Tom Harkin and Leonard Boswell are good people and good Democrats, so it’s disappointing to read in the Sunday Des Moines Register that they are unwilling to take a stand against building new coal-fired power plans in Marshalltown and Waterloo.
It could hardly be more clear that building new coal-fired plants is bad for the environment, bad for the public’s health, and a net loss for Iowa’s economy (since we would be importing all the coal used in the plants).
Ed Fallon categorically opposes building new coal-fired power plants in Iowa. In the article I linked above, Boswell said he hadn’t studied the issue closely, because the proposed plants are located outside Iowa’s third Congressional district. Fallon has the right response:
Fallon said even though the plants would be outside Boswell’s district, some central Iowa towns would be downwind from the Marshalltown facility.
“It clearly affects our district, and because of concerns about greenhouse gas, it concerns our whole planet,” said Fallon, a former state representative who opposes construction of any new coal-fired plants.
Jennifer Oredson of Des Moines, the Greenpeace member who asked about the plants, said she had mixed feelings about the answers from Harkin and Boswell. She said her group opposes the plants, but she appreciated that both men are pushing for more conservation and alternative sources of energy.
She particularly noted Boswell’s support of the Safe Climate Act, which aims to limit greenhouse gases. But she said her group would not endorse a candidate in the primary.
By the way, Representatives Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) signed onto the Safe Climate Act months earlier than Boswell. Boswell only took that position in December, when rumors of Fallon’s likely primary challenge were circulating.
In related news, Boswell was on Iowa Public Television this weekend saying he is more qualified than Fallon to represent the district. He also brought up Fallon’s support for Ralph Nader in 2000, which seems to be Boswell’s strongest card to play.
But Boswell’s comments on policy during that television program suggest that he is feeling the heat from Fallon’s criticism:
On other issues, Boswell said:
– Congress should consider repealing the North American Free Trade Agreement, which “hasn’t worked well.” Fallon opposes NAFTA and other free-trade agreements. Boswell supported a recent trade agreement with Peru.
– The country should look for ways to burn coal in efficient, environmentally friendly ways perhaps even “cleaning” Iowa’s high-sulfur coal. Fallon wants a moratorium on new coal plants, which are a chief source of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change.
Fallon has said Boswell supports greater use of coal and backed $14 billion in tax breaks and incentives for oil and gas companies.
– He supported tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars after voting against an earlier measure. “We recently raised the fuel-efficiency standard. If you don’t want to put people out of work, and not cause a new problem, you have to look at it carefully.”
– He supports removing troops from Iraq, but opposed a bill that would have led to immediate withdrawal, something that he believed would have cost too many lives. Boswell said he originally supported the war based on the administration’s statement that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, later disputed. Fallon has said he opposed the war all along.
I saw Fallon yesterday at the Natural Living Expo in Des Moines, and it looked like a lot of people were signing up to volunteer.
Also this weekend, the Des Moines Register reported that Fallon has raised about $130,000 for his campaign and has 16 paid staffers.