# Earth Day

Events coming up this week

Earth Day is Friday, April 22, but festivals, community clean-ups and related celebrations begin this week in many Iowa communities. Details on those and other events are after the jump. As always, please post a comment or send me an e-mail if you know of another public event that should be included on this calendar.

While I was checking the Iowa Environmental Council’s calendar and April newsletter, I learned that earlier this year, the American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter office in Des Moines became the U.S. Green Building Council first LEED Platinum certified project in Iowa. Congratulations to the AIA for demonstrating how to do an office renovation in an eco-friendly way. Click here to learn more about the project’s sustainable features.  

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Bad news for Iowans who breathe air and drink water

I wish I had better news to share on Earth Day, but the Iowa Department of Natural Resources issued its annual State of the Environment report this week, and it’s not encouraging for people who like to breathe air and drink water. From Perry Beeman’s report in the Des Moines Register:

Last year culminated a three-year run in which air pollution exceeded health thresholds 125 times – up 33 percent from the previous three-year reporting period.

[Iowa DNR Director Richard] Leopold said that’s disturbing as production was down at many factories because of the economy.

Most of the problem: fine particles from hog confinements, cars and power plants, whose emissions blend ammonia and sulfuric or nitric acid in the air.

Fine particulate matter, also known as PM 2.5, has been linked to many life-threatening illnesses and causes thousands of premature deaths every year. That’s another reason to be thankful that utility companies abandoned plans to build new coal-fired power plants in Waterloo and Marshalltown last year. (Side note: could someone please inform the three “pro-life” Republican gubernatorial candidates that coal combustion is hazardous to human health? Terry Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts all favor building more coal-fired power plants in Iowa.)

As for the other major contributors to poor air quality in our state, the Iowa legislature has done little about air pollution from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) beyond passing a time- and money-wasting odor study bill in 2008. Nor have our state’s leaders done enough to fund alternate modes of transportation, which could reduce vehicle miles per capita traveled by car (and the associated fine particulate emissions).

The DNR’s report showed statistically insignificant improvements in Iowa water quality, but not enough to lift us out of the “poor” category. While new “antidegradation rules” on water quality may protect some Iowa waterways from getting worse in the future, we have a long way to go to make our lakes and rivers safe for recreation and other uses.

Public demand for usable waterways is increasing; the DNR’s report showed that more Iowans are using state parks, boating and buying fishing licenses. It’s therefore baffling that the DNR is proposing to reduce protection for 408 Iowa stream segments this year. The Iowa Environmental Council has much more background on this issue here. Public comments to the DNR are needed by April 30, and it only takes a few minutes to send a message to the relevant DNR official (click here for contact information and talking points).

For those who like to fish: please be aware of the DNR recommends eating fish from certain lakes and rivers no more often than once a week because of elevated mercury levels. Coal combustion from power plants is the main source of mercury pollution in our waterways.

Share any relevant thoughts or Earth Day plans in this thread. I see that the Sierra Club of Iowa, Moveon.Org and 1Sky are organizing a rally outside Representative Leonard Boswell’s office (300 Locust in Des Moines) at noon today to urge Boswell to oppose various “dirty air” bills proposed in Congress. They are asking people to “dress in rain gear, such as raincoats, rain hats, umbrellas, galoshes, etc., to make the point of increasing severe weather due to climate change.”

There’s also an Earth Day Trash Bash cleanup event in downtown Des Moines this afternoon, followed by a celebration in the Simon Estes ampitheater. Here’s a description of last year’s cleanup.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

This April is shaping up to be a relatively quiet month in Iowa politics, with the legislature already adjourned for the year. However, after the jump you’ll find details for many events coming up soon. Please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

I have also posted information about an internship opportunity for women who would like to work on a sustainable farm, as well as a grant opportunity called “Iowa Sun4Schools.” It’s for Iowa schools that may want to install a solar array: “In addition to supplying electricity to the facility, the solar array will serve as an educational and research tool, and as a symbol of the schools commitment to saving energy and reducing their carbon footprint.”

UPDATE: Iowa nonprofit, charitable and government organizations have until April 16 to nominate people for the Governor’s Volunteer Award.

SECOND UPDATE: The Fred Phelps freak show is coming back to Des Moines on April 10 to protest a constitutional law symposium on same-sex marriage at Drake University. Click here for details about counter-protests being planned.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama’s administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn’t have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can’t say I wasn’t warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year’s political events are welcome in this thread.

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Open thread on Obama in Newton for Earth Day

I won’t be able to watch President Barack Obama’s Earth Day appearance in Newton live, but I’m putting up this thread so that others can talk about it.

Iowa Global Warming will be twittering the event here and will upload video at these sites:



I’m all for green jobs and boosting renewable energy production. Let’s make sure the jobs in this industry pay well with good benefits, though.

I’ll update with thread later with more details from and reaction to Obama’s speech in Newton.

UPDATE: The text of Obama’s remarks (as prepared) is after the jump. Lots of good stuff in there, such as:

“Today I am announcing that my administration is taking another historic step. Through the Department of Interior, we are establishing a program to authorize ­ for the first time ­ the leasing of federal waters for projects to generate electricity from wind as well as from ocean currents and other renewable sources,” Obama said to about 200 in at Trinity Structural Towers in Newton.

“It’s a win-win. It’s good for the environment. It’s great for the economy,”

he said.

Obama continued to advocate for a cap and trade policy to limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Iowa Democrats twittered that the president called for connecting Des Moines to Chicago via high-speed rail, but I didn’t find that in the prepared remarks (just a general statement about investing in high-speed rail).

The Des Moines Register found it noteworthy that the president

didn’t mention ethanol by name.

In particular, ethanol interests might have hoped that Obama would at least put in a good word for the expansion of the allowable blend of ethanol with unleaded gasoline for conventional automobile engines from the current 10 percent to 15 percent.

But Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said he wasn’t upset.

“Frankly, the Environmental Protection Agency (which will make the E-15 decision) gets sued all the time and one of the things they’re hit with is that their decisions might be based on politics rather than technology or science,” said Shaw.

“So it is probably better for us that the President not mention E-15 today,” Shaw continued. “The science is on our side. But we don’t need people challenging the EPA later, after they make a favorable decision on E-15, saying that it was based on politics and using the President’s remarks as evidence.”

Maybe the Register meant that Obama didn’t mention E-15 by name, or maybe the president deviated from his prepared remarks, which included this paragraph:

My budget also makes unprecedented investments in mass transit, high-speed rail, and in our highway system to reduce the congestion that wastes money, time, and energy. And it invests in advanced biofuels and ethanol, which, as I’ve said, is an important transitional fuel to help us end our dependence on foreign oil while moving toward clean, homegrown sources of energy.

If you watched the video, please tell us what you thought.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

I still don’t have many details about President Barack Obama’s upcoming appearance in Newton on Earth Day (April 22). He plans to speak about energy, and presumably his focus will be on renewable energy and the potential for “green jobs” to boost the economy. Two manufacturers in the wind energy industry have located in Newton since the former Maytag plant shut down.

I will post more details about the president’s visit when they become available. Meanwhile, click “there’s more” to read what else is going on around the state for the next couple of weeks.

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something important I’ve left out.

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Obama returning to Iowa and other events coming up during the next two weeks

President Barack Obama will speak about energy in Newton on Earth Day (April 22), a White House official told the Des Moines Register today. Two manufacturers in the wind energy industry have located in Newton since the former Maytag plant shut down.

Click “there’s more” for information about other events during the second half of April.

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something important I’ve left out.

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Events coming up this week

It’s a very busy week. Please put up a comment if you know of anything important going on that I’ve left out.

Tuesday, April 29:

IowaPolitics.com and Drake University are hosting a forum at which top leaders from Iowa’s House and Senate will discuss the 2008 session and election year. The forum will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Levitt Hall in Old Main at 2507 University Ave. on the Drake University campus. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. More details about the event and how to reserve a spot are after the jump.

The DNR will convene a stakeholders meeting at 1 pm and a public meeting at 6:30 pm in the Scott County Administrative Center, 600 W. 4th St in Davenport, to discuss air pollution in Scott County. A recent DNR report showed that fine particulate matter air pollutant levels in Scott County have exceeded Clean Air Act standards from 2005 through 2007. More background and details are after the jump.

Ed Fallon will appear on Mac’s World Radio Show, 98.3 WOW.FM (show starts at 2:45 pm)

Metro Arts Alliance of Greater Des Moines and other hosts present a reception to honor the artists selected for the City of Des Moines 2007 Performance Report, Following Your Lead: The Road Ahead, 5-7 pm 800 19th Street (corner of 19th and Center) in Des Moines

Sierra Club, Iowa Global Warming Campaign and I-RENEW present the Everyday is Earth Day event, featuring a free film screening of “Global Warming: the Signs and the Science,” 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Cedar Falls Public Library, 524 Main St. in Cedar Falls (more details about this event are after the jump)

Wednesday, April 30:

The DNR will hold a stakeholders meeting at 1 pm and a public meeting at 6:30 pm to discuss air pollution in Muscatine County (more background after the jump). The meetings will be at the Muscatine County Conservation Board Environmental Learning Center, 3300 Cedar Street in Muscatine.

Tom Henderson, chairman of Polk County Democrats (live) and Comedian Jeff Kreisler (via phone) will appear on Mac’s World, 98.3 WOW-FM, 3 pm to 4 pm.

Thursday, May 1:

One Iowa presents May Day Mayhem–Free Food, Cheap Drinks with other LGBT and progressive professionals. Special guest Evan Wolfson from Freedom to Marry. Star Bar, 2811 Ingersoll in Des Moines, from 5 pm to 7 pm. Light appetizers, cash bar, and a chance to mingle with other LGBTA Professionals. Please RSVP by April 30th (288-4019).

Ed Fallon will be at Green Drinks, Saints Rest Cafe, 919 Broad St. in Grinnell, beginning at 7 pm

Friday, May 2:

Ed Fallon will be at the Eastside Senior Center, 1231 E. 26th St. in Des Moines, beginning at 11:45 am

Comedian Jeff Kreisler will do a show for the Polk County Democrats, Val Air Ballroom, 301 Ashworth Road, West Des Moines. Dinner will be served at 5:30 P.M., program begins at 6:30 P.M. Cash bar available. Regular tickets – $25.00 per person (Dinner and show only) 5:30 P.M. Host Reception with Elected Officials and Jeff Kreisler – $75.00 per person (includes dinner and drink tickets). Tickets are available by calling 515-285-1800; for $27.50 at the Val Air box office or through any Ticketmaster outlet.

Saturday, May 3:

Iowa Citizen Action Network 2008 annual convention, 10 am to 5 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn, 8600 North Park Drive in Johnston (suburb of Des Moines). Jim Hightower will be the keynote speaker. More details about the day’s workshops are after the jump, or you can see a flier for this event at


Iowa Corridor’s second annual Hike to Help Refugees in Iowa City (more details are after the jump)

Maifest parade in the Amana Colonies, starting at 10 am

I-RENEW is hosting a tour of the Clipper Turbine Works, the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the U.S., in Cedar Rapids at 1 pm. At 3 pm, Brian Crowe from Iowa’s Office of Energy Independence will speak about the agency’s activities at the Coffee Talk Café, located off Kirkwood Avenue down the road from Clipper. More details about these events are after the jump.

The Tulip festival in Pella runs from May 1 to May 3 as well.

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Notable events coming up this week

Tuesday, April 22:

Trash Pick-Up on the Downtown Streetscapes & Trails in Des Moines, 1-4 pm. This clean-up event is organized by Operation Downtown, Des Moines Parks and Recreation, and Riverfront Development Authority. For more information on how you can make a difference or to request a reservation form, email ParksVolunteer@dmgov.org or call (515) 208- 0277.

Earthapalooza at the Iowa City Public Library, 6 pm to 9 pm (Details are at the end of this post.)

Grinnell College student rally at the South Forum Lounge, 7 pm (Ed Fallon will be there.)

Wednesday, April 23:

Democracy for America brings back “Night School”:

Join us as we kick off the 2008 semester with Writing a Field Plan on Wednesday April 23 starting at 8:30pm Eastern.

Our special guest trainer will be Helen Strain, from the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood. Helen will provide expert advice and answer your questions as we outline how to write a campaign blueprint for victory: The Field Plan.

RSVP now: www.dfalink.com/fieldplan

I’ve put more details about that event after the jump.

Thursday, April 24:

Green drinks at the Mars Cafe, 2318 University Avenue in Des Moines, starting at 5:30 pm (Ed Fallon will be there.)

House party for Ed Fallon at Chet’s Firestation, 1041 8th St. in Des Moines, starting at 7 pm. “If you want to join us, call or email Jamie at jamie@fallonforcongress or (515) 822-4284.”

Saturday, April 26:

Sustainable Ecological Economic Development (S.E.E.D.) Mid-Term Conference at North High School in Davenport, 9 am to 4 pm. I’ve put the press release about this event after the jump.

House party for Ed Fallon at the home of Rachel Tone and Bob Schulte, 726 Polk Blvd Des Moines, 5 pm to 7:30 pm. “Come join us for live piano music with Sam Salamone and wine/cheese. Also for every $50 donation you will get a raffle ticket and a chance to win door prizes of the hosts’ art and jewelry! RSVP Jamie at (515) 822-4284.”

Note: I can’t find details about house parties or other campaign appearances on Boswell’s campaign website, but if someone can point me to a place where I can find those, I will start including them in my posts about upcoming events.  

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Obama rally/Earth Day events open thread

I won’t be posting often this weekend. I’m going to visit cousins for a Passover seder today (chag sameach to the Jewish Bleeding Heartland readers!). Tomorrow I’ll be spending a lot of time at Earth Day in the Junction.

Have a great weekend, and put up a diary if you’ve got anything interesting to report.

Consider this an open thread to talk about the big Obama rally for change in Des Moines today, or about  any Earth Day events this weekend.

Lots of Earth Day-related events coming up

This Sunday is Earth Day, and many groups have scheduled events to capitalize on the increased awareness of environmental issues that comes around this time every year.

Saturday, April 19:

Blues for Greens Earth Day Festival, Walnut Street bridge in downtown Des Moines, 9:30 am to 4:00 pm. Lots of eco-friendly exhibitors and music acts. For more information, go to www.bluesforgreens.com. (Note: Ed Fallon will speak at this event at 10:30 am.)

Free classes on babywearing (10 am) and cloth diapering (11 am) by local expert Sarah Reid in the Urbandale Library Conference Room. She writes, “I’ll bring my giant bag of slings and do some demos and discuss the benefits of babywearing and pros and cons of each type of carrier, and then will have open time for questions and trying on the carriers. The diapering class, I bring all my diapers that I bring to the meetings, plus more, and walk through the basics of cloth diapering, including types of diapers, pros and cons of types of diapers, how to launder, etc. We’ll also have time for questions.”

Energy Experts Open House at 527 S.W. Carriage Ct., Ankeny, IA, 11 am to 3pm. People building or remodeling homes can “learn about the house as a system” as well as about geothermal heating and cooling, windows, insulation and more. R.S.V.P. to info@PrairieFoam.com. Go to www.PrairieFoam.com for details.

Wayne J. Bingham, Architect & Author, is speaking about straw bale homes at the Des Moines Art Center at 2:00 pm. (This event is hosted by the Art Center, Center on Sustainable Communities, and Earth Day in the Junction.) Bingham will focus on choices for building shelters that account for climate stability, air and water quality, ecosystems and biodiversity. Consider attending this free lecture by the author of Small Strawbale: Natural Homes, Projects and Designs and Natural Timber Frame Homes.

Nation for Change Obama Rally, 2:30 pm at the west side of the Capitol, E. 9th St. and Grand, Des Moines. (Note: Ed Fallon will appear at this event.)

Sunday, April 20:

Earth Day in the Junction, Railroad Park in Valley Junction, West Des Moines, 9 am to 3 pm. Lots of free events, and lots of exhibitors. The Fallon campaign will be there, but I haven’t heard whether the Boswell campaign will have a table as well. (I will be helping staff tables for two non-profit groups I’m involved with.) For more information on the exhibitors and the events scheduled during the day:


Tuesday, April 22:

Trash Pick-Up on the Downtown Streetscapes & Trails in Des Moines, 1-4 pm. This clean-up event is organized by Operation Downtown, Des Moines Parks and Recreation, and Riverfront Development Authority. For more information on how you can make a difference or to request a reservation form, email ParksVolunteer@dmgov.org or call (515) 208- 0277.

Earthapalooza at the Iowa City Public Library, 6 pm to 9 pm. According to a press release:

The Iowa Global Warming Campaign, Sierra Club and I-Renew are hosting a special “Earth Day” event on Tuesday, April 22, which is open to members of the public. The event offers free admission and refreshments and will feature a film screening of “Global Warming: the Signs and the Science.”

(More details about the Earthapalooza event are after the jump.)

Please use this as an open thread to let us know about other events coming up over the next few days.

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Earth Day events

If you live in central Iowa, you’ll have a lot of fun events to choose from this weekend:

1. Saturday, April 21, “Blues for Greens” event at Water Works Park, Des Moines–10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Water Works Park is west of Fleur Drive and north of George Flagg Parkway.) 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resource, in association with the Iowa Clean Cities Coalition, and the Iowa American Lung Association, is planning an event that will feature E85, electric, hybrid, diesel, propane, natural gas and flex fuel vehicles at Waterworks Park in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday April 21st, 2007. 

“Blues for Greens” features environmentally friendly organizations, with blues music and ethnic food vendors acting as the backdrop for this family-friendly event.

2. Sunday, April 22: Earth Day at Greenwood Park ( 4500 Grand Ave., Des Moines ), 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Several activities that incorporate nature through the arts have been planned for people of all ages.

Go here and click 2007 Earth Day: A Greenwood Experience for more information about this free event sponsored by Metro Waste Authority, Des Moines Parks and Recreation, Polk County Conservation, Metro Arts Alliance and Open Arts.

3. Sunday, April 22: Earth Day in the Junction, Historic Valley Junction, West Des Moines. Click here for more information about this event.

5K Run ~ 10 am

Kids’ Fun Run ~ 11:30 am

Earth Day Celebration ~ 12 – 5 pm

Below are some of the activities planned:

An Inconvenient Truth will be played throughout the afternoon.

Rasmussen Bike will be providing free bike check ups to anyone who bikes to the event.

Heard Gardens is going to be doing a planting demonstration.

Toyota of Des Moines will be bringing hi-bred cars to the event.

Plus…local exhibitors, live music, kids’ activities and food vendors.

Feel free to post information about Earth Day events in your area.