Public comment period on Iowa Nutrient Strategy extended two weeks

(Good news, though it would have been nice for DNR to announce the extension a little earlier. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

In November on Bleeding Heartland, desmoinesdem posted a review of reaction to Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which aspires to clean up the nitrogen and phosphorous pollution that together with Iowa's chronic soil erosion is keeping the state's waters brown and green instead of clear and clean.

Now the public comment deadline for the new strategy has been extended by two weeks, giving Iowans one more chance to weigh in before the comment period ends January 18.

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Upcoming conference to focus on multiple benefits of environmental stewardship

(I'm active with the IEC and look forward to this conference every year. I hope administrators from other Iowa colleges and universities will come hear about the great things happening at Luther College. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Iowans have long known good stewardship of the state’s natural resources is essential for protecting these assets for future generations.  But now, in an era of pressing environmental challenges and a struggling national economy, more and more Iowans are also looking to environmental protection as a savvy business decision.

The Iowa Environmental Council will highlight their stories at its daylong annual conference, Finding Iowa’s Way:  Economic Solutions for a Healthier Environment, to be held October 4 in Des Moines.

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Fed and State Budget Cuts Eroding Environmental Protections

New YouTube Video: Environmental Protections Undermined Nationwide

A national network of state level environmental organizations, including the Iowa Environmental Council, has produced a new, YouTube video: “Our values, our environment, our future,” to draw attention to the impact of current and proposed state and federal budget cuts on environmental safeguards across the nation.

Melissa Gavin, Executive Director of the State Environmental Leadership Program, explains: “Basic protections for air and water quality are on the chopping block in states throughout the country. At the same time, EPA’s budget has also been under attack. People need to know that part of what is getting slashed is our capacity to enforce laws that protect health and quality of life—even funds that help us maintain sewage treatment and drinking water purification plants.”


Seven- and three-minute versions of the video are available for viewing at the following urls:
Our values, our environment, our future – 7 minutes
Our Values, our environment, our future – 3 minutes

Please share this video with others!

Dead Zone to be Largest Ever - Iowa Farm Runoff Contributes

(Here's more background on the link between corn-based ethanol and the Dead Zone. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Scientists are predicting this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone will be the largest ever.

In January of 2008, USGS identified commercial fertilizers and animal manure from farmland in 9 states as the cause of over 70 percent of the Dead Zone pollution. Evidence is mounting that the mandated push to increase corn production – one of the most fertilizer intensive crops – for ethanol exacerbates water quality problems within the states and in the Gulf.

The 9 states contributing over 70 percent of the dead zone-causing nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants are: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Mississippi.

In April of 2009, the U.S. Geological Survey identified 42 Iowa watersheds as among the top 150 watersheds contributing too much nitrogen and/or phosphorus to the Gulf of Mexico and the resulting Dead Zone.

More details at this science blog by Eric Berger with good link to an explanation of the Dead Zone.

New Report: Iowa Losing Topsoil at Alarming Rate

(No worries, it's just priceless Iowa topsoil. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

A new report, which includes video images, shows that across wide swaths of Iowa our rich, dark agricultural soil is being swept away at alarming rates, which in some areas are 12 times higher than average soil loss estimates from national studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.

More after the jump …

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Lots of Questions for Branstad Regarding Water Quality

Water quality monitoring and other water programs at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources–some federally mandated–are meant to protect the public health.  Yet a proposal to transfer several of these programs to the Department of Agriculture, say legislators, comes from Governor Branstad and is about making the programs “more efficient.”  How will these programs actually be more efficient if operated by IDALS? No one, who understands the actual operations of each program, seems to know.

With the potential public health impact, where are the studies that show that, unlike every other state in the nation, Iowa's water programs will be run “more efficiently” AND still be protective of public health if overseen by an elected official whose mission is “Advancing Iowa's Agricultural Interests,” when many of Iowa's agricultural groups have historically and actively lobbied against water quality protections?

Bill numbers are currently being assigned to these study bills, which passed out of Senate and House Committees last week. 

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