# Energy



Governor's plan would gut independence of Iowa Consumer Advocate

First in a series analyzing Governor Kim Reynolds’ plan to restructure state government.

Attorney General Brenna Bird would gain direct control over the office charged with representing Iowa consumers on issues related to utilities, under Governor Kim Reynolds’ proposed restructuring of state government.

House Study Bill 126, which lays out the governor’s plan over more than 1,500 pages, contains several provisions undermining the independence of the Office of Consumer Advocate. Iowa House State Government Committee chair Jane Bloomingdale introduced the legislation on February 1.

The Office of Consumer Advocate’s mission is to represent consumers on issues relating to gas and electric utilities and telecommunications services, “with the goal of maintaining safe, reliable, reasonably-priced, and nondiscriminatory utility services.” Much of the office’s work involves matters before the Iowa Utilities Board, which regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities, Alliant Energy and MidAmerican Energy.

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Will Iowans' loyalty to Kevin McCarthy be rewarded?

UPDATE: All four Iowans received coveted committee assignments on January 11, which are discussed here. Original post follows.

The U.S. House spent most of last week mired in the longest-running attempt to elect a speaker since before the Civil War. Iowa’s four Republicans stood behind their caucus leader Kevin McCarthy from the first ballot on January 3 to the fifteenth ballot after midnight on January 7.

Iowa’s House delegation lacks any long-serving members; three are beginning their second terms, and Representative Zach Nunn was elected for the first time in 2022.

As House members receive committee assignments later this month, where the Iowans land could signal how much influence they have with GOP leadership.

Traditionally, members of Congress who publicly oppose their party’s leader are punished. But McCarthy’s team made so many concessions in search of votes for speaker that several Republican holdouts could be rewarded with prime committee assignments—arguably at the expense of those who were loyal to McCarthy throughout.

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GOP leaders in deep red Iowa county object to CO2 pipelines

“I did not see this coming,” tweeted Carolyn Raffensperger, an environmental lawyer and the executive director of the Science & Environmental Health Network. She was referring to the Hancock County Republican Central Committee asking the Iowa Utilities Board to reject proposed carbon dioxide pipelines.

Republican-controlled boards of supervisors in dozens of Iowa counties (including Hancock) have formally objected to CO2 pipeline plans in their jurisdictions. But the December 19 letter, which the utilities board published on December 29, appears to be the first time a county GOP organization has weighed in.

Republican candidates routinely receive more than 70 percent of the vote in this part of north central Iowa, and Democrats have not fielded candidates lately for most Hancock County offices.

The Hancock GOP committee argued against the pipelines on four grounds. Although only one company (Summit Carbon Solutions) has proposed a route crossing Hancock County, the signers asked the board to file their objections to all CO2 pipelines.

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Corporations exploit CO2 pipeline regulatory gaps in tax credit gold rush

Carolyn Raffensperger is the executive director of the Science & Environmental Health Network. Sheri Deal-Tyne is a researcher for the Science & Environmental Health Network.

A contentious battle wages in the Midwest, Gulf states, and California over Carbon Capture and Storage and siting of CO2 pipelines. One key issue in the battle: the federal pipeline regulatory agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), does not have regulations in place that can assure the safety of these extraordinarily dangerous pipelines. PHMSA itself acknowledges that CO2 pipelines are underregulated, and the agency currently lacks the technical knowledge required to inform minimum safety standards.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which Congress approved and President Joe Biden signed in August, is driving the rush to site these pipelines. That law unleashed a gold rush in 45Q tax credits for carbon capture and storage, and the thousands upon thousands of miles of CO2 pipelines, which would be required to transport the CO2 away from facilities where the CO2 is captured to the disposal or usage sites in distant states.

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Miller-Meeks touts ag tech, nuclear power at climate summit

U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks advocated for precision agriculture, biofuels, and expanding nuclear power in comments at the recent 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as COP27.

Miller-Meeks attended COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt as part of a delegation of six House Republicans who belong to the Conservative Climate Caucus. U.S. Representative John Curtis of Utah formed that caucus last year with support from fossil fuel industry and influential conservative advocacy groups. Miller-Meeks is the only Iowan among the 76 House Republicans currently listed as Conservative Climate Caucus members.

The Conservative Climate Foundation sponsored the House Republican delegation to COP27 and coordinated a panel discussion for the media. Little is known about that organization’s finances; its tax filings are not publicly available on the Internal Revenue Service’s website or ProPublica’s database of tax returns from 501(c)(3) nonprofits.

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