Iowa Companies to Receive Over $10 million in Clean Energy Tax Credits

President Obama announced today that the Department of Energy will issue $2.3 billion in clean energy manufacturing tax credits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – the vast majority of which will be used to spur more energy efficient buildings, and wind and solar power. 183 projects in 43 states will receive tax credits to help create tens of thousands of high quality jobs and increase domestic manufacturing of advanced clean energy technologies. Among the leading recipients in Iowa is TPI Composites in Newton, which will get 3.9 million dollars to expand its production of wind turbine blades. (A list of all Iowa's recipients is available here.)
 
TPI's Newton plant, formerly a Maytag washing machine factory, is symbolic of clean energy’s potential to transform and revitalize Iowa’s manufacturing base and was the site of the President's 2009 Earth Day address. American Railcar Industries in Fort Dodge hopes to follow TPI’s lead and will receive 5.35 million dollars to transform a local rail car plant to produce 500 steel towers a year for large-scale commercial wind turbines.

Eric Nost, Environment Iowa state associate, released the following statement in response:

“Energy efficiency, wind, and solar power have the potential to revive the nation's economy, create millions of good jobs, and stop global warming. The President’s announcement today will help Iowa continue to lead the way toward a new, clean energy future.

“While the Administration’s actions and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are substantial first steps, Congress must follow the President’s lead and take immediate action. In order to create jobs and heal our ailing economy, right now the Senate needs to pass comprehensive clean energy and global warming legislation.

“We thank Senator Harkin for investing in Iowa through the ARRA and urge him to work now to pass strong legislation that further encourages these kinds of clean energy projects and the jobs they create, makes us more energy independent, and cuts pollution fast enough to stave off the worst effects of global warming.”

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Environment Iowa is a state-wide, citizen-funded advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open spaces.  

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Environment Iowa Applauds State's Congressional Champs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 12/30/09
Eric Nost, Environment Iowa | (515) 243-5835; cell (319) 621-0075 | enost@environmentiowa.org

Senator Tom Harkin (D) and Representative Leonard Boswell (D – 3rd District) voted for the environment 100 percent of the time in the past year and a half, according to the annual Congressional Scorecard released today by Environment Iowa.

Environment Iowa is releasing the scorecard as it continues its campaign to pass legislation in Congress to promote clean energy and cut global warming pollution.

“These scorecards are an important tool to educate Iowans about the voting records of our elected officials,” said Environment Iowa fellow Eric Nost. “They show that Senator Harkin and Congressmen Boswell have consistently decided to put the economy and the environment ahead of special interests. For instance, in the past year and a half, they voted to invest an unprecedented $80 billion in the kind of clean energy projects Iowa is uniquely poised to lead and benefit from.”

“Iowa is a national leader in the production and use of clean, home-grown sources of energy, and this industry continues to create jobs and grow our state's economy,” said Senator Harkin in a statement. “I am pleased to have supported legislation that reduces our dependence on foreign fuels, protects our environment and natural resources, and makes investments in the new energy economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress as we continue to address these important issues.”

Environment Iowa scored seven votes in the Senate ranging from an economic recovery bill with investments in public transit and energy efficiency to legislation saving the nation's coasts from offshore drilling.

In the House of Representatives, Environment Iowa scored 15 votes including funding to make schools more energy efficient and legislation protecting the Great Lakes.

Represntative Boswell and Senator Harkin were the only members of Congress from Iowa to receive a 100 percent score.

Representative Dave Loebsack (D), who represents Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, received a 93 percent. Represenative Bruce Braley (D), who represents Waterloo, Davenport, and Dubuque, earned an 80 percent. These numbers include a few absences from key votes that occurred during the floods of 2008.

With the help of these congressmen the 111th Congress has made significant progress in several key areas. In June the House passed a landmark bill to promote clean energy and limit global warming pollution.The Senate has yet to vote on its version of the legislation.

“We urge other members of Iowa's congressional delegation to work to strengthen our environmental laws—to curb global warming pollution, transition the country towards a cleaner energy future, and protect our most treasured waterways,” concluded Nost.

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Environment Iowa is citizen-based advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open spaces.

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New Report: Iowa's Power Sources Outdated, Under-regulated

For Immediate Release: November 24, 2009
Contact: Eric Nost, Environment Iowa | 515-243-5835; cell: 319-621-0075 | enost@environmentiowa.org

New Report: Iowa’s Power Sources Outdated, Under-regulated

Des Moines — Iowa is home to some of the nation's oldest and most polluting coal-fired power plants, according to a new analysis of government data released today by Environment Iowa.  Half a year after a proposal for a new coal plant in Marshalltown was canceled and over one year after a similar proposal for Waterloo was denied, a group of environmental groups are calling for tougher regulation on existing power plants. (Report available at http://www.environmentiowa.org)

“Building new coal plants in Marshalltown and Waterloo would have been disastrous. Now we need to make sure that we clean up those plants that we've already built,” said Environment Iowa state associate Eric Nost. “They are outdated and under-regulated. Old coal-fired clunkers ought to have to meet modern emissions standards.”

Nationally, the report shows that America's supply of electricity is dominated by old plants, and that the oldest and dirtiest facilities often go hand-in-hand. Power plants first built three decades ago or more produced 73 percent of the total global warming pollution from power plants in 2007. Older power plants on average emit more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than newer ones.

Though it supplies the majority of Iowa’s electricity, coal is the most polluting of all fuel sources.

The state's largest and most polluting coal plant – the Walter Scott Jr. Energy Center in Council Bluffs – released nearly ten million tons of carbon dioxide into atmosphere in 2007. Parts of the facility date back to 1954.

Coal-fired plants like the Walter Scott Jr. Energy Center currently do not have to meet any carbon dioxide pollution standard, meaning that they can function as an unchecked contributor to global warming. Such plants comprise the nation’s single largest source of global warming pollution.  

The growing impacts of global warming will pose serious threats to Iowa, particularly on the agricultural sector as rainfall declines and warmer temperatures evaporate moisture in the soil more quickly, leading to lower yields.  To avoid the worst effects of global warming, science shows that the U.S. must cut its global warming pollution by 35 percent by 2020.

“Although numerous studies have shown that Iowa’s important agricultural sector has a great deal to lose if nothing is done to stop climate change, groups opposed to taking steps to curb global warming emissions have used a strategy of focusing on energy cost increases for farmers, businesses, and residential consumers, and emphasizing potential job losses in energy-intensive industries,” said Neila Seaman, director of the Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club. “It is imperative that Iowa’s U.S. Senators use their power to ensure a strong Clean Air Act and pave the way for the regulation of carbon dioxide.”

The Senate is slated to consider legislation in the next few months to establish the first-ever federal limits on global warming pollution and bolster incentives for clean energy sources like wind power.In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule to require coal plants and other large industries to use available technology to cut their global warming pollution when new facilities are constructed or existing facilities are significantly modified. 

“We urge Senators Harkin and Grassley to ensure that the Senate passes an energy bill that requires coal plants to meet modern standards for global warming pollution, making room for more clean energy projects, like wind and solar power. We need more jobs building wind farms, installing solar panels and weatherizing homes, not more pollution,” concluded Nost.
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Environment Iowa is a citizen-funded advocacy organization working to protect the state's clean air, clean water, and open spaces.

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Is Harkin a Hypocrite, Believer in Double Standards or Playing Iowans for Fools?

A wag once said “Hypocrisy is the lubricant of society.” He could have been talking about Tom Harkin.

With apparently no willingness to read the record, and from 1000 miles away in Washington, Tom Harkin jumped in with both feet into the federal lawsuit of Jack Gross of Des Moines. Mr. Gross sued local insurance company FBL and then lost his age discrimination claim at the U.S. Supreme Court. (Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., No. 08-441 (U.S. S. Ct. June 18, 2009) Harkin has now introduced federal legislation taking Gross’s side on the matter. Harkin claims FBL “gave (a) job to a much younger, less qualified person.”  

Who knows, Harkin’s opinion might even be valid in the Jack Gross matter  but it is terribly inconsistent with his own record when  it comes to his own “hiring” practices. Tom Harkin only a week ago issued a press release singing the praises of his two “extremely well qualified” young  United States Attorney nominees. (harkin.senate.gov/pr/p.cfm?i=318359)

Harkin picked a 34 year old and a 37 year old to serve as Iowa’s United States Attorneys. (I checked across the USA, in 2009 while Iowa has two nominees in their 30s, only one other state has a United States Attorney nominee who is in their 30s.  South Dakota has the 35 year old son of their Democratic Senator nominated who was reportedly the only person who submitted an application. Nepotism?)

It is no secret in Iowa’s legal and political community that Harkin picked the far  less experienced,   much less qualified candidates to be United States Attorneys.  Clearly, Harkin passed over several much more senior, highly respected and experienced attorneys all who expressed a willingness and desire to serve their country. In fact, Harkin mentioned one of those attorneys in his press release. He passed over the highly respected veteran federal prosecutor, Judi Whetstine for one spot. Ms Whetstine even apparently trained the much younger 37 years old Harkin picked. Harkin also passed over attorneys with over three to four times the experience of the  novice 34 year old that he selected. (This nominee resume shows that he  has only practiced law in Iowa for three years.)  Why did Harkin pass over more qualified and experienced attorneys in their 40s, 50s and 60s to select junior attorneys in their 30s?  Was it because they were the best qualified, better attorneys, better equipped to get the job done with honor? Hogwash-Harkin wanted the younger attorneys to be  Iowa United States Attorneys for many of the same  wrongheaded reasons he condemned in the Jack Gross case.   Now he wants to legislate against this practice in the private sector. Apparently he believes “younger” is an honorable criterion for his own political appointees who will be trusted to uphold federal law but such criteria should be illegal in the private sector.   How can Harkin justify his double standard? Why has he deprived Iowans of the service of better qualified attorneys for his “young pups?”   I hope Tom Harkin remembers that “He who stops being better stops being good.”

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Record-breaking transit ridership saved Iowans nearly 9,000,000 gallons of gas last year

For Immediate Release – September 23, 2009

Contact: Eric Nost, Environment Iowa, Office: 515-243-5835 Cell: 319-621-0075, enost@environmentiowa.org

Record-breaking transit ridership saved Iowans nearly 9,000,000 gallons of gas last year

Des Moines, IA In 2008, people in Iowa saved nearly nine million gallons of gasoline by riding transit in record numbers – the amount consumed by 15,300 cars. In addition to fuel savings, public transportation reduced global warming pollution here by 80,000 tons. Transportation accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation's dependence on oil, and about one-third of our carbon dioxide pollution Environment Iowa outlined in their new report Getting On Track: Record Transit Ridership Increases Energy Independence.

“People are voting with their feet by driving less and taking more public transportation,” said Eric Nost , state associate with the statewide citizen advocacy organization. “Congress should listen to these voters and invest more in public transportation, which will increase our energy independence and reduce global warming pollution,” Nost added.

Micki Sandquist, executive director of the American Lung Association in Iowa noted, “we support public policies that encourage appropriate mass transit and alternative transportation options. Conservation is always the first and most obtainable goal in any effort to reduce petroleum consumption and the air pollution it causes, and using mass transit is an easy and effective way for anyone to reduce their consumption of petroleum fuels.”

Iowans drove less, with 2.07 million fewer miles driven in 2008 than in the year before – an eight percent drop that was the largest percent decrease in the country. People drove less due in part to volatile fuel prices and decreased economic activity, and many of these car trips were replaced by transit. In fact, ridership increased by five percent above 2007 levels.

“But in spite of the huge potential for transit to reduce oil consumption and pollution, the vast majority of transportation funding is spent on roads,” said Nost. “Instead of spending money to build new highways that only increase our dependence on oil, our leaders here in Iowa and in Congress should drive more money to transit and high-speed rail,” Nost argued.

Andrew Snow, campaign director at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, agreed. “This report demonstrates very clearly that demand for better public transit continues to grow very quickly. While our highways and interstate system are congested with traffic, rail and other transit systems will allow Iowans an efficient option to increase mobility and increase productivity for our people and businesses. I have no doubt that the unprecedented demand for travel within and without the state can and should be met with improved rail and multi-modal transportation options for our citizens. Our economy can't continue to compete without better transportation, and Iowans must be connected to the Midwest transportation network.”

In order to maximize the potential of public transportation to save energy and reduce pollution, Environment Iowa is asking local, state, and federal leaders to:

  •       Issue overarching goals for reducing oil dependence and pollution through transportation, which will guide better policy.
  •       Increase investment in cleaner public transportation, to include transit, high speed rail, and better walking and biking options.
  •       Level the playing field in terms of funding and approving transit projects, relative to road projects. Approval of transit and highway investments should be governed by an equivalent set of rules and matching ratios.
  •       Increase funding for transit maintenance and day-to-day operations, in addition to improving and expanding capacity. Federal, state and local funds should allow for greater flexibility in funding operations – new buses and trains are useless without drivers to drive them and mechanics to maintain them.

In the near term, Environment Iowa is calling on Congress to incorporate the full provisions of CLEAN TEA (the Clean, Low Emissions, Affordable New Transportation Equity Act, S. 575 ), into the climate bill being debated now in the Senate. CLEAN TEA would direct 10 percent of climate bill allowances to clean transportation efforts that will save oil and reduce emissions.

“We hope Senators Grassley and Harkin will support this forward-thinking legislation to lessen dependence on oil and cut pollution,” Nost concluded.

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Environment Iowa is a state-based, citizen-funded organization working for clean air, clean water, and open space.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization.

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IOWA "U.S. Attorney Candidate Rises Above Father's Past"

Doesn’t the potential United States Attorney appointment of Nick Klinefeldt create many situations that raise not only ethical challenges and issues but the appearance of ethical issues not to mention a great deal of unnecessary work to overcome those challenges?  Is this the best candidate Iowa and Senator Harkin really have for this important job? His own firm won’t make him a partner but he gets nominated to lead a powerful group of high octane veteran prosecutors?

A young inexperienced attorney –whose resume appears to be mighty puny to begin with–is going to take over the same USA office that prosecuted his own father for a drug crime?

His father was brought down by a multi-agency Iowa drug task force the USA Office he will not lead works with on a daily basis?

His father was represented by the Federal Public Defender who routinely is assigned cases prosecuted by that same USA office?  

His father was sentenced by a US Federal Judge in the same  Federal District that the USA office works before?

Won’t these and many other situations cause his decisions and relationships to be questioned at every turn? Won’t he have to rescue himself in many important situations?

This young man appears to have overcome some great parental challenges to become an attorney. Good for him.  But why does he have to be a USA at this point?  Why put him in this untenable situation? Why put everyone else who works in important job in the USA office and law enforcement who bring in the bad guys  not to mention  the public in this  “awkward”  situation?  The guy is only 35 and appears to have not much experience beyond being a friend of the Senator.  If he is that great of talent –why not at least put him in a different District maybe Northern Iowa?

Why did this story get reported in a National on-Line Blog and not by   any Iowa media? Isn’t there a controversy about Harkin’s other US Attorney nominee also-I thought I saw a Harkin OP-ED about that?

What is Senator Harkin doing? With so many national issues for him to deal with is his head really in the game on these important kinds of Iowa appointments?

Looking over the Main Justice Blog -it appears most Senators nominated at least three names to the White House for these appointments. Why did Harkin only submit one name? What did Grassley do in 2001?

BB

Found: Mon Sep 14 21:19:23 2009 PDT

Webpage: http://www.mainjustice.com/200…

Newshawk: http://drugpolicycentral.com/bot/

A U.S. Attorney Candidate Rises Above Father’s Past – Main Justice A U.S. Attorney Candidate Rises Above Father’s Past – Main Justice

Main Justice

A U.S. Attorney Candidate Rises Above Father’s Past

The Midwest has been hit hard by meth. Law enforcement devotes significant resources to combatting the illegal drug. All of which puts Des Moines lawyer Nick Klinefeldt, who is Sen. Tom Harkin’s choice for Iowa Southern District U.S. Attorney, in an unusual position.

Klinefeldt’s father, Michael Arthur Klinefeldt, is serving a 10-year sentence on a methamphetamine conviction, according to court records. Nick Klinefeldt declined to comment. A spokesman for Harkin said the candidate’s father’s conviction isn’t an issue. “It is Nick, not his father, who is up for consideration,” Bergen Kenny wrote in an e-mail. “Senator Harkin believes that Nick will fully and fairly enforce the law and should be considered for U.S. Attorney based on his credentials.”

The elder Klinefeldt is slated to be released from federal prison in 2012.

Klinefeldt is a former aide to Harkin. He also served as general counsel for the Iowa Democratic party until earlier this year and as a lawyer for the Obama for President campaign in Iowa, according to the Iowa Independent, which reported in March that Harkin had recommended him for the U.S. Attorney post.

Nick Klinefeldt (Ahlers & Cooney)

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa regularly oversees prosecutions of methamphetamine manufacturers and users. The office announced 14 successful meth-related prosecutions this year, including four convictions last month.

The elder Klinefeldt was nabbed in a 2002 incident, according to court documents. On an October evening seven years ago, Michael Arthur Klinefeldt and another man, identified as William Jon DeMoss Jr., were riding in a minivan that contained a meth lab. (Read the criminal complaint here and other court documents here.) Acting on a tip, a deputy in the Polk County Sherriff’s Office stopped the van.

The police officer reported the van smelled of ether and ammonia — substances used to manufacture meth. A analysis showed the lab produced more than 5 grams of meth and had the materials necessary to make more of the drug.

A camouflage fanny pack with a loaded .22 caliber revolver in it was also discovered in the vehicle. Klinefeldt told the police officer that DeMoss wore the fanny pack when they were making the meth in a Des Moines forest, records show.

A federal judge sentenced Klinefeldt to prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. This was his second meth-related conviction. Klinefeldt was also convicted in 1993 for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

Tom Harkin (Gov)

Harkin recommended Nick Klinefeldt to replace the current U.S. Attorney, Matthew G. Whitaker, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004.

Klinefeldt, 35, works in the general litigation department of Des Moines law firm Ahlers & Cooney. He is not a partner at his firm. He previously practiced complex civil and criminal litigation in Boston.

The U.S. Attorney candidate clerked for U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa Judge Robert W. Pratt from 2000 to 2002 and Massachusetts Appeals Court Chief Justice Christopher J. Armstrong and Justice Benjamin Kaplan from 2002 to 2003.

He also has strong ties to Harkin, having worked for the senator’s 1996 reelection campaign and on his Senate staff before attending law school at the University of Iowa, according to the Radio Iowa blog. In 2008, he donated $500 to Harkin’s campaign and $500 to the Obama presidential campaign, records show. He also gave $1000 to the Iowa Democratic Party between 2007 and 2008.

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