Gas companies want to profit off Iowans

Michael Schmidt, staff attorney for the Iowa Environmental Council, wrote this post, which first appeared on that organization’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

This legislative session has kept the Iowa Environmental Council busy, in part because of a bill that would protect gas company profits at the expense of Iowa customers. House File 555 and its companion, Senate File 455, would hurt Iowans by stopping cities and counties from protecting their local residents from dangerous gas infrastructure, high energy bills, and polluting fossil fuels.

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Five under-reported climate change stories

Tyler Granger is a climate change activist in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

Between the presidential election, the special U.S. Senate elections in Georgia, the Capitol insurrection, the second impeachment of President Donald Trump, and Joe Biden’s inauguration, political happenings have overshadowed many other newsworthy events. Several climate change stories received little media attention but are worth noting.

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Don't give up on rural Iowa

Emma Schmit chairs the Calhoun County Democrats and serves on the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee. She is also the Iowa organizer at Food & Water Watch. -promoted by Laura Belin

The November election has inspired a new wave of rural analysis. Spend five minutes looking and you’ll find five different opinions. Some claim Donald Trump’s sweep of Midwestern states indicates that Democrats should write off rural voters. Some believe the lower margin of rural Trump victories in 2020 compared to 2016 shows a slight, but not insignificant, shift in political trends that must be capitalized on.

Whatever your opinion, it’s clear that the debate over rural voters will influence strategies, campaigns and policies over the coming years — and this is something both urban and rural residents should pay attention to.

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Most Iowans in Congress supported latest COVID-19 package

The U.S. House and Senate on December 21 approved a $2.3 trillion package to fund the federal government through September 30, 2021 and provide approximately $900 billion in economic stimulus or relief connected to the coronavirus pandemic.

No one in either chamber had time to read the legislation, which was nearly 5,600 pages long, before voting on it. Statements released by Iowans in Congress, which I’ve enclosed below, highlight many of its key provisions. The unemployment and direct payments to families are clearly insufficient to meet the needs of millions of struggling Americans. Senate Republicans blocked aid to state and local governments, many of which are facing budget shortfalls. President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to push for a much larger economic stimulus package early next year.

The legislation headed to President Donald Trump’s desk includes some long overdue changes, such as new limits on “surprise billing” by health care providers for emergency care and some out-of-network care.

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Iowa takes big tumble in national energy efficiency rankings

Democratic legislators, environmental organizations, and consumer advocates warned in 2018 that a bill backed by Iowa’s major utilities would destroy our state’s decades-long tradition of being a “national leader in energy efficiency.” But Republican members of the Iowa House and Senate didn’t listen, and Governor Kim Reynolds ignored calls to veto Senate File 2311.

That law is the main reason Iowa dropped sharply in a new review of state policies on energy efficiency.

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