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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Iowa's looming water and drought crisis

Tyler Granger: Impaired waterways and the ongoing drought are a 1-2 punch that could create incredible hardships for Iowans in 2021. -promoted by Laura Belin

The coronavirus and the economic fallout from the pandemic has made 2020 one the hardest years for Iowans. Unfortunately, two environmental catastrophes are on the horizon for 2021.

Nearly 60 percent of Iowa’s bodies of water are impaired, according to a report the Iowa Department of Natural Resources released this week. The trend is concerning, since Iowa has lax laws on scientific measurements regarding water quality as well as an inadequate, all-voluntary strategy to reduce toxic nutrients in our lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

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Momentum builds for 100% DSM clean energy initiative

Raihan Rashidi, a clean energy field organizer for the Iowa Environmental Council, wrote this post, which first appeared on that organization’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

Reading incessant news about climate-related disasters across the country and here in Iowa has made me wonder if we are just going to sit idly and hope the world miraculously recovers while we maintain our current ways. Or if we are going to accept the science and quickly act to prevent prolonged power outages or severe crop damages the next time a storm or drought hits us. Despite the many challenges 2020 has thrown upon us, I am hopeful it will be the latter.

This is where the 100% DSM movement comes into play.

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Iowans deserve a plan from MidAmerican to phase out coal

Katie Rock is the campaign representative in Iowa for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, based in Des Moines. You can follow the effort on Twitter at @IABeyondCoal and @KatieRockIA. -promoted by Laura Belin

This year has pushed us all to reconsider what it means to be a safe, resilient and just community in the 21st century. And while many of us anxiously look to the future, we should remember the tremendous opportunity we have to take control of our path today. It is time for our city of Des Moines to accelerate the transition to clean energy by passing a resolution committing to buying 100 percent renewable power by 2030.

MidAmerican continues to own and operate one of the largest coal fleets in the country right here in Iowa, selling coal-generated power for the benefit of their shareholders, while Iowans pay the price of the pollution to our air and water. The company currently owns more generation than it needs to reliably keep the lights on. The time has come for MidAmerican to walk its talk and make a plan to retire its coal fleet, starting with its most uneconomic plants. 

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