energy facilities, such as windmills and solar panels, and to have the excess energy purchased at a fair price.  Because this ruling was overturned without any new information or argument presented, the Sweckers, Windway Technology, and Welch Motels have asked the Iowa Supreme Court to reconsider its most-recent decision.

The investor-owned utilities, such as Alliant and MidAmerican, are now required to net-meter.  Net-metering, also called net-billing, is where the meter runs forward when a person is using electricity generated by a utility, and runs backward as excess electricity is returned to the utility.

At this point, the Sweckers have appealed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency to have an enforcement action placed against Midland.


French Creek Victory!

December 2004

The Iowa Supreme Court recently affirmed a Iowa District Court's decision from Allamakee County in a lawsuit against Wayne Weber LLC, a livestock producer who appealed a 2003 decree enforcing mediated settlement of nuisance action that was joined by the Sierra Club and Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association.  

Read the Iowa Supreme Court's opinion here... Read our news release, "Supreme Court Holds Factory Farm Polluter to French Creek Agreement." 

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments last summer concerning French Creek.  Two issues were discussed. 

First, the Sierra Club believes that an NPDES (National Pollution Discharge) permit should have been issued to the farmer, Wayne Weber.  This permit would apply to the storage tank and to the fields where the manure is spread.

The second issue involved whether Weber should be forced to follow the consent decree he agreed to during formal mediation sessions with the Sierra Club.  The topic of the mediation involved the manure application fields in close proximity to French Creek and how run-off should be avoided, in order to protect the creek.  Later, Weber backed out of the agreement.  The judge in Allamakee County ruled that the decree should be enforced.  The Sierra Club argued to the Supreme Court that the consent decree should be enforced.

French Creek is a cold-water trout stream in northeast Iowa.  There are naturally producing brown trout in the creek. 

A concentrated animal feeding operation, raising 4000 hogs, was built near French Creek.  The farmer was spreading manure on the bluffs above the creek.

The Sierra Club became concerned about the potential for manure to run off the field and into the creek, which would destroy the habitat for the trout.  Indeed, water tests from French Creek have shown increased nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen). 

There is also a great risk of this farmer polluting the ground water.  This region has karst topography, fractured limestone bedrock which is close to the surface.


Rock Island Preserve Victory!

August 2005

The Supreme Court recently affirmed a lower court's decision that City of Cedar Rapids had no right to review or veto a transfer of land to the Linn County Conservation Board.  Read more...

Highway 100 UPDATE May 2005

The Linn County Conservation Board has rejected a plan to sell the Rock Island State Preserve and the adjoining County Preserve to the City of Cedar Rapids.

In March 2005, the Linn County Board of Supervisors and the City of Cedar Rapids concocted a scheme where the Supervisors and the City would each pay the Linn County Conservation Department $200,000 to purchase the Rock Island State Preserve and the County Preserve.  The scheme was designed so that Highway 100 could be built through the preserve properties.  The plan was that the City of Cedar Rapids would maintain the preserve properties as city parks.

After considerable rounds of discussion outside of the board meeting, the Conservation Board did pass a resolution that indicated that they supported the Department of Transportation continuing its study process toward issuing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.  They will continue working with the Federal Highway Administration toward a 4(f) designation for the preserve properties, and then will consider negotiating with the DOT should the road be built through the preserve.


Impacts to Yellow River Continue

A large meat processing plant in Postville that currently discharges waste into the Yellow River is planning an expansion..... Read more....