Events coming up during the next two weeks

Last month was so busy that I didn’t manage to post any event calendars here, but I am back on duty now. The highlight of this month for Democrats is the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Saturday, November 21, featuring Vice President Joe Biden. You can buy tickets online.

Please note that November 10 is the deadline for public comments to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources about protecting our Outstanding Iowa Waters. The Farm Bureau is mobilizing public comments against these regulations. The DNR needs to hear from Iowans committed to preserving our highest-quality waterways. Click here for background and an easy to use comment form.

State Senator Staci Appel will officially announce her re-election campaign on November 12, and I’ve posted details about a fundraiser for her campaign below the fold. Appel’s Republican opponent, State Representative Kent Sorenson, is already gearing up for next year’s election. He spent the weekend in Texas attending the WallBuilders ProFamily Legislators Conference. Here’s some background on David Barton’s vision for America, chock full of Biblical interpretations supporting right-wing public policies. Barton spoke to the Iowa Christian Alliance not long ago (click that link to watch videos). Former presidential candidate Ron Paul is headlining a fundraiser for Sorenson on November 14, by the way.

Many more event details are after the jump. As always, please post a comment about anything I’ve left out, or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com).

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ACTION: Help protect outstanding Iowa waters

Political journalists tend to write about laws and executive orders, but some of the most important policy decisions take place during the rulemaking process within executive branch agencies.

Last month I wrote about rulemaking at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that will affect the highest-quality waters in Iowa. These rules will determine which lakes and streams receive the “Outstanding Iowa Waters” designation, as well as the level of protection those waterways receive from future polluters.

The Iowa Environmental Council’s monthly newsletter arrived today, and it contained the following action alert:

Currently underway at the Iowa DNR is a rule-making package that includes protections for Iowa’s very best, few remaining high quality waters. From now through November 10, 2009, they are accepting public comments/letters, which will help them decide whether to designate 6 Iowa lakes and 32 streams as Outstanding Iowa Waters. This designation will provide protections which keep the water quality in these water bodies from becoming degraded. In addition, the Iowa Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee also needs to hear from Iowans about these designations.

Follow this link to learn more about Outstanding Iowa Waters.

Follow this link to learn more about Antidegradation Rules and Outstanding Iowa Waters

Three Ways you can help protect Iowa’s Outstanding Iowa Waters…

1) Follow this link to send a comment letter to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and your State Senator and Representative. LINK to ACTION ALERT and SAMPLE LETTER. This letter must be sent no later than November 10, 2009.

2) Attend and speak out at a public meeting in Des Moines on November 10, in the Wallace Building Auditorium, at 1:00 p.m. Public meetings, let the DNR hear directly from local citizens about the value they place on clean water.  At these meetings the public can provide oral testimony on the record demonstrating their support for the designation and protection of the nominated waters.  TALKING POINTS

3) Attend a meeting of the Iowa Legislative Administrative Rules Committee, also on November 10, at the Capitol, at 9:00 a.m., in room 24 (behind the Senate Chambers) and present your comments to the Committee. TALKING POINTS

If you have questions or need help with your comments, contact Shannan Garretson at the Iowa Environmental Council at 515-244-1194 ext 211, email skgarretson@iaenvironment.org or contact Susan Heathcote at extension 205, email heathcote@iaenvironment.org.

If the talking points links don’t work from here, you can find them on this page of the IEC’s website.

Remember, the public comment period ends on November 10. Please take a few minutes to make your voice heard, and pass this link along to friends who like paddling, fishing or are just passionate about Iowa lakes and streams.

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ACTION: Contact the DNR to protect water quality

I received this alert from the Sierra Club’s Iowa Chapter:

Two years after a coalition, including the Iowa Chapter, petitioned the Environmental Protection Commission for rulemaking to strengthen Iowa’s antidegradation rule, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is recommending “softer” language for protecting some of Iowa’s waters.  Once again, the DNR is succumbing to pressure from polluters to a less protective status for Iowa’s water.

Make your voice heard to DNR that “softening” the language in the antidegradation rule is not acceptable.

At issue is Tier 2.5 protection for Outstanding Iowa Waters.  The DNR agreed early in discussions that Iowa’s high-quality waters, outstanding state resources with exceptional recreational or ecological significance, needed this enhanced level of protection.  Recently, the DNR changed the Outstanding Iowa Waters originally listed.  Now only two of the waters listed in the new NOIA receive a pollution discharge.  See a map of the proposed Outstanding Iowa Waters here. (pdf)

The DNR also proposes language that will make it more difficult to nominate future waters as Outstanding Iowa Waters.  Although any individual or organization can nominate a surface water, the burden of proving that water is worthy falls on whoever is making the nomination.  Draft language indicates that the water will by default receive less protection unless it is proven to deserve otherwise.

The Sierra Club, Iowa Chapter believes that the default should be maximum protection and the burden of proof should fall on the polluter.

Tell the DNR that you want Iowa’s high-quality waters to receive maximum protection and that all proposed streams and lakes should be designated Outstanding Iowa Waters.

Your comments about the proposed Outstanding Iowa Waters are important.  Let the DNR know your experiences and why they should receive maximum protection.

Thanks for all that you do.

Neila Seaman

Sierra Club Iowa Chapter

Click here to see the list of creeks and lakes that the DNR designated as “Outstanding Iowa Waters” earlier this year. This Google document is the memo revising the list, removing all lakes and most of the creeks.

The Sierra Club makes it easy for you to e-mail the right people at the DNR with your comment on this issue. It’s always better to personalize your message if you can, so you might want to look at this document to see whether any lakes or creeks you have enjoyed have been removed from the Outstanding Iowa Waters list. The Iowa Environmental Council provides much more background here on antidegradation rules and Outstanding Iowa Waters.

If you prefer to contact the DNR without going through the Sierra Club site, the Iowa Environmental Council has contact information for the right person here. Public comments must be received by September 15.

Water quality is a huge problem in Iowa already, so we need strong rules protecting our best waters from increased pollution. Please make your voice heard with the DNR.

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