# Land Use



Iowa environmentalists react to Inflation Reduction Act

Meaningful Congressional action on climate change seemed doomed in the 50-50 U.S. Senate after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia tanked President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better proposal earlier this year. But on August 7, Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking 51st vote to approve the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. All Republicans, including Iowa’s Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, voted against final passage.

Assuming the U.S. House approves the bill (a vote is scheduled for August 12), Biden is poised to sign into law “the single biggest climate investment in U.S. history, by far.” In addition to significant changes to the tax system and health care policy, the massive package includes $369 billion in spending aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting clean energy.

According to summaries of the bill’s energy and climate provisions, enclosed in full below, the bill could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. However, the bill’s incentives for the fossil fuels industry—which were necessary to get Manchin on board—are troubling for many environmental advocates.

Bleeding Heartland sought comment from some Iowans who have been engaged in policy battles related to climate change and the environment.

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Iowa Supreme Court's unfair message: "Take one for the team"

Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com.

In 1972, Gordon Garrison purchased 300 acres of farmland in Emmet County, a rectangle near the Minnesota border one county to the east of the Iowa Great Lakes. 

The Iowa State University agricultural engineering graduate began raising sheep and crops. He also set about working to restore the “prairie pothole” ecology of shallow wetlands that was common in northwestern Iowa when white settlers began arriving 175 years ago. 

Garrison built a house on his land in 1999. He still lives there, although his quality of life has taken a troubling turn since he put down roots there.  

Life for Garrison and his neighbors changed significantly in December 2015 when New Fashion Pork LLP built a CAFO, or a confined animal feeding operation, uphill from and adjacent to Garrison’s property. The confinement building — which the state allows to house 4,400 to 8,800 hogs, depending on their size — is about a half mile from Garrison’s property. 

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Book review: The Land Remains

Larry Stone reviews Neil Hamilton’s new book The Land Remains: A Midwestern Perspective on our Past and Future.

Many of us baby boomer farm kids recall growing up in the 1950s and 60s walkin’ beans, baling hay, quail in the fencerows, and “the back 40.” But you don’t need a time machine to recapture that era, or to ponder the future of Iowa agriculture. Just read The Land Remains, by Neil D. Hamilton.

Raised on an Adams County farm, Hamilton earned forestry and law degrees before becoming director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University in Des Moines. He recently retired after 36 years. His memoir traces his growing awareness of how our agricultural policies have shaped not only the land but also the very fabric of our society.

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Iowa Democrats won't speak truth to ethanol power

The biofuels industry got a big win in the Iowa legislature this week, as the state House and Senate approved a bill requiring most gas stations in the state to dispense a higher ethanol blend known as E15 from at least half of their pumps.

All but a handful of Democratic legislators voted for the bill, and no Democrat spoke against the proposal during Senate or House floor debate.

It was the latest example of how Iowa Democratic politicians have embraced biofuels industry talking points and avoided challenging any policies seen as supporting ethanol.

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Bruce Rastetter seeks to parlay campaign cash into carbon pipelines

Emma Schmit is senior Iowa organizer with Food & Water Action.

The Republican Party of Iowa is the party of Bruce Rastetter. For years, he has amassed an enormous fortune at the public’s expense both here and abroad. And for years, he has invested in Iowa GOP candidates, in order to advance his own interests. After Governor Terry Branstad appointed him to the Iowa Board of Regents, he used that position to promote a business venture that could have displaced more than 162,000 refugee farmers in Tanzania, and to lean on a professor who discussed the ethanol industry’s impact on groundwater sources.

Rastetter knows how to call in favors. And he’s not done yet.

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Bobby Kaufmann telling new story about obscene gesture

State Representative Bobby Kaufmann gained extensive media coverage in January for raising his middle fingers at the end of a speech to a conservative audience at the Iowa capitol. At the time, Kaufmann told reporters he was trying to convey widespread frustration with federal government policies and national problems.

But the Republican lawmaker told a different story at a recent meeting with constituents. Now he is claiming his “double-finger” was directed at specific individuals who have supposedly threatened his family.

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