Iowa Consumers Forced to Make Risky Investment in Nuclear

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 9, 2010                                          
Contact: Eric Nost, Environment Iowa
515-243-5835 | enost@environmentiowa.org

The Iowa Senate voted 37-13 Tuesday afternoon to allow Mid-American Energy to investigate the feasibility of building new nuclear reactors in the state. The utility wants to hike its rates – for the first time in over a decade – by $15 million in order to pay for the study.

Environment Iowa state associate Eric Nost issued a statement in response, “Nuclear power is a not a proven solution to our environmental and economic crises. We call on leaders at all levels of government to invest in what we know works – clean, homegrown energy.

“Energy efficiency and wind and solar energy can create jobs when we need them – now.”

At the federal level, Congress and the President are debating similar proposals from utilities that would dole out massive federal loan guarantees for the construction of new reactors. President Obama recently announced the first of the loans would go to two new plants in Georgia.

The Congressional Budget Office expects half of all loans made to nuclear reactors will default.

Iowans will not only be paying more on utility bills, but their federal tax forms, too, if the nuclear industry is successful in getting these kinds of bailouts,” Nost said.

Environment Iowa released a report, Generating Failure, in December that analyzed
the role, under a best-case scenario, that nuclear power could play in reducing emissions. Key findings of the report include:

  • To avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming, the U.S. needs to cut power plant emissions roughly in half over the next 10 years.
  • Nuclear power is too slow to contribute to this effort. No new reactors are now under construction and building a single reactor could take 10 years or longer, while costing billions of dollars.
  • Even if the nuclear industry somehow managed to build 100 new nuclear reactors by 2030, nuclear power could reduce total U.S. emissions over the next 20 years by only 12 percent.

In contrast to building new nuclear plants, efficiency and renewable energy can immediately and significantly reduce electricity consumption and carbon emissions. The report found that:

  • Efficiency programs are already cutting electricity consumption by 1-2 percent annually in leading states, and the wind industry is already building the equivalent of three nuclear reactors per year in wind farms, many of which are in Iowa.
  • Building 100 new reactors would require an up-front investment on the order of $600 billion dollars – money which could cut at least twice as much carbon pollution by 2030 if invested in clean energy. Taking into account the ongoing costs of running the nuclear plants, clean energy could deliver 5 times more pollution-cutting progress per dollar.
  • Nuclear power is not necessary to provide carbon-free electricity for the long haul. The need for base-load power is exaggerated and small-scale, local energy solutions can actually enhance the reliability of the electric grid

Environment Iowa is a state-based, citizen-funded advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open spaces.

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Vote No on Nuclear Study Bill

Over the past few months we've asked for your help in achieving federal energy reform. Thank you so much! Unfortunately, powerful interests continue to block any progress in Congress. So, we need to shape our energy future right here in Iowa right now.

The Iowa Senate is considering SF 2314/HF 2399, legislation that would require MidAmerican Energy to conduct a feasibility study on nuclear power using ratepayer money. Though it also provides incentives for utilities to switch existing coal-fired power plants to other fuel sources, it does nothing to increase energy efficiency or renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The Iowa Senate may debate the bill today.

We've done the research – nuclear is a wasteful, ineffective approach to our energy and climate crises. Iowa needs to prioritize clean, domestic energy sources that will help businesses, farmers, and homeowners now – wind energy, solar energy, energy efficiency. 

Contact your state senator today and tell him or her to vote no on SF 2314/HF 2399 unless it is balanced with policies to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

You can find your senator and contact info here. If you know your legislator, you can call the Senate switchboard: (515) 281-3371.

Eric Nost, Environment Iowa

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Plug-in Electric Cars Lower Global Warming Emissions, Oil Consumption and Unhealthy Air Pollution

Contact: Julian Boggs | 859.358.2980 | jboggs@environmentiowa.org

Des Moines, IA—Increasing America’s use of plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid cars would dramatically reduce emissions that cause global warming and air pollution and would curb dependence on oil, according to a new white paper released today by Environment Iowa.

“With more Americans focused on the environmental and economic consequences of our oil dependence, carmakers are scrambling to offer customers the cleanest, most fuel efficient cars”, said Environment Iowa Federal Field Associate Julian Boggs.  “Dramatically ramping up electric vehicles can bolster America’s efforts to wean ourselves off of oil and to reduce pollution that causes global warming.” 

Plug-in vehicles are being profiled in an unprecedented way at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week. A “plug-in” car is one that can be recharged from the electric grid. Some plug-in cars run on electricity alone, while others are paired with small gasoline engines to create  plug-in hybrids. Many plug-in hybrids can get over 100 miles per gallon, while plug-in electric vehicles consume no gasoline at all.   Plug-in vehicles produce no direct tailpipe pollution when operating on electricity and there is already a vast electric power infrastructure to fuel them.   As renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, meet a larger share of our electricity needs, electric cars could contribute to little or no air pollution. 

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Take Action on Water Quality in Iowa

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Iowa's waters are dangerously polluted. The problem is caused by big industries (e.g. coal plants, meat processing facilities) which dump straight into our waterways toxic chemicals that cause cancer and reproductive and developmental disorders (see our 10/2009 report). Large-scale farming operations are also implicated.

The results are devastating for the health of human and natural communities across the state. The Iowa River, an important recreational resource and supplier of the Iowa City area's drinking water, has been listed as “endangered.” In Des Moines, the water works had to stop drawing drinking water from the Raccoon River in September because of the growth of pollution-fed algae.

Whether in Iowa City or Des Moines, we all are near some body of water and these waters are where we smim, fish, canoe, and indeed where many of us get our drinking water. It is imperative that we protect them.

Many Iowans know that the DNR has recently nominated certain waters in the state as “outstanding waters,” sparing them from further pollution. This process, known as the “anti-degradation” rule-making process, is required by federal law under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Yet what many Iowans may not know is that, like the Iowa River, the CWA is itself fast becoming endangered.

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Iowa Companies to Receive Over $10 million in Clean Energy Tax Credits

President Obama announced today that the Department of Energy will issue $2.3 billion in clean energy manufacturing tax credits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – the vast majority of which will be used to spur more energy efficient buildings, and wind and solar power. 183 projects in 43 states will receive tax credits to help create tens of thousands of high quality jobs and increase domestic manufacturing of advanced clean energy technologies. Among the leading recipients in Iowa is TPI Composites in Newton, which will get 3.9 million dollars to expand its production of wind turbine blades. (A list of all Iowa's recipients is available here.)
TPI's Newton plant, formerly a Maytag washing machine factory, is symbolic of clean energy’s potential to transform and revitalize Iowa’s manufacturing base and was the site of the President's 2009 Earth Day address. American Railcar Industries in Fort Dodge hopes to follow TPI’s lead and will receive 5.35 million dollars to transform a local rail car plant to produce 500 steel towers a year for large-scale commercial wind turbines.

Eric Nost, Environment Iowa state associate, released the following statement in response:

“Energy efficiency, wind, and solar power have the potential to revive the nation's economy, create millions of good jobs, and stop global warming. The President’s announcement today will help Iowa continue to lead the way toward a new, clean energy future.

“While the Administration’s actions and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are substantial first steps, Congress must follow the President’s lead and take immediate action. In order to create jobs and heal our ailing economy, right now the Senate needs to pass comprehensive clean energy and global warming legislation.

“We thank Senator Harkin for investing in Iowa through the ARRA and urge him to work now to pass strong legislation that further encourages these kinds of clean energy projects and the jobs they create, makes us more energy independent, and cuts pollution fast enough to stave off the worst effects of global warming.”


Environment Iowa is a state-wide, citizen-funded advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open spaces.  

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Environment Iowa Applauds State's Congressional Champs

Eric Nost, Environment Iowa | (515) 243-5835; cell (319) 621-0075 | enost@environmentiowa.org

Senator Tom Harkin (D) and Representative Leonard Boswell (D – 3rd District) voted for the environment 100 percent of the time in the past year and a half, according to the annual Congressional Scorecard released today by Environment Iowa.

Environment Iowa is releasing the scorecard as it continues its campaign to pass legislation in Congress to promote clean energy and cut global warming pollution.

“These scorecards are an important tool to educate Iowans about the voting records of our elected officials,” said Environment Iowa fellow Eric Nost. “They show that Senator Harkin and Congressmen Boswell have consistently decided to put the economy and the environment ahead of special interests. For instance, in the past year and a half, they voted to invest an unprecedented $80 billion in the kind of clean energy projects Iowa is uniquely poised to lead and benefit from.”

“Iowa is a national leader in the production and use of clean, home-grown sources of energy, and this industry continues to create jobs and grow our state's economy,” said Senator Harkin in a statement. “I am pleased to have supported legislation that reduces our dependence on foreign fuels, protects our environment and natural resources, and makes investments in the new energy economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress as we continue to address these important issues.”

Environment Iowa scored seven votes in the Senate ranging from an economic recovery bill with investments in public transit and energy efficiency to legislation saving the nation's coasts from offshore drilling.

In the House of Representatives, Environment Iowa scored 15 votes including funding to make schools more energy efficient and legislation protecting the Great Lakes.

Represntative Boswell and Senator Harkin were the only members of Congress from Iowa to receive a 100 percent score.

Representative Dave Loebsack (D), who represents Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, received a 93 percent. Represenative Bruce Braley (D), who represents Waterloo, Davenport, and Dubuque, earned an 80 percent. These numbers include a few absences from key votes that occurred during the floods of 2008.

With the help of these congressmen the 111th Congress has made significant progress in several key areas. In June the House passed a landmark bill to promote clean energy and limit global warming pollution.The Senate has yet to vote on its version of the legislation.

“We urge other members of Iowa's congressional delegation to work to strengthen our environmental laws—to curb global warming pollution, transition the country towards a cleaner energy future, and protect our most treasured waterways,” concluded Nost.


Environment Iowa is citizen-based advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open spaces.

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