Events coming up during the next two weeks

Last month was so busy that I didn’t manage to post any event calendars here, but I am back on duty now. The highlight of this month for Democrats is the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Saturday, November 21, featuring Vice President Joe Biden. You can buy tickets online.

Please note that November 10 is the deadline for public comments to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources about protecting our Outstanding Iowa Waters. The Farm Bureau is mobilizing public comments against these regulations. The DNR needs to hear from Iowans committed to preserving our highest-quality waterways. Click here for background and an easy to use comment form.

State Senator Staci Appel will officially announce her re-election campaign on November 12, and I’ve posted details about a fundraiser for her campaign below the fold. Appel’s Republican opponent, State Representative Kent Sorenson, is already gearing up for next year’s election. He spent the weekend in Texas attending the WallBuilders ProFamily Legislators Conference. Here’s some background on David Barton’s vision for America, chock full of Biblical interpretations supporting right-wing public policies. Barton spoke to the Iowa Christian Alliance not long ago (click that link to watch videos). Former presidential candidate Ron Paul is headlining a fundraiser for Sorenson on November 14, by the way.

Many more event details are after the jump. As always, please post a comment about anything I’ve left out, or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com).

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ACTION: Help protect outstanding Iowa waters

Political journalists tend to write about laws and executive orders, but some of the most important policy decisions take place during the rulemaking process within executive branch agencies.

Last month I wrote about rulemaking at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that will affect the highest-quality waters in Iowa. These rules will determine which lakes and streams receive the “Outstanding Iowa Waters” designation, as well as the level of protection those waterways receive from future polluters.

The Iowa Environmental Council’s monthly newsletter arrived today, and it contained the following action alert:

Currently underway at the Iowa DNR is a rule-making package that includes protections for Iowa’s very best, few remaining high quality waters. From now through November 10, 2009, they are accepting public comments/letters, which will help them decide whether to designate 6 Iowa lakes and 32 streams as Outstanding Iowa Waters. This designation will provide protections which keep the water quality in these water bodies from becoming degraded. In addition, the Iowa Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee also needs to hear from Iowans about these designations.

Follow this link to learn more about Outstanding Iowa Waters.

Follow this link to learn more about Antidegradation Rules and Outstanding Iowa Waters

Three Ways you can help protect Iowa’s Outstanding Iowa Waters…

1) Follow this link to send a comment letter to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and your State Senator and Representative. LINK to ACTION ALERT and SAMPLE LETTER. This letter must be sent no later than November 10, 2009.

2) Attend and speak out at a public meeting in Des Moines on November 10, in the Wallace Building Auditorium, at 1:00 p.m. Public meetings, let the DNR hear directly from local citizens about the value they place on clean water.  At these meetings the public can provide oral testimony on the record demonstrating their support for the designation and protection of the nominated waters.  TALKING POINTS

3) Attend a meeting of the Iowa Legislative Administrative Rules Committee, also on November 10, at the Capitol, at 9:00 a.m., in room 24 (behind the Senate Chambers) and present your comments to the Committee. TALKING POINTS

If you have questions or need help with your comments, contact Shannan Garretson at the Iowa Environmental Council at 515-244-1194 ext 211, email skgarretson@iaenvironment.org or contact Susan Heathcote at extension 205, email heathcote@iaenvironment.org.

If the talking points links don’t work from here, you can find them on this page of the IEC’s website.

Remember, the public comment period ends on November 10. Please take a few minutes to make your voice heard, and pass this link along to friends who like paddling, fishing or are just passionate about Iowa lakes and streams.

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ACTION: Contact the DNR to protect water quality

I received this alert from the Sierra Club’s Iowa Chapter:

Two years after a coalition, including the Iowa Chapter, petitioned the Environmental Protection Commission for rulemaking to strengthen Iowa’s antidegradation rule, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is recommending “softer” language for protecting some of Iowa’s waters.  Once again, the DNR is succumbing to pressure from polluters to a less protective status for Iowa’s water.

Make your voice heard to DNR that “softening” the language in the antidegradation rule is not acceptable.

At issue is Tier 2.5 protection for Outstanding Iowa Waters.  The DNR agreed early in discussions that Iowa’s high-quality waters, outstanding state resources with exceptional recreational or ecological significance, needed this enhanced level of protection.  Recently, the DNR changed the Outstanding Iowa Waters originally listed.  Now only two of the waters listed in the new NOIA receive a pollution discharge.  See a map of the proposed Outstanding Iowa Waters here. (pdf)

The DNR also proposes language that will make it more difficult to nominate future waters as Outstanding Iowa Waters.  Although any individual or organization can nominate a surface water, the burden of proving that water is worthy falls on whoever is making the nomination.  Draft language indicates that the water will by default receive less protection unless it is proven to deserve otherwise.

The Sierra Club, Iowa Chapter believes that the default should be maximum protection and the burden of proof should fall on the polluter.

Tell the DNR that you want Iowa’s high-quality waters to receive maximum protection and that all proposed streams and lakes should be designated Outstanding Iowa Waters.

Your comments about the proposed Outstanding Iowa Waters are important.  Let the DNR know your experiences and why they should receive maximum protection.

Thanks for all that you do.

Neila Seaman

Sierra Club Iowa Chapter

Click here to see the list of creeks and lakes that the DNR designated as “Outstanding Iowa Waters” earlier this year. This Google document is the memo revising the list, removing all lakes and most of the creeks.

The Sierra Club makes it easy for you to e-mail the right people at the DNR with your comment on this issue. It’s always better to personalize your message if you can, so you might want to look at this document to see whether any lakes or creeks you have enjoyed have been removed from the Outstanding Iowa Waters list. The Iowa Environmental Council provides much more background here on antidegradation rules and Outstanding Iowa Waters.

If you prefer to contact the DNR without going through the Sierra Club site, the Iowa Environmental Council has contact information for the right person here. Public comments must be received by September 15.

Water quality is a huge problem in Iowa already, so we need strong rules protecting our best waters from increased pollution. Please make your voice heard with the DNR.

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Speak out for water quality and air quality in Iowa

Today is the last day to submit public comments to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources concerning draft water quality rules (“Antidegradation rules”).

Background information and talking points can be found on the websites of Sierra Club Iowa or the Iowa Environmental Council. Submit your comments to Adam Schnieders, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wallace State Office Building, 502 East 9th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0034, fax (515) 281-8895 or by E-mail to adam.schnieders@dnr.iowa.gov. Contact Adam Schnieders at (515) 281-7409 with questions.

While you’re on the Sierra Club Iowa page, look on the left-hand side for talking points about the draft air quality permit for the proposed coal-fired power plant near Marshalltown. As I wrote in this post, there are some big problems with the permit, and it’s important for as many Iowans to weigh in as possible with public comments. The DNR recently extended the comment period for that air quality permit until May 18, but it’s not too early to send in your letter.

Last week Blog for Iowa published an excellent letter on the draft permit by Paul Deaton, who chairs the Johnson County Board of Health. Read his letter as well as the Sierra Club talking points for some ideas, but remember to use your own words when writing to the DNR.

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Events coming up the next two weeks

There’s a lot going on the next two weeks, so I put all the details after the jump.

Please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

I noticed on the Iowa Environmental Council’s newsletter that they are looking for a new program director:

The Iowa Environmental Council is in the process of establishing an air quality program area. The Council is seeking an individual to conduct research, engage in coalition building and public education and advise the Council on policy opportunities available to protect Iowa’s air quality. For job requirements, description, salary information and how to apply, go to: www.iaenvironment.org, and click on “job opening” on the gold sidebar. Please share this information with others.

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Events coming up this week

I haven’t posted an event calendar for the last couple of weeks, because there was hardly anything going on. Things are picking up again this week, however.

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know if an event I’ve left out, which would be of interest to the Bleeding Heartland community.

Monday, December 8:

Learning from the Floods of 2008: Practical Strategies for Resilience

Join the conversation December 8, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m, at a flood workshop at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. This workshop will explore the potential ways to mitigate future flooding and offer insights from experts in agriculture, water and land use, urban planning and government, and representatives from state and federal agencies. Sessions are planned on Flood 2008 realities; farming systems; urban systems and river systems. Sponsors for the event are the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa. The workshop is free but registrations must be received by Monday, December 1 at the conference web site: http://www.flood.leopold.iasta…  For more information, contact Jeri Neal, wink@iastate.edu, or (515) 294-5610. (Note: It may be worth calling first thing on Monday to see if you can get in, even past the registration deadline.)

IowaPolitics.com is hosting a panel discussion featuring Iowa’s legislative leaders and from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Confirmed panelists include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. It will be located at the Iowa Historical Building, third floor, Classroom A & B. (Doors open at 2 p.m.) In theory, you were supposed to RSVP by December 1 if you wanted to attend, but it may be worth contacting Julie Rutz at 515.226.8774 or email rutz@IowaPolitics.com to see if there is still seating available. Free parking will be available in a ramp located directly North of the Historical Building on Grand Avenue.

If anyone goes to this forum, you might want to ask ask why the legislative leadership isn’t making local control (agricultural zoning) a priority, even though both parties’ platforms endorse the principle. I think I know the answer to that question, but I would be curious to know how the leaders answer.

On Monday evening from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, join One Iowa for the public premiere of “Our Story”, One Iowa’s short film featuring Iowans speaking out in favor of marriage for gays and lesbians. The screening will be at Fleur Cinema and Cafe, 4545 Fleur Drive in Des Moines. Come celebrate with us and don’t miss your chance to mingle with the stars! Light appetizers will be provided with a cash bar. Remarks by Senator Matt McCoy and Des Moines Register Columnist Rekha Basu.

RSVP here: http://eqfed.org/oneiowa/event…

For more information, contact One Iowa at (515) 288-4019 or organize@oneiowa.org

Tuesday, December 9:

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a marriage equality case (Varnum v. Brien):

Join One Iowa across the state to celebrate and learn more about this historic opportunity for equality. Given the interest in the case and limited capacity, we anticipate that there will not be enough seating for everyone in the Supreme Court chamber.  To accommodate growing interest from our supporters, One Iowa has planned several “watch parties” across the state!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 – 9:45 – 11:30 AM

Des Moines Watch Party – Des Moines Public Library, 1000 Grand Avenue

Ames Watch Party – ISU Memorial Union, Gallery Room (3rd Floor), 2229 Lincoln Way

Iowa City Watch Party – Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn

We are making every effort to ensure a live-feed at each of these locations; but due to technology limitations and previous experiences in other states, we cannot make any guarantees on the quality of the live-feed. Regardless, this will be a great way for our supporters to gather for a truly historic event!

If you can’t watch the Supreme Court arguments live, One Iowa is organizing a “Making the Case” Des Moines Reception on Tuesday from 6:30-8:00 pm at the Pappajohn Center, 1200 Grand Avenue in Des Moines. Join us in the evening for a reception to discuss this historic event with remarks by Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal’s senior attorney on the case. If the district court ruling is upheld, it will provide gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry; full marriage equality in Iowa. Wine and hors d’oeuvres provided.

Also on December 9, James Patchett, landscape architect, hydrologist and founder/president of the Conservation Design Forum in Chicago, will explore peoples’ cultural relationships to land and water resources. His presentation will be from 4-5:30 p.m. at the UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education in the Auditorium (Cedar Falls). It is free and open to the public. Patchett will present case studies that show how to apply sustainable development practices of green roof technologies, porous pavements, bio-retention systems, and integration of native landscapes. For more information, go to http://www.ceee.uni.edu.

From the Sierra Club e-mail list:

Conference to Assist Those Planning to Circumvent Disaster from Future Weather Events Will Be Held December 9-11 in Coralville

Learn from the experience of those impacted by natural disasters, their recovery, the regulatory issues involved, the rebuilding process, and an exploration of strategies to consider prior to reconstruction. Attend the Iowa Disaster Recovery Conference scheduled for December 9 and 10 at the Marriott Coralville Hotel & Conference Center. An optional community design workshop led by design professionals will be held December 11 at the same location.

Three concurrent breakout sessions tracks are offered for Natural Disaster Recovery, Regulatory Compliance, and Sustainability/Green Design. Keynote speakers are Bob Dixon of Greensburg, Kansas, and former Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening, President, Smart Growth Leadership Institute.

Conference agenda and registration are available at www.iowalifechanging.com/register .

This conference is sponsored by Department of Economic Development, Rebuild Iowa Office, Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Waste Reduction Center.

Wednesday, December 10:

Join One Iowa and Lambda Legal for a “Making the Case” townhall forum in Cedar Rapids to celebrate and discuss the oral arguments before the Iowa Supreme Court in the landmark Varnum v. Brien case. The event will take place from 6:30-7:30 pm at CSPS/Legion Arts, 1103 3rd St SE in Cedar Rapids.

Thursday, December 11:

One Iowa and Lambda Legal are holding a “Making the Case” townhall forum from 6:30-7:30 at  Davenport Unitarian, 3707 Eastern Ave in Davenport.

Friday, December 12:

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women is organizing a lunch and learn:

Bring your lunch and join the discussion regarding violence against college women. Presenters will be Annette Lynch with the Iowa Regent’s Campus Violence Prevention Project and Karen Mitchell with the SAVE* Forum Actors, University of Northern Iowa . The panel will be moderated by Rachel Scott, ICSW division administrator.

Friday, December 12th

12 noon – 1 p.m.

Lucas State Office Building 6th Floor Cafeteria

321 East 12th Street, Des Moines

Free and open to the public

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled a meeting at 1:00 pm in the Wallace State Office Building (5th floor), 502 East 9th Street in Des Moines, to receive public comments about new Antidegradation rules for rivers, streams and lakes in Iowa. Background from the Iowa Environmental Council:

New Water Rules Proposed

Citizen Comments Important!

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled nine meetings in December and January to receive public comments about new Antidegradation rules for rivers, streams and lakes in Iowa. It is important that citizens attend the meetings or send written comments in support of these protective rules.

These new water rules, called Antidegradation, refer to regulations that significantly increase protections for all rivers, streams and lakes and keep water quality from worsening.  Under the federal Clean Water Act, each state must adopt antidegradation rules for their rivers, streams and lakes.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently in the process of proposing antidegradation rules for Iowa waters and is asking for public comments that will help determine how protective (or lax) these rules will be.  That is why it’s important that concerned Iowans participate in this process.

In addition to strengthening protections for all rivers and lakes the proposed rules include an initial list of more than 50 waters with exceptional recreational or ecological significance to receive special designation and protection as Outstanding Iowa Waters, including West Lake Okoboji, Spirit lake, Wapsipinicon River, Maquoketa River, and French Creek.

How you can help

1)      Learn about antidegradation policy, frequently asked question, talking points and much more, by reading the documents posted on this section of our website (http://www.iaenvironment.org/Antidegradation1.htm).  Don’t feel like you have to be an expert on antidegradation policy.  If you have questions after reading these documents, call or email Susan Heathcote, water program director for the Iowa Environmental Council.  515-244-1194, ext 205.  Heathcote@iaenvironment.org.

2)      Attend a public comment meeting and speak up in support of the antidegradation rules as proposed by the Iowa DNR.  Meetings will be held in December and January.  For a list of dates and locations, go to http://www.iaenvironment.org/w…

Antidegradation rules have been a required component of all state’s Water Quality Standards since 1972 as part of the federal Clean Water Act and have never been fully implemented in Iowa. These rules are a top priority for the Iowa Environmental Council and we are glad the Iowa DNR has finally begun rule making on these important rules.

These rules will allow Iowa to grow sensibly and sustainably by ensuring that new pollution will be allowed into Iowa’s rivers, lakes and streams only if it will not harm existing uses of those water bodies and is truly necessary to achieve important social and economic goals of the people of Iowa.

An especially critical part of these new rules are two new designations for Iowa’s highest quality waters called Outstanding Iowa Waters (OIW) and Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRW). These new designations require stringent protections against permitting any new sources of pollution that would lower water quality. Currently the Iowa Great Lakes in Dickinson County (including West Lake Okoboji, Big Spirit Lake, East Okoboji Lake, Lower Gar, Upper Gar and Minnewashta) and Dalton Lake in Jackson County are proposed for OIW designation. Also proposed for OIW designation are 46 stream segments (mostly cold  water streams in Northeast Iowa), including portions of the Wapsipinicon River, Maquoketa River, French Creek, Sny Magill Creek, Trout Run, and Waterloo Creek.

Plains Justice is holding a holiday open house at its Cedar Rapids office from 4 to 6 p.m.:  

We have a lot to celebrate, including our second anniversary in November, the addition of several great new staffers, board and advisory board members this year, and getting back on our feet after the flood.  We’re so grateful for the support of all our friends and colleagues.

Our office is at the corner of 1st Avenue and 1st Street SW, on the west side of the Cedar River next to I-380, on the second floor.  We’d love to see you.

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