House Democrats are moving forward with a landmark piece of legislation to bring the debate about limits on greenhouse gas emissions to the State of Iowa. Senate File 485 is being floor managed by Representative Donovan Olson. This bill creates a "greenhouse gas registry" similar to those found in other states and requires the Environmental Protection Commission and the director of the Department of Natural Resources to quantify the potential for emission of greenhouse gases by applicants for permits for electric power generating facilities. The registry is considered the first step towards creating a system for carbon emission permit trading in the State of Iowa.
This bill represents a mainstream and responsible approach to developing a comprehensive plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, Republicans have taken an extreme position on this particular bill. For example, during the committee meeting on the bill, Representative Duane Alons made a comparison between Iowa in 2007 and ancient Mayan cultures. He argued that global warming would be good for Iowa. He believes that ancient Mayans were giants – taller & stronger than modern men and women. He argues they were giants (and this is a good thing) because of warm temperatures. Ancient cyclical warming helped Mayans become giants!
Republicans are trotting out the same unscientific arguments against doing anything to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They argue that if we decrease CO2 emissions we will decrease crop yields in Iowa – ignoring the impact of insects, drought, and shifting rainfall patterns on crop yields. The scientific consensus is that CO2 induced warming will devastate agricultural production in Iowa – and around the world.
Greenhouse Gas Registry. DNR will establish a voluntary greenhouse gas registry for the purposes of cooperating with other states in tracking, managing, and crediting entities in the state that reduce their generation of greenhouse gases or provide increased energy efficiency. DNR will develop a mechanism to coordinate the information obtained in the inventory with the greenhouse gas registry. The greenhouse gas registry must be made available via internet by January 1, 2009.
Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council
The bill requires DNR to create an advisory council consisting of 18 voting members serving three year staggered terms, and four nonvoting, ex-officio members. The four nonvoting, ex-officio members will be from the General Assembly. The voting members are to be appointed by the Governor. The must include a representative of:
§ University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research
§ University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy and Environmental Education
§ Iowa Farm Bureau
§ Iowa Public Transit Association
§ Rural Electric Cooperatives
§ Investor owned utilities
§ Municipal Utilities
§ Iowa Utilities Board
§ One association with environmental interests or activities
§ One association with conservation interests or activities
§ International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
§ Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI)
§ Iowa Energy Center
§ Iowa Renewable Fuels Association
§ Office of Consumer Advocate of the Department of Justice
§ Local Government
§ Director of the Office of Energy Independence in the Office of the Governor
§ Manufacturer of equipment used for alternative energy production
The advisory council must develop multiple options designed to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emission including one option that would reduce emissions by 50% by 2050. The advisory council must also develop short-term, mid-range, and long-term scenarios designed to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the advisory council must establish a baseline year for the purpose of calculating reductions in statewide greenhouse gas emissions. The advisory council must submit such proposal to the General Assembly and the Governor by January 1, 2008.
Each year, by September 1, DNR must submit a report to the Governor and the General Assembly regarding the greenhouse gas emissions in the state for the previous calendar year and the future trends in emissions. The first report is due by September 1, 2008, for the 2007 calendar year.