[Bleeding Heartland Logo]

Bleeding Heartland is a community blog about Iowa politics: campaigns and elections, state government, social and environmental issues. Bleeding Heartland also weighs in on presidential policies and campaigns, federal legislation and what the Iowans in Congress are up to. Join our community, post your thoughts as comments or diaries, help keep our leaders honest and hold them accountable.
- desmoinesdem
- Iowa politics in 2008
- Iowa politics in 2009 (1)
- Iowa politics in 2009 (2)
- National politics in 2009 (1)
- National politics in 2009 (2)
- Iowa 2012 election coverage
- Who's who in the Iowa House for 2013
- Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2013
- Iowa wildflowers
2014 Election Coverage
- IA-Sen
- IA-Gov
- IA-01
- IA-02
- IA-03
- IA-04
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of State
- State Auditor
- Iowa Senate overview
- Iowa House overview
- Senate district 5
- Senate district 7
- Senate district 9
- Senate district 13
- Senate district 15
- Senate district 17
- Senate district 27
- Senate district 39
- Senate district 41
- Senate district 47
- Senate district 49
- House district 25
- House district 28
- House district 33 (2013)
- House district 51
- House district 60
- House district 65
- House district 68
- House district 73
- House district 91
- House district 92
- House district 95
- House district 99

Advanced Search

Paid Advertising

Bleeding Heartland
It's what plants crave.
water quality


by: Supervisor Brent Oleson

Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 18:12:24 PM CDT

(The author has been a Linn County Supervisor since 2009 and previously worked with the Iowa Senate Minority leader. Bleeding Heartland discussed the bipartisan effort to increase REAP funding to $25 million here. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

I'm gonna go on a rant...about an attempted RAPE.

Yes, I mean every word and hyperbole I'm uttering on this post. REAP (Resource Enhancement & Protection) is being RAPED! For Agriculture...by agri-business...to correct it's mistakes in a supposedly free and private market of farming. How is this rape of taxpayer funds and DNR license plate fees occurring and for what specifically? Read on My friends. 

The Iowa House of Representatives wants to put REAP dollars toward... agri-terrace projects, forestry management (subject to logging), and water nutrient pollution clean-up programs because farmland soil is laden with fertilizer chemicals. These are all worthy issues to be addressed on their own I say, and should indeed be addressed and monies put toward mitigation efforts. The Iowa Dept. Of Ag has jurisdiction on all these problems, and they should since their policies and practices created them in the first place.

This isn't an indictment of farmers, because most are great conservationists of their own free will as it's good business and good citizenship. I commend those Iowa farmers, especially my Linn County ones, who work hard to be responsible neighbors, citizens and conservationists...voluntarily I might add! But I don't give a pass to bad apples, policy-makers, or special interest Ag industry lobbyists.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 807 words in story)

Report highlights growing land access problem for Iowa farmers

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 13:20:00 PM CDT

Since at least 2007, roughly half of Iowa's land in agricultural production has been rented or leased rather than farmed by its owner. Farmland values at historically high levels are making it even more difficult for Iowans to pursue a secure career in farming. Almost no one can afford a large parcel of farmland at more than $8,000 per acre (or $10,000 per acre of high-grade land). Banks are rarely willing to lend aspiring farmers the kind of money needed to buy a farm, or to buy out siblings or cousins who inherited parts of the family farm.

Some experts believe Iowa farmland values have peaked, but via Tom Philpott I came across evidence that pressure from large buyers may continue to drive up prices. The Oakland Institute analyzed the trend of Wall Street investors buying farmland in the U.S. As institutional investors pile into this market, Iowa farmland may become increasingly unaffordable.

After the jump I've posted a few excerpts from the Oakland Institute's report, but I recommend downloading the whole piece to see supporting charts and references.

The trend toward absentee landlords owning Iowa farms is one among many reasons we can't rely on purely voluntary efforts to protect soil and water quality. Tenant farmers have no incentive to spend money on conservation practices to improve land for the long-term. Landowners (whether they be Wall Street firms or individual investors) are often looking for the highest rent this year, not farming practices that preserve soil fertility and keep excess nutrients out of waterways.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 982 words in story)

Decorah recognized as Iowa River Town of the Year

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 09:35:40 AM CDT

The Winneshiek County seat of Decorah has a well-deserved reputation as one of Iowa's most environmental-minded towns. Organic farmers and gardeners from all over the country have long relied on Seed Savers Exchange as a source for heirloom vegetable seeds and herbs. Two years ago, Luther College installed Iowa's largest solar array. Small-scale renewable energy allows a growing number of people in the Decorah area to live "off the grid."

This month, the non-profit group Iowa Rivers Revival honored Decorah for "efforts by the city and its many partners to make the Upper Iowa River the heart and soul of the community and a focus for recreation, economic development, and environmental stewardship." The news release I've enclosed below highlights an impressive range of programs and projects, which have made the Upper Iowa River both cleaner and more usable for locals and tourists. Here's hoping many other city leaders and Iowa school districts will learn from Decorah's success.

UPDATE: The April edition of Smithsonian magazine ranked Decorah as number 19 on its list of America's 20 "best small towns" to visit. The story noted, "Decorah sits in the heart of Iowa's bluff country, an area heralded for scenic beauty and wildlife. Dunning Springs, just minutes from downtown Decorah, is a 200-foot waterfall-visitors can explore the area by bike or via a network of hiking trails."

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 799 words in story)

Bipartisan push underway to increase Iowa REAP funding

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 17:44:07 PM CDT

Iowa's Resource Enhancement and Protection program (REAP) celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Among the most successful conservation initiatives in Iowa history, REAP has cumulatively distributed about $300 million to thousands of projects across the state. It is mostly funded through gaming revenues that go into the state's Environment First Fund. In theory, REAP "is authorized to receive $20 million per year until 2021," but the state legislature has never fully funded REAP to the authorized level. This year's budget included $16 million for REAP, and Governor Terry Branstad kept that item at the same level in his draft budget for fiscal year 2015.

Today about three dozen non-profit organizations gathered at the State Capitol for the annual Environmental Lobby Day organized by the Iowa Environmental Council. I attended the event because I'm active in the IEC and in several of its member organizations. At a press conference organized by the IEC, four speakers emphasized the need to increase conservation funding: Republican State Senator David Johnson, Democratic State Senator Bob Dvorsky, Iowa Natural Resource Commission Chair Margo Underwood, and Rod Marlatt, executive director of the Fayette County Conservation Board. Dvorsky particularly emphasized his goal to secure $25 million in funding for REAP in the coming fiscal year, in honor of the program's 25th anniversary.

Because REAP-supported projects are often popular locally, the program has mostly escaped the partisan divisions that have led to the demise of some state initiatives. Today the Iowa House approved a resolution celebrating the 25th anniversary of REAP. Remarkably, 96 of the 100 state representatives co-sponsored this resolution, which House Democrat Chuck Isenhart proposed. Now that they're on record agreeing, "Iowans strongly believe that the Resource Enhancement and Protection Program is a successful venture worthy of the continued support of the General Assembly," let's hope they will put a lot of money where their mouths are. The $25 million in REAP funding has an excellent chance of clearing the Iowa Senate, since Dvorsky chairs the Appropriations Committee. Will the Iowa House go along? The many state lawmakers who spoke with Environmental Lobby Day exhibitors today included House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer and several members of the House Appropriations Committee.

After the jump I've posted background on the REAP program from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website, including a map showing how much REAP funding has gone to each of Iowa's 99 counties. I also enclosed a press release from the Iowa Environmental Council, with highlights from speakers at the conservation rally.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 619 words in story)

Iowa Senate district 45: Joe Seng has a primary challenger, Mark Riley

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 15:22:00 PM CDT

If any Iowa Democrat deserves a primary challenge, it's three-term State Senator Joe Seng. Although the Davenport-based veterinarian represents one of the Democrats' safest urban districts, Seng is anti-choice and supported Republican calls for a vote against marriage equality in 2010. As chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, he has helped pass several bills that are good for industrial agriculture but bad for the environment, especially clean water. In addition, Seng himself challenged three-term U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack in the IA-02 Democratic primary two years ago, so he couldn't claim the moral high ground against a primary challenger for his state Senate seat.

I was excited to see yesterday that another Democratic candidate, Mark Riley, had filed papers to run in Senate district 45. When I realized Riley was Seng's Republican opponent in 2010 and ran an independent campaign against Iowa House Democrat Cindy Winckler in 2012, I became disappointed. Was he just a fake like the "Democrat" who ran against State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad in 2010?

I sought comment from Riley about why he was running as a Democrat in Iowa Senate district 45, having campaigned as a Republican in the same district a few years ago. I've posted his response after the jump. You be the judge. Riley would have my serious consideration if I lived on the west side of Davenport.  

There's More... :: (9 Comments, 1253 words in story)

What could go wrong? Less training for manure spreaders edition

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:50:00 AM CDT

More than 800 manure spills have occurred on Iowa farms during the past two decades. At least 262 manure spills reached Iowa waterways between 2001 and 2011 alone, affecting the vast majority of counties.

More than half of rivers and streams in the region including Iowa are in "poor condition for aquatic life." Manure spills are a major contributing factor to this problem, and they are happening more often. The number of recorded manure spills in Iowa grew from 46 in 2012 to 76 in 2013.

How should state government respond to this set of facts? Various policies might address the explosion in waterways officially recognized as "impaired."  

But this is Iowa, where it's a minor miracle to get state lawmakers to take any steps against water pollution, and agricultural interests have repeatedly moved to undermine regulations related to the handling of manure on large-scale farms.

Last week, two-thirds of Iowa House members saw fit to reduce continuing education requirements for people certified to spread liquid manure on farm fields.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1031 words in story)

Weekend open thread: Raccoon River Watershed edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 16:47:38 PM CST

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

If you're among the roughly half a million Iowans whose household water comes from the Des Moines Water Works, you may have noticed a stronger chlorine smell lately. After the jump I've posted a statement explaining why the recent snow melt led to elevated ammonia levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers, the sources for most drinking water in central Iowa. I also enclosed background on the most common causes of higher ammonia levels in surface water systems. Those can differ from watershed to watershed, but in Iowa conventional agriculture is a common source.

The Raccoon River Watershed Association is organizing an "Aldo Leopold Weekend Event" at the Hotel Pattee in Perry this Friday night and Saturday. I've enclosed the program below. On Saturday afternoon people will be reading from the Sand County Almanac before a showing of the documentary "Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time." That movie is well worth watching for anyone who cares about the environment.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 609 words in story)

Mid-week open thread: Coal is not cheap edition

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 19:55:00 PM CST

Here's your mid-week open thread, Bleeding Heartland readers: all topics welcome. Earlier this evening, Governor Terry Branstad made his re-election campaign official. I'll post a roundup of news clips and highlights tomorrow morning.

One thing's been bothering me all week. We hear so much about how renewable energy is too expensive for consumers compared to coal and other fossil fuels used to generate electricity. But we don't often calculate the hidden costs of this allegedly "cheap" coal. Even under normal circumstances, coal takes an enormous toll on human health every step of the way, from mining to combustion to waste disposal. Chronic illnesses shorten lives, reduce productivity and can be expensive to treat.

Costs escalate when a catastrophe happens like last week's chemical spill in West Virginia. Not only were 300,000 people in the area left without usable water for days, residents of Cincinnati may be affected too as the pollution flows downstream. Taxpayers will foot the bill for the emergency water deliveries and probably most of the cleanup. The government board that will investigate the chemical spill lacks the resources to do its job properly.

Here's some good news, though, courtesy of the Iowa Environmental Council's blog:

Iowa is also making progress retiring coal-fired generation.  In fact, a recent announcement by Alliant energy that it will convert its M.L. Kapp station in Clinton to burn natural gas means that Iowa utilities have announced over one gigawatt of coal retirement in the last year.  These announcements include three Iowa plants involved in a settlement over Clean Air Act violations the Sierra Club reached with MidAmerican Energy last year.

Click through for a table showing coal-fired plants in Iowa that will either close or shift to natural gas. (Disclosure: I'm involved with the Iowa Environmental Council but not with their blog.)

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Reaction to Branstad's 2014 Condition of the State address

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:40:00 AM CST

Immediately following Governor Terry Branstad's Condition of the State address to Iowa legislators yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal told Iowa Public Television that he "didn't hear anything I disagreed with." Not every Iowan who closely follows state government shared his reaction. State Senator Jack Hatch, the leading Democratic challenger to Branstad, slammed the governor's "very shallow agenda" of "low expectations."

After the jump I've posted more detailed comments from Hatch and a few other Iowa Democrats, as well as statements released by several non-profit organizations, which called attention to important problems Branstad ignored or glossed over.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 2708 words in story)

Citizens Group Releases Video Advocating Additional Clean Water Standards


Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 08:10:33 AM CST

Citizens for a Healthy Iowa today released a new 30 second advertisement entitled ‘Drinking Water Roulette’. The ad is the first in a series that will highlight the need for Governor Branstad and the Legislature to improve standards holding Iowa farms accountable for cleaner water. ‘Drinking Water Roulette’ will air on statewide as well as in paid targeted online placements.

Citizens for a Healthy Iowa is a local clean water/environmental advocacy organization chaired by local environmental advocate Mike Delaney. 

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 233 words in story)

Iowans split on party lines over bill to weaken hazardous waste laws

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 07:34:00 AM CST

Talk about lousy timing: just before a chemical spill made tap water unusable for 300,000 West Virginians, the U.S. House approved a bill that would "weaken the nation's hazardous waste laws and place American communities at increased risk of toxic exposure." The Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013 (H.R. 2279) includes three bills House Republicans drafted last year. In a letter signed by 129 public interest groups, Earth Justice listed the key points of each bill and explained why the package would "threaten human health and the environment while protecting polluters from liability for the costs of toxic cleanups." I've posted an excerpt from that open letter after the jump. In a post for the Earth Justice blog last week, Lisa Evans called this bill "Kryptonite for Superfund" and "a con job of the highest order, allowing polluters to walk away without losing a penny, while taxpayers are left footing the bill."

Under its current leadership, the House has been called "the most anti-environmental House in our nation's history" because of the many bills passed that would curtail federal regulations and take power away from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Occasionally Iowa's two House Democrats have gone along with those efforts, but I was pleased to see that on January 9, Representatives Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted against the latest effort to hamstring the EPA and for the Democratic motion to recommit this bill with instructions (often a last-ditch effort to kill legislation in the House). Iowa Republicans Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04) lived up to their abysmal voting records on the environment by voting for the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act and against the motion to recommit.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 392 words in story)

Iowa Citizens are not anti-ag. They are anti industrial ag.

by: rollingacresfarm

Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 10:55:57 AM CST

(Denise O'Brien, who was the Democratic nominee for Iowa secretary of agriculture in 2006, farms with her husband at Rolling Acres Farm in Cass County. She co-authored this post with staff from the non-profit Pesticide Action Network. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Below is a response to the article http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013312050037&nclick_check=1 that was published on December 5th. The piece was submitted but not published. It was written in collaboration with staff from Pesticide Action Network:

Contrary to Mr. Lehr’s inflammatory remarks to the recent Iowa Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting, the trend of Iowans paying attention to agricultural practices is a far cry from the state rejecting farming. Iowans have a deep appreciation for agriculture. They want what is best for food production, and for the state... A healthy dialog about farming practices isn’t something to fear – it can help make Iowa a healthier and more economically secure place to live. 

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 538 words in story)

Help restore Iowa's rivers...submit comments to Iowa Legislators by Dec 10

by: Iowa Rivers Revival

Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 17:04:07 PM CST

(Thanks for the heads up on an important issue that's below the radar for most Iowans. Improving our rivers would be a huge plus for the economy as well as for the environment. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Iowans have the ear of our Iowa legislators --- voice your support to help establish a statewide River Restoration Program. Submit your comments by Tuesday, Dec 10th. 

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 397 words in story)

Mid-week open thread, with good news from Illinois

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 21:11:08 PM CST

Sitting at Abraham Lincoln's desk, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a marriage equality bill into law today. That makes 15 states plus Washington, DC where couples can marry regardless of sexual orientation. In the order where same-sex marriage was legalized, either by courts, legislation, or referendum: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, the District of Columbia, New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, California, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Illinois.

More good news out of our neighbor to the east:

Chad Pregracke, an Illinois man who has dedicated his life to cleaning the Mississippi River and other U.S. waterways, was named the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year on Tuesday night.

Pregracke organizes community cleanups across the country through his nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters. About 70,000 volunteers have pitched in, helping Pregracke collect more than 7 million pounds of trash in the past 15 years.

Pregracke has inspired many Iowans involved in river restoration and water quality work. He grew up in East Moline, just over the Mississippi.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Sherrie Taha's case for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 13:15:00 PM CST

Polk County Soil and Water Commissioner Sherrie Taha announced her candidacy for Iowa secretary of agriculture last month and has been appearing at Democratic events around the state in recent weeks. Her campaign is on Facebook here. To my knowledge, there isn't a campaign website yet.

Taha's central message is simple: "A healthy Iowa begins with healthy soil." Protecting that soil will reduce input costs for farmers while producing cleaner water in Iowa and downstream. That basic truth seems to be lost on the incumbent Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. Despite evidence that Iowa's world-class topsoil, a non-renewable resource, is "floating away" at an alarming rate, Northey has resisted any regulation aimed at reducing runoff into waterways. Instead, Northey promotes voluntary efforts, which may not be applied where they are most needed to keep topsoil in place. The incumbent also opposes any numeric standards which would indicate whether the state's strategy to reduce water pollution from farms is working.

Taha will have an uphill battle against Northey, who was narrowly elected in 2006 and easily re-elected in 2010. The incumbent will have strong financial backing from interest groups that profit from current conventional agricultural practices. A far larger group of Iowans would benefit from Taha's plan to do more to protect farmland and clean water. After the jump I've posted the introductory piece of literature from her campaign, which highlights her priorities and provides a short bio.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 18 words in story)

Weekend open thread, with recent Iowa Supreme Court news

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 13:30:00 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

I've been catching up on news related to the Iowa Supreme Court. On October 9 the seven justices heard oral arguments in two cases at the Fort Dodge Middle School auditorium. One of those cases was Iowa Farm Bureau, et al. v. Environmental Protection Commission, et al. Interest groups representing major water polluting industries in Iowa are seeking to overturn one of the most significant water quality protection rules this state has adopted during my lifetime. In March 2012, a Polk County District Court judge declared the legal challenge to the rule "without merit." The Farm Bureau quickly signaled its intent to appeal, claiming the case was about "good government" rather than water quality.

The Iowa Supreme Court will likely announce a decision in this case sometime early next year. Ryan Koopmans noted recently at the On Brief blog that the justices have cleared what used to be a major backlog and are running an efficient operation.

On average, the Court issues a decision 112 days after final submission (which is usually triggered by oral argument).  But even that figure understates the Court's efficiency.   There is a small subset of cases that, because of their complexity or other unusual factors, skew the average, which means that the median might give a better picture of the Court's timeliness.  That's 87 days between final submission and decision, which is relatively fast.

The Court is even faster when the situation calls for it.  In February, the Court issued a decision in In re Whalen-a case about a burial location- just 29 days after the scheduled oral argument.  And the  Court has made it a priority to respond quickly to certified questions from federal district courts.

Incidentally, last week's session in Fort Dodge is part of the Iowa Supreme Court's relatively new commitment to hear cases outside its chambers in Des Moines periodically. The effort was one response to the 2010 retention elections, the first ever in which voters chose not to retain Iowa Supreme Court justices. University of Iowa College of Law professor Todd Pettys cited those hearings around the state as one among many reasons that the 2012 vote to retain Justice David Wiggins turned out differently from the elections two years earlier. You can download Pettys' paper for the Journal of Appellate Practice and Process here. While it's probably healthy for the justices to work in other cities from time to time, I think the other factors Pettys discusses were far more important in 2012 than the court's statewide tour.

At the end of Pettys' paper, he discusses the future for the Varnum v Brien ruling, which cleared the way for same-sex marriages in Iowa in 2009. Commenting on a somewhat surprising "special concurrence" by Justices Edward Mansfield and Thomas Waterman in a different case related to marriage equality, Pettys suggests that perhaps "the Iowa Supreme Court is no longer of one mind about whether the Varnum Court was right to hold that the Iowa Constitution grants same-sex couples the right to marry."

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Iowa DNR and EPA sign work plan on CAFO inspections (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 16:38:00 PM CDT

Some potentially good news for Iowa waterways: after months of delays, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally signed a work plan on new procedures for permitting and inspecting large livestock farms.

Iowa's confined animal feeding operations create more untreated manure annually than the total sewage output of the U.S. population. An EPA report published last summer concluded that the DNR's CAFO permitting and inspection protocols did not conform to the Clean Water Act.

Federal and state officials negotiated a draft work plan to address these problems last fall, and the plan was ready to be signed in January of this year. However, the DNR requested changes to the plan based on feedback from the Iowa Farm Bureau, which tries to protect corporate agriculture from effective public oversight. Governor Terry Branstad tried to intervene with EPA officials to reduce inspections of factory farms. (Click here to read the correspondence.) To the dismay of some environmentalists, the governor also insisted that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy meet with industry representatives to discuss the CAFO inspection regime.

Although the final work plan isn't ideal and provides for fewer in-person inspections than the earlier draft, the agreement looks like a big improvement on the status quo at the DNR. After the jump I've posted statements on today's news from the DNR and environmental organizations that have been involved with this process. I also posted the seven-page work plan for inspecting thousands of CAFOs over the next five years. For more background, check out the EPA Region 7's website and the Sierra Club Iowa chapter's documents on CAFOs.

It will take a lot of follow through to make sure the DNR implements this plan. The agency indicated last fall that it would need thirteen new livestock inspector positions to meet Clean Water Act goals. Then DNR Director Chuck Gipp formally asked for eleven new positions in the 2014 budget, but Governor Branstad requested funding for only five new inspectors. Iowa Senate Democrats approved funding for thirteen new inspectors, but Iowa House Republicans supported the governor, and final budget for fiscal year 2014 included funding for just seven new DNR positions in this area.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 3204 words in story)

Iowa Congressional voting catch-up thread: Energy and environment

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 12:31:31 PM CDT

This summer the U.S. House has approved several energy-related bills, which could affect public health and the environment as well as corporations in the oil, gas and coal sectors. As we saw last year, Iowa's four U.S. representatives don't consistently split on party lines when such bills come to the House floor.

Follow me after the jump for details on the latest energy legislation approved in the lower chamber. None of these bills are likely to pass the current U.S. Senate, but they would have better prospects if Republicans won a Senate majority in the 2014 elections.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 2248 words in story)

Weekend open thread: High-tech, low return edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 09:55:00 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? I've been thinking about some high-tech failures. For instance, genetically-modified seeds were supposed to solve farmers' weed problems. Yet weeds resistant to glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide) are "gaining ground" across Iowa. The problem is worse on farms where Monsanto's Roundup Ready seeds have been planted the longest.

Rootworms "resistant to one type of genetically engineered corn" are also a growing problem. Genetically-modified seed was supposed to make corn plants poisonous to rootworm, but now farmers are "deploying more chemical pesticides than before." The outcome was predictable.

On a related note, research shows that nitrogen enrichment through added fertilizers can hurt plant diversity and productivity of grasslands in the long term.

Some Midwestern cities and towns "are absorbing a financial beating after betting big on an innovative coal-fired power plant" during the last decade. "Clean coal" was always a boondoggle.

Speaking of costly investments, the state of Iowa continues to shovel tax credits to Orascom for a fertilizer plant project that would have been built in Iowa anyway. But hey, what's another $25 million?

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Bill Northey seeking third term as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 13:16:00 PM CDT

Catching up on news from the weekend, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey held his seventh annual "BBQ bash" at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on July 13. Speaking to the crowd, Northey confirmed that he will seek a third term in 2014 and said he had raised at least $100,000 for his re-election campaign at the event. Ever since Northey ruled out running for the U.S. Senate in early May, it's been clear that he would go for another four years in the job he loves.

I've been disappointed in Northey as secretary of agriculture. He never followed through on the farmland protection initiative he announced in 2008, even though Iowa continues to lose some of the world's most productive agricultural land at an alarming rate. He has insisted on a solely voluntary approach to reducing nutrient pollution in Iowa waterways despite ample evidence that approach will fail. Record nitrate levels have been reported this spring and summer in major Iowa rivers, and the Des Moines Water Works is facing huge extra costs to make water drinkable for 15 percent of Iowa's population. Not only is Northey not part of the solution, he's digging in his heels to perpetuate the problem.

Any comments about next year's campaign for secretary of agriculture are welcome in this thread. I haven't heard yet of any Democrats planning to challenge Northey. Dusky Terry, who narrowly lost the Democratic primary for this office in 2006, could be a credible candidate. He is currently mayor of Earlham,  a small town in Dallas County.  

Discuss :: (4 Comments)
Next >>

Make a New Account



Forget your username or password?

Iowa Liberal Blogs
- Ames Progressive
- Blog For Iowa
- Essential Estrogen
- Iowa .Gif-t Shop
- Iowa Independent (archive)
- Iowa Policy Points
- Iowans for a Future That Doesn't Suck
- John Deeth
Iowa Conservative Blogs
- Hawkeye GOP
- The Bean Walker
- Caffeinated Thoughts
- The Conservative Reader: Iowa
- The Iowa Republican
Journalists' blogs and research
- 24-Hour Dorman
- Cedar Rapids Gazette government page
- Iowa Fiscal Partnership
- Iowa Policy Project
- Iowa Politics Insider
- Iowa Watchdog.org
- On Brief: Iowa's Appellate Blog
- On the Campaign Trail with Ed Tibbetts
- Newton Independent (Peter Hussmann)
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Tom Harkin (U.S. Senator)
- Bruce Braley (IA-01)
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats

Powered by: SoapBlox