Open letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan

Mike Tramontina is a lifelong Iowan who enjoys paddling and fishing in Iowa’s rivers and streams even though they are “unfishable” and “unswimmable.” -promoted by Laura Belin

May 5, 2021

Dear Administrator Regan:

It was very disappointing to read the Des Moines Register news article about your visit to Des Moines. While it is good that you joined the announcement of the demolition and redevelopment of the Dico site, you then went to meet with agricultural leaders to learn about the ethanol industry and livestock production. The disappointment was not making time to even take a question about Iowa’s filthy water and disgusting air.

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Earth Day 2021: Iowa needs more nature imagination

Neil Hamilton shares remarks he delivered on “Iowa needs more nature imagination: Lessons from our missed opportunities at the Des Moines Area Community College Earth Day event on April 22. -promoted by Laura Belin

It is a pleasure to be with you as we celebrate Earth Day 51. Unfortunately, festivities for Earth Day 50 came and went with hardly a whisper, a casualty of our unfolding COVID pandemic. But even as our attention was drawn to the challenges we faced – the power of nature and being outdoors continued working on our lives. There are many lessons we will take from this shared experience but among the most significant is how it reaffirmed the valuable role nature plays in keeping us healthy and sane.

That is why it is fitting on Earth Day 51 as we emerge from our cocoons – we use this opportunity to think critically about our future with Iowa’s land and water. To do so it is important to consider some history – especially some of our most significant lost opportunities – and identify any lessons for the years ahead. The good news is we have a legion of conservation champions working to protect nature in Iowa and the ranks are growing.

The bad news we are still in the minority and face stiff headwinds.

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Joni Ernst voted against more than half of Biden's cabinet

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has voted against confirming twelve of President Joe Biden’s cabinet appointees, a majority of the 23 cabinet officials who are subject to Senate confirmation. Senators have confirmed 21 cabinet members; Eric Lander is awaiting a vote as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the president has yet to announce a replacement for Neera Tanden, who withdrew her nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

Only ten of the 50 Republican senators have voted against more of Biden’s appointees than Ernst: Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Tom Cotton, Tommy Tuberville, Bill Hagerty, Rand Paul, Richard Shelby, Marsha Blackburn, and Tim Scott.

Iowa’s senior Senator Chuck Grassley has voted against five of the 21 cabinet members confirmed so far.

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Joni Ernst opposing more Biden nominees than Chuck Grassley

During their six years serving together in Congress, Iowa’s two Republican U.S. senators have rarely differed on matters that came to the Senate floor. But seven weeks into Joe Biden’s presidency, a pattern is emerging: Senator Joni Ernst is more inclined to reject the new president’s nominees than is her senior colleague Chuck Grassley.

In most cases, Ernst has not released any statement explaining her confirmation votes. Her staff have not responded to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries about why she opposed specific nominees or her general approach to evaluating prospective cabinet members.

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Three notable Iowa events that happened on July 4

Independence Day was established to celebrate the July 4, 1776 vote by the Second Continental Congress to adopt Declaration of Independence. But many other noteworthy historical events also happened on this day. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826. New York state abolished slavery on this day in 1827.

July 4 has also been a significant date in Iowa history. Two of the events described below happened within the lifetimes of many Bleeding Heartland readers.

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Iowa lawmakers had their chance. Now governor should issue voting rights order

“Let them vote! Let them vote!” Black Lives Matter protesters chanted a few minutes after Governor Kim Reynolds signed a police reform bill on June 12. Reynolds did not acknowledge hearing them, continuing to pass out pens to advocates of the legislation, which the Iowa House and Senate had unanimously approved the night before.

The protesters want the governor to sign an executive order automatically restoring voting rights to Iowans who have completed felony sentences. Iowa has the country’s strictest felon voting ban, which disproportionately disenfranchises African Americans. Reynolds has resisted calls to issue an executive order, saying she wants the legislature to approve a state constitutional amendment on felon voting instead.

The Iowa legislature adjourned for the year on June 14 without the constitutional amendment clearing the Senate.

For many thousands of Iowans with felony convictions, an order from Reynolds provides the only path to voting before 2024. She should issue one as soon as possible.

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