Environmental scorecard for the Iowans in Congress

Sheri Albrecht is a member of Indivisible Cedar Rapids Metro and on the executive committees of the Sierra Club’s Iowa Chapter and Cedar-Wapsie Group.

EcoFest 2022 was held on April 23 at the NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids in celebration of Earth Day.

Our local Indivisible CR Metro group hosted a table. We had three goals: 1) Find out what issues were most important to the people who visited our table; 2) In keeping with the ecological theme of the event, provide data showing attendees how their legislative representatives voted on environmental issues; and 3) Encourage ordinary citizens to engage with their elected representatives.

Continue Reading...

Interview: John Norwood outlines his vision for Iowa agriculture

Polk County Soil and Water Commissioner John Norwood announced on February 7 that he will run for Iowa secretary of agriculture as a Democrat. In a news release enclosed at the end of this post, Norwood promised to “protect urban and rural consumers, expand economic opportunities around diversified food and agricultural production, and advocate for the needs of ALL food, grain, and livestock producers.”

He added that he wants to create a “a modern vision for Iowa for its highly productive but “unbalanced” agricultural system,” in order to provide “healthy soil, clean air, swimmable/fishable waters and safe drinking water for everyone.”

Norwood expanded on his vision in a recent telephone interview with Bleeding Heartland. (Disclosure: I have known the candidate since before this website existed and consider him a friend.)

Continue Reading...

Iowans don’t want carbon pipelines - here’s why

This post was co-authored by Emma Schmit, Food & Water Watch; Jess Mazour, Sierra Club Iowa Chapter; Caitlin Golle, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; Mahmud Fitil, Great Plains Action Society; and Angie Carter, Women, Food and Agriculture Network.

Virtually unknown two months ago, proposed hazardous liquid carbon pipelines are the latest environmental disaster to hit Iowa’s newspaper headlines. Threatening everything from peoples’ lives to their land and our climate, it’s no surprise these pipelines have garnered mass opposition from the get-go, uniting Iowans of all stripes.

On behalf of the 73,000 Iowans we represent, with members in every county, we oppose carbon capture pipelines. Carbon pipelines are a danger to Iowans and our land, a false climate solution, and a distraction from the real work of reforming our agricultural and energy sectors to combat the looming climate emergency. They are an affront to our shared vision for Iowa’s future — where communities work together to protect our water, land and climate for future generations and those who live downstream.

Continue Reading...

Drinking water, vaccines, and the tragedy of the commons

 Richard Lindgren is Emeritus Professor of Business at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, now retired in Gulf Coast Florida. He blogs at godplaysdice.com.

Before a planned international trip for a humanitarian non-governmental organization a few years ago, I received cholera and typhoid vaccinations as part of a set of several jabs administered by Iowa’s Polk County Health Department. Despite some transient ill effects, I survived to tell the tale, one more unsung miracle performed daily without fanfare by the protectors of our public health.

In 1854, Dr. John Snow physically mapped out London’s cholera epidemic of that year and demonstrated that cholera is a water-borne disease, that outbreak mostly tied to a single sewage-contaminated water well. It took a very bad year of sewage stench four years later before the city committed money to begin building the most impressive sewer system in the world for its day in order to protect the common water supply.

The contamination of London’s water supply was a classic example of “the tragedy of the commons.” And in Iowa it still is! Governor Kim Reynolds managed to gloat recently over a long-needed plan to spend $100 million to improve Iowa’s often stinky, fertilizer-and-hog-manure-contaminated public water supplies. The new money, she said in her official press release, comes from some mysterious “ARPA.” Unsaid is that this is the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,” enacted over the opposition of every Republican in Congress.

The larger “commons” in 2021 is not London’s drinking water, rather it is our own public health, of which our drinking water is but a part. Our public health, too, has begun to stink.

Continue Reading...

The people must vote on WDM Water Works regionalization

Julie Stauch became invested and motivated about water issues after the 1993 floods. In 2017, she joined others across the metro area to speak out against the regionalization bill in the Iowa legislature, focusing on West Des Moines. She stayed involved attending meetings of a regional group representing communities across the metro area.

On November 30, leaders of West Des Moines Water Works discussed a regionalization plan in public for the first time. You likely did not know this plan was on the agenda for the “joint workshop” of the West Des Moines City Council’s workshop with the WDM Water Works, which had been announced the previous Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving). The posted agenda included only a vague reference to “Discussion on Future Water Supply Needs for West Des Moines.”

I had intended to publish here the statement I delivered at the workshop. But the nature of the event changed my point of view. Folks, we have a big problem at the WDM Water Works Board of Trustees.

Continue Reading...

Traveling in the Right Direction

The late Paul W. Johnson wrote the following essay as an introduction to Chapter Five of “The Essential Aldo Leopold: Quotations and Commentaries,” C. Meine and R. Knight, eds., University of Wisconsin Press, 1999. It is reproduced here with permission of the UW Press and Curt Meine. Paul was a staunch advocate of land use policies which served people and conserved natural resources. During his career, he served as an Iowa state legislator from Decorah, chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The need to conserve soil and water seems obvious today. It was not always so. When Aldo Leopold began his conservation career with the US Forest Service, our nation was on a destructive rampage. Forests and croplands were thought to exist in limitless supply. Rangelands were considered useful only to the extent that they could support livestock grazing; range health was not an issue. Wetlands were considered wastelands. Surface waters were treated as sewers. Meandering streams were deemed too slow and inefficient, and wild rivers needed to be harnessed “for the good of mankind.”

Continue Reading...
View More...