IA-Sen: Warning signs for Joni Ernst

Iowans haven’t voted out a sitting U.S. senator since 1984, but several recent events have caused political observers to question Senator Joni Ernst’s strengths going into her first re-election bid.

Inside Elections changed its rating on Iowa’s 2020 U.S. Senate race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican” this month. (Sabato’s Crystal Ball already rated the IA-Sen race “lean R,” while the Cook Political Report still sees a GOP hold likely.) Writing at the National Journal on October 20, Josh Kraushaar cited several “major red flags suggesting Iowa is a much bigger battleground than Republicans anticipated at the beginning of the year.”

Ernst told supporters at a closed-door fundraiser with Vice President Mike Pence this month that she is the fifth most-vulnerable senator, according to Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News.

What’s going on?

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Trump's EPA punishes renewable fuels and farmers

David Weaver farms in Greene County and was the 2018 Democratic candidate in Iowa House district 47. He wrote this commentary after October 1, when Reuters reported that the Environmental Protection Agency had halted work on biofuels policy adjustment, and before October 4, when the Trump administration announced an agreement on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Republicans hailed the plan, while Democrats described it as vague and inadequate. -promoted by Laura Belin

Well, you have to wonder when a farmer from Rippey decides that it is time to challenge the statistical findings of an economist (and a well known and very well-respected economist like Dave Swenson), but here is my mighty swing at explaining why the ethanol industry’s problems are a demand-driven crisis, not a supply-driven crisis as Mr. Swenson contends.

My initial premise is that the sky is NOT falling. Rather, the ceiling has been lowering itself at a steady rate since Donald Trump took office and installed his EPA leadership. The demise of three Iowa ethanol plants during the past month are merely the first indications of the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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Our biggest ethanol problem? There’s too much of it

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson challenges the conventional wisdom on a hot political topic. -promoted by Laura Belin

The sky is falling and Midwest rural economies are in danger of collapse. So say the nation’s ethanol producers, corn farmers, and like-minded politicians.

Their collective fingers are pointing at the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s granting of 31 waivers to U.S. refineries lowering the amount of biofuels they are required to blend into the petro-fuels they distribute. The waivers, the stakeholders claim, are the cause of a string of biorefinery closings and idlings.

Working through this, however, does not lead one to necessarily conclude that the infamous 31 waivers are the chief culprits.

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Saturday's other presidential candidate event

Ira Lacher reports on the People’s Forum in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

While thousands sat in single-lane traffic at Water Works Park hoping to hear seventeen presidential candidates deliver ten-minute stump speeches, several thousand Midwesterners from five states crammed into the Iowa Events Center on September 21 to listen to four candidates explain at length why they deserved the votes of progressives.

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Demand clean water now

Chris Jones is a research engineer (IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering) at the University of Iowa. The Cedar Rapids Gazette published a version of this essay on August 28. -promoted by Laura Belin

August 26, 2019

Prologue: Some time ago, I wrote an essay for the Iowa Ideas Magazine , which was published recently by the Cedar Rapids Gazette. That piece forms the bulk of this essay. I received no compensation from the Gazette, and the title here is mine and not the Gazette’s.

I am 58 years old, grew up in Iowa, and have lived here most of my adult life. Although some things have improved and exceptions can be found, for the most part the state’s water quality has never been good or even adequate during the span of my life.

Some of this connects to decisions made 100+ years ago by our great-great-grandparents, including my own. But some or most of it is because of recalcitrance and the insistence that we tolerate the status quo. I reject that. Hence the title.

I’ve slightly edited the essay I sent to the Gazette. The new version follows.

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Trump's trade war: Be careful what you wish for

Jon Muller: The Trump administration’s two stated goals “are incompatible to the point of being mutually exclusive in a peaceful world.” -promoted by Laura Belin

There is a consensus in the U.S. that China is a bad actor. It is not so much my goal to destroy that consensus, though most of its underpinnings are based in fantasy, nationalism, and the convenient politics of fear.

Rather, this essay is a critique of current U.S. policy, and the absurdity of the disconnect between what we say we want versus what we’re asking for.

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