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On Capitol Hill

At the U Iowa Homecoming Parade Marshaling Area

Originally posted April 8, 2008. My only meeting with Congressman Dave Loebsack in his office on Capitol Hill.

This morning, I walked to DuPont Circle and took the Metro to the Capitol. The Metro ticket cost $1.65 so that was quite a bargain. I emerged from the station near the Longworth House Office Building where Congressman Loebsack’s office is on the fifth floor. I got in an hour early, so with the help of some construction workers, I located a coffee shop and waited for my appointment. As I walked back to the Longworth Building, there was a haze covering the top of the capitol dome. Tulips were in bloom. I cleared security and located the office.

I was able to meet with the congressman one-on-one. I had a few minutes to talk about politics with him before his chief of staff and legislative assistant joined us. He offered me a seat in his professor emeritus chair from Cornell College. It was cool!

We talked about a number of issues, and I joked that I had a very long list of talking points. He made me feel like we had all the time in the world, and that was also cool.

We talked about the transportation industry, and specifically about the energy policy, or lack thereof as it pertains to class eight vehicles. I explained that using food for fuel was not a sustainable answer to our oil dependence or to high diesel prices. I explained that biodiesel was not a solution for the trucking industry. He asked me if biodiesel was equivalent to food for fuel, and I showed some restraint and said I would get him an answer.

We talked about the California law that regulated particulate emissions in port areas. I asked him to support keeping the federal government out of this dispute between the state and port operators and truckers. I presented information about the health impacts of fine particulate matter from engine emissions on residents living near the ports. He could support the federal government keeping out of this situation. This led to a longer discussion about cutting the rain forests down to plant palm oil and jatropha plantations for biofuels and the related effect of removing capacity to absorb CO2 by doing this. I also gave them suggested reading of Carbon Free and Nuclear Free by Arjun Makhijani.

We discussed the US-India nuclear trade deal that is currently being debated in India. I explained that if this initiative was allowed to go forward, the rest of the world would view this as a form of nuclear proliferation and would set a poor example. He agreed.

We discussed the need to have a surge in diplomacy with Iran by holding talks without preconditions. I believe that if we focus our efforts on discussing preconditions, that no discussions would take place. Whereas if we had discussion and reached impasse, then we would gain respect in the world for having tried.

I asked him to cut all funding for reliable replacement warheads from the federal budget as was done last year. He said he would.

We discussed a number of other issues ranging from food deserts to public health to trucking to politics. It was a great start to the day and a memorable one.