Categories
Environment

Don’t Pass the Climate Buck to the Next Generation

Finn Harries and All Gore at the Climate Reality Project leadership training in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 7, 2015. Photo Credit: Finn Harries Twitter account.

In 2015, Finn Harries sat at our table during former vice president Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth presentation in Cedar Rapids. I didn’t know his history as a YouTuber with his identical twin brother Jack. I was assigned as his mentor during the training yet Finn didn’t need a mentor to work on the climate crisis.

Friday, Nov. 26, Finn Harries made this statement on Instagram after attending COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland:

One of the responses I often hear from older people when I talk about the work I do is “your generation gives me hope”… but this is the wrong way to think about how we go about tackling the climate crisis. In effect, this is the same strategy that has got us so deep into this mess… just passing the problem down to the next generation. What’s different this time is that we don’t have enough time to wait for our generation to be in institutional seats of power… we don’t have any time at all. So we’re flipping it around. We’re passing the problem back, up to those who can actually instigate change. Our role as young activists is to hold people in positions of power to account. To make sure they do what they’ve said they will do. In this way, we all have a critical role to play.

Finn Harries Instagram Account Nov. 26, 2021.

Harries is right. It will take all of us to make a difference during the climate crisis. In the U.S. we are not doing enough to hold people in positions of power to account.

According to a recent Washington Post – ABC News poll, “A clear majority of adults say that warming is a serious problem, but the share — 67 percent — is about the same as it was seven years ago, when alarms raised by climate scientists were less pronounced than they are now.” What will move the public opinion needle and lead to effective climate action?

In Iowa, the effects of climate change are clear. I outlined some of them in a letter to my federal elected officials. What are the two Carbon Capture and Sequestration pipelines to transport liquefied CO2 from Iowa to North Dakota and Illinois but a response to the need to reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere? Our political leaders don’t even acknowledge the climate crisis while supporting CO2 removal from the atmosphere.

We do have a critical role to play to prevent the worst effects of global warming. Implementing a solution will require us all.

Here is the YouTube video Finn’s brother Jack Harries made for the Conference of the Parties 26 in Glasgow, Scotland. It features an interview with former president Barack Obama. Young people like the Harries twins are not buying much malarkey. We, as a society, need to act.

Categories
Environment

Here Comes Carbon Capture Technology

Contains 10 Percent Ethanol

Let’s be clear about Carbon Capture and Sequestration: it is an unproven technology to enable fossil fuel use when society should be turning away and leaving fossil fuels in the ground. Among the problems with the technology is our government supports it to the tune of $8.5 billion in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recently signed into law by President Joe Biden. There is more money for CCS in the Build Back Better Act as currently written. Why would our government do that?

The answer is a familiar one. Oil, gas and coal interests have too much invested to let go of their extraction and distribution operations. During negotiations between the White House and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, support for CCS was included in both bills. Manchin’s vote was needed to pass the legislation.

In addition to funding CCS technology, the Biden administration appointed a prominent supporter of it, Brad Crabtree, a coal ally and longtime carbon capture advocate, to serve as the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. While negotiations over the infrastructure bills were private, Manchin is said to have had a hand in Crabtree’s nomination. Oil, gas and coal advocates let loose a loud cheer of approval upon the announcement.

The question is whether substantial government investment in CCS via the infrastructure bills was a poison pill for environmentalists. Only a few people are asking that question here in Iowa, and fewer still knew what was in the bills. Inclusion of CCS was apparently not too toxic for environmental hawks in the U.S. Congress as it was accepted as part of the sausage-making process of creating legislation.

The partisan lines are clearly drawn. The Republican view of climate action is “with innovative technologies, fossil fuels can and should be a major part of the global solution.” Most Democrats “support increased domestic renewable energy development, including wind and solar power farms, in an effort to reduce carbon pollution. The party’s platform calls for an ‘all of the above’ energy policy including clean energy, natural gas, and domestic oil, while wanting to become energy independent.” It’s no wonder CCS made it into the first infrastructure law, and will into the second if it is passed by the Congress.

The Iowa governor’s task force on carbon sequestration quickly led to Iowa going all-in on the technology, with two proposed Iowa projects. The Iowa Sierra Club opposes them.

We want real climate solutions – not greenwashing schemes!

Iowa has two new pipeline proposals. Both are centered around Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The lines would carry captured carbon from ethanol plants. CCS is very complicated but when you boil it down, the basic premise is that it captures the carbon and stores it underground (CCS) or it captures the carbon and uses it for industrial purposes. Both Summit and Navigator pipelines claim that they are going to permanently store the CO2 underground, but we have strong evidence that Summit will use the CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). EOR is the process of pumping CO2 into dwindling oil fields to get the last bit of oil out of the ground. The two pipelines in Iowa are being offered as false climate solutions, especially if they will be utilized for enhanced oil recovery and extending the life of coal-fired power plants and the ethanol industry.

We already know the solutions to our climate crisis – we must end our dependence on fossil fuels and invest in solar, wind, battery storage, conservation and efficiency!

Sierra Club website.

Click on this link to learn more about actions you can take to oppose the Iowa CCS projects. Click here to sign the Sierra Club petition on CCS.

Categories
Sustainability

What Will It Take on Climate Change?

Earthrise, Dec. 24, 1968

The 26th Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, Scotland seemed like a dud. My friend Rob Hogg corrected me on Twitter, posting:

So there were some positive developments. I’m reminded that zero countries is the number living up to their 2015 commitments to reduce greenhouse gases at COP 21 in Paris, France. It is difficult to let go the negativity when it comes to our collective lack of action on climate change.

On a video call a friend asked if we had installed solar panels to generate electricity for our home. I know our financial condition well enough to say it is unlikely we will because of the up front capital expense. We are doing okay financially yet know our limits.

“When it comes to climate change, we can’t afford to go backward—or even stay where we are,” former president Barack Obama said. “If we are going to act on the scale that’s required to combat this climate crisis, we all need to step up and meet this moment together.”

What does “together” mean? It means governments and a select group of non-governmental organizations and rich people that have the means to address climate change at scale. Behind Obama’s statement is the assumption we live in a democracy. Increasingly, we don’t, as floods of dark money buy our government, including the court system. An individual’s local actions matter, yet they are not enough, especially if one is the only person on the block generating electricity from solar panels.

Former Vice President Al Gore weighed in on COP 26:

Statement from Former US Vice President Al Gore on the Outcome of COP 26

“The Glasgow Climate Pact and the pledges made at COP 26 move the global community forward in our urgent work to address the climate crisis and limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, but we know this progress, while meaningful, is not enough. We must move faster to deliver a just transition away from fossil fuels and toward a cleaner and more equitable future for our planet.

The progress achieved in the lead-up to and at COP 26 was only possible because of the power of people – young and old – using their voices to demand action.

Thanks to that advocacy, for the first time in 26 negotiations, leaders at COP 26 agreed to language that calls for a phase down of coal power and fossil fuel subsidies – a critically important step forward. Even more important, the deal significantly accelerates the timeline for nations to revisit and strengthen their net zero goals, calling for updates from every nation by the end of next year and a global convening by the UN Secretary General in 2023 to focus on more ambitious goals for cutting emissions dramatically by 2030. But despite that progress, there is much more that must be done – especially to deliver meaningful climate finance for both mitigation and adaptation to developing nations.

Ultimately, the outcome of COP 26 shows us that it has never been more important to hold our leaders accountable to their words and pledges. Advocates for climate action cannot – and must not – let up.

Six years ago, the Paris Agreement set a clear direction of travel that is moving the world away from greenhouse gas pollution and toward a sustainable future. The deal reached at COP 26 reflects the progress we’ve made in the intervening years and shows that the global community of nations is now in agreement that the era of inaction on the climate crisis must come to a swift end.”

Now is the time for government leaders, policymakers, business leaders, consumers, and activists in every nation to redouble their efforts and use the Glasgow Climate Pact as a springboard from which to drive bold action that will keep the goals of the Paris Agreement alive.”

Al Gore, Nov. 13, 2021, The Climate Reality Project.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the scale of the climate change problem. It is a problem, although against all reasonable efforts to educate, even that is in question for many people.

I wrote to my federal elected officials about how climate change impacted my life. I heard back from Rep. Miller-Meeks and Senator Grassley and am assessing their responses. I’m using my voice to raise the issue with my federal elected officials. Their response falls flat.

We have the tools we need to solve the climate crisis. That seems certain. Yet a society that is interested in supporting the richest among us more than taking care of each other is morally bankrupt.

The latest revelations about the Trump administration’s efforts to manipulate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic are evidence that the highest office in government was willing to use mass-death as a political weapon at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. What kind of human can support that? Yet Trump flags fly unabated in our neighborhood. It is clear the previous administration was going to do nothing about the climate crisis. If they get back in office after the 2024 elections, they will set about undoing what Biden got started to address climate change and more.

In this context it is important to ask, “What will it take on climate change?” From these quotations and more, we know it will take action on a scale only governments can provide. Yet we can’t be reduced to helping political candidates we favor get elected. There is something more at stake. Regardless who holds political office, governments must act on climate change. There will come a time, and soon, when it will become obvious to even the most prominent naysayers we have to act. So we keep plugging away and hope we are not already too late.

Categories
Sustainability

Innovations in the Climate Crisis – CCS

I viewed the S&P Global Market Intelligence discussion between reporter Taylor Kuykendall and Former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Nov. 8. The thirty minute video is worth viewing to hear Moniz on major technologies and technological developments that will help prevent and mitigate the effects of global warming on humans.

Dr. Moniz answered the question I posted in the YouTube chat: “Regarding CCS (carbon capture and sequestration), how important is it to leave sequestered carbon in the ground? If a market for CO2 were developed, would there be an interest in digging it back up?”

He sort of laughed at the idea of “digging it up” as something that would not be done, yet gave an answer I hadn’t expected. There may be engineering applications to use captured CO2 in order to address our goal of net zero emissions by 2050, rather than burying it in geologically stable underground rock formations. This has been a point of contention with opponents to the Summit project.

Summit Carbon Solutions, an Iowa company, has proposed construction of a pipeline to transport liquefied CO2 captured from ethanol plants and other Iowa industrial producers to North Dakota for sequestration. The Iowa Utilities Board approved public hearings in the 30 counties the proposed pipeline would cross. One of the sticking points between activists who oppose the pipeline and the company was about Summit making a written commitment to leave any sequestered carbon in the ground permanently. CEO Bruce Rastetter indicated they would not make such a commitment because markets may be found for captured CO2. Moniz’ comments yesterday indicated such markets are under study and may be developed in order to address the climate crisis.

Is carbon capture and sequestration technology a hero that will help society reach net zero emissions by 2050, or is it a villain that will violate landowner rights and cause more pollution than it prevents? Fossil fuels should be left in the ground.

The highlight of Moniz’ interview for me was that advocates against the Summit Project (or the similar Navigator CO2 Ventures project) have a lack of big picture information about addressing the climate crisis using carbon capture and sequestration technologies. The information has not been readily available.

Ed Fallon of Bold Iowa isn’t perfect. However, he is a veteran of multiple pipeline fights. In a Sept. 23 blog post he outlined his concerns about the Summit project. He claimed Summit plans to use sequestered CO2 for “fracking” instead of sequestering it in the ground. He also claimed Summit wasn’t being transparent about their intentions. Summit denies these claims. Fallon is the right person to engage in a pipeline fight, yet his blog post lacked a depth of understanding of CCS beyond his immediate concerns. Ed could use more information as could we all.

Over the coming weeks, I intend to remedy the lack of accessible information about carbon capture and sequestration. In a series of articles, I will explain what it is, evaluate whether the Summit and Navigator projects are boondoggles designed to skim taxpayer money for the richest Americans, and what plans exist for implementing CCS as a solution to the climate crisis. Hopefully, with a better understanding of the technology and its proposed applications, advocates for and against it will have a better base of information to address the climate crisis. Stay tuned.

Categories
Environment

Time for Republicans to Act on Climate

Image of Earth 7-6-15 from DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory)

We witnessed climate change in Eastern Iowa. For me, it’s personal.

• The 1993 flood delayed progress building our home as we moved from Indiana.

• We experienced multiple straight line wind events that damaged the house, uprooted trees, blew down large branches, and tore through our neighborhood.

• Record flooding in 2008 filled much of the Iowa and Cedar River basins, backing up water into the Lake Macbride watershed to within 100 yards of our home. It made roads around us impassible and devastated many nearby places.

• Record drought in 2012 made life outdoors miserable. It negatively impacted crops. Corn yield in Johnson County decreased from 171.9 bushels per acre in 2011 to 132.4 in 2012, a 23 percent drop.

• There was a derecho on Aug. 10, 2020. In our yard it took down one tree and damaged several others. My greenhouse lifted into the air like Dorothy’s farmhouse in the Wizard of Oz. Winds up to 140 miles per hour destroyed 70 percent of the tree canopy in Cedar Rapids.

I know about climate change from living it, as do most Iowans. It’s time for our Republican members of Congress to work with Democrats and take action to mitigate it.

~ Published in the Iowa City Press Citizen on Oct. 30, 2021.

Categories
Environment

Letter to Federal Elected Officials

Woman Writing Letter

On Monday, Oct. 18, I wrote my federal elected officials regarding the climate crisis. If U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley or Joni Ernst, or Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks respond, I will copy the response below the text.

Dear Senator/Representative,

I hope you will support Democratic proposals to address the climate crisis.

As you well know, global warming is a crisis in Iowa.

I witnessed the effects of climate change multiple times since moving to our home near Solon.

  • The flood in 1993 delayed progress building our home as we moved from Indiana.
  • We experienced multiple straight line wind events that damaged the house, uprooted trees, blew down large branches, and tore through our neighborhood.
  • In 2008 there was record flooding that filled much of the Iowa and Cedar River basins, backing up water into the Lake Macbride watershed to within 100 yards of our home. It made roads around us impassible, and devastated Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and other nearby places.
  • In 2012 there was record drought which made life outdoors difficult and negatively impacted crops. In Johnson County corn yield decreased from 171.9 bushels per acre in 2011 to 132.4 in 2012, a 23 percent drop.
  • On Aug. 10, 2020 there was a derecho which took down one tree and damaged several others on our property. My greenhouse lifted in the air like Dorothy’s farmhouse in the Wizard of Oz. Winds up to 140 miles per hour destroyed 70 percent of the tree canopy in Cedar Rapids.

I know about climate change from living it as do most Iowans.

I don’t expect you to agree with everything Democrats propose. We both know that’s not how legislation works. I urge you to find common ground with other members of the Congress and take needed action to prevent and mitigate the worst effects of our warming planet.

Thank you for your consideration.

Regards, Paul

Email response dated Oct. 22, 2021.
Categories
Environment Sustainability

Climate Reality Global Training

I signed up to be a mentor for the Climate Reality Leadership Corps virtual, global training this month. There are more than 500 mentors this time. It’s a chance to meet new people who are taking climate action. The training is also a form of renewal.

I attended the Chicago training in 2013. Since then I mentored groups in Cedar Rapids, and twice virtually. It is a unique kind of work. It is based upon Vice President Al Gore’s slideshow, An Inconvenient Truth. Gore updates the slides continuously and presents it so attendees get a current and terrifying picture of the state of climate change on Earth. It is a crisis.

Sleep came slowly after viewing the first half of the presentation last night.

I wasn’t terrified by the terrifying information Mr. Gore presented. I witnessed the effects of climate change multiple times since moving to Big Grove. The flood in 1993 delayed progress building our home as we moved from Indiana. We experienced multiple straight line wind events that damaged the house, uprooted trees, blew down large branches, and tore through our neighborhood. In 2008 there was record flooding that filled much of the Iowa and Cedar River basins, backing up water into the Lake Macbride watershed to within 100 yards of our home. It made roads around us impassible, and devastated Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and other nearby places. In 2012 there was record drought which made life outdoors difficult and reduced corn yields significantly. On Aug. 10, 2020 there was a derecho which took down one tree and damaged several others on our property. My greenhouse lifted in the air like Dorothy’s farm house in the Wizard of Oz. Winds up to 140 miles per hour destroyed 70 percent of the tree canopy in Cedar Rapids. I know about climate change from living it.

What kept me up late was a newfound sense of hope. There was cause to re-engage in preventing the worst effects of the climate crisis and in mitigating its damage. I couldn’t sleep while the prospect of making a difference surged through me.

The Climate Reality Project rightly focuses on the change in society that most affects global warming: increased burning of fossil fuels. We must find alternative, renewable sources of energy, stop burning fossil fuels, and keep them the ground. We must find and adopt breakthrough technologies for electricity generation to use them to electrify transportation, buildings and industry. Agriculture must play its part by reducing emissions and sequestering carbon in the soil. Let’s put new technologies to work releasing energy for the economy in a way that will improve our quality of life. We must stop using the sky as if it were an open sewer.

I ask myself, how can I make a difference where I live? Personal change is part of solving the climate crisis. We must reduce our personal reliance on burning fossil fuels. Collective action is needed more and that means finding and organizing like-minded people in our area who are inspired to take climate action.

A solution is not evident today. I’m hopeful over the next eight days, along with my colleagues, we’ll discover and take a path forward. I’m okay with losing a little sleep from excitement about our collective future for now.

Categories
Environment

Rain Came and the NOAA Report

Sunrise before the rain.

We had good rain a couple of days this week with predictable results: garden tomatoes are swelling and cracking, the lawn is turning green, and there are more mosquitoes buzzing around the garden.

The county public health department identified a pool of mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile virus. They issued this press release:

Mosquito Surveillance Program Reveals West Nile Virus Risk

The Johnson County Public Health Mosquito Surveillance Program, in collaboration with testing from Iowa State University and the University of Iowa Hygienic Lab, have identified a pool of mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus (WNV). Mosquito samples from a trap located in Hickory Hill Park recently tested positive, suggesting mosquitoes with the potential to carry West Nile virus are likely present in the community.

This is the first pool of mosquitoes to test positive for West Nile virus in Johnson County, since the surveillance program was re-instituted in 2017. No human cases have been reported this season. “Historically, we are near the peak season for mosquito activity and potential WNV transmission, “said James Lacina, Environmental Health Manager at Johnson County Public Health. “Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to limit the risk of transmission, along with reducing habitat, such as areas of standing water where mosquitoes may breed.”

People can take simple precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites.
• Use an effective, EPA-registered insect repellent.
• Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors.
• Limit time outside from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
• Mosquito-proof your home by installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitos outside.
• Eliminate mosquito-breeding areas by disposing of standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths.

Email from Johnson County Public Health, Aug. 26, 2021

We don’t live near the park where West Nile virus was found yet I forwarded the notice to some friends who do. It is great to have a functioning public health department.

In other Thursday news, the Washington Post reported on release of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report “State of the Climate in 2020.” I haven’t read the 481-page document yet the news is not good, it is bad.

Contrary to some news stories about decreased greenhouse gas emissions during the coronavirus pandemic, an associated drop in carbon emissions was all but undetectable to scientists studying our air.

While humanity grappled with the deadliest pandemic in a century many metrics of the planet’s health showed catastrophic decline in 2020. Average global temperatures rivaled the hottest. Mysterious sources of methane sent atmospheric concentrations of the gas spiking to unprecedented highs. Sea levels were the highest on record; fires ravaged the American West; and locusts swarmed across East Africa.

Many measures of Earth’s health are at worst levels on record, NOAA finds by Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post Aug. 26, 2021.

We live in Biblical times with plague, locusts, drought, hurricanes, floods, rising sea levels and wildfires. The planet is literally burning up. While some hope for the rapture to take us from the problems of a deteriorating environment, the rest of us have to cope with the challenges of a planet whose atmosphere traps too much warmth.

Without consistent, concerted efforts to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities, scientists warn, Earth’s condition will continue to deteriorate.

Many measures of Earth’s health are at worst levels on record, NOAA finds by Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post Aug. 26, 2021.

Just read the two-page abstract of the report on page Siii. It is past time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. No single person can make a difference. It will take all of us working toward the same goal.

It’s no consolation the planet will be fine. The people living on it will not. It’s past time to act on climate.

Categories
Living in Society

Is Jessica Reznicek a Terrorist?

Jessica Reznicek Photo Credit: Twitter @FreeJessRez

Jessica Reznicek, a 39-year-old environmental activist and Catholic Worker from Des Moines, Iowa, was sentenced in federal court June 30 to eight years in prison for her efforts to sabotage construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

In November 2016, Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, a former preschool teacher, set fire to heavy construction equipment at a pipeline worksite in Buena Vista County, Iowa.

Over the next several months, the women used oxyacetylene torches, tires and gasoline-soaked rags to burn equipment and damage pipeline valves along the line from Iowa to South Dakota. Their actions reportedly caused several million dollars’ worth of damage and delayed construction for weeks.

Catholic activist sentenced for Dakota Access Pipeline vandalism by Claire Schaeffer-Duffy at NCROnline.com. To read the rest of the article, click here.

Reznicek’s criminal penalties were substantial. In addition to jail time, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger included $3,198,512.70 in restitution and three years’ post-prison supervised release after she plead guilty to a single count of damaging an energy facility, according to Common Dreams. It’s hard to argue her protest was intended to be non-violent. She used an oxyacetylene torch to damage the pipeline without knowing if fuel was in transit.

Reznicek is being prosecuted as a terrorist. Is that what she is? It seems unlikely the board of directors or billionaire Kelcey Warren of Energy Transfer Partners felt terrorized. They had reason to know there would be protests during construction, and likely built defense from them into their operating, overhead, and risk management budgets. For ETP, pipeline protests represented business as usual. In 2018 there was a “protect the protests” direct action in Dallas, Texas where demonstrators accused ETP at its corporate headquarters of attempting to silence them with lawsuits.

Like many in the Des Moines Catholic Worker community Reznicek has been willing to break the law in peaceful protest and has been arrested. In 2014, she was detained for nearly 48 hours and then deported after flying into Israel to support Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to the Des Moines Register. It seems obvious the Iowa Legislature had people like Reznicek in mind when they recently increased penalties for protesters.

I received the first of a series of emails from Reznicek during the Occupy Movement in 2011. She was an organizer for Occupy Iowa, Occupy Des Moines, Occupy the Caucus, Occupy Monsanto, Occupy the World Food Prize, and other direct action protests. She was arrested at some of these protests. It seemed like boilerplate organizing. Whatever cache the Occupy movement may have had, the work she did was straight forward with transparency. It was not a terrorist plot the way in 1995 Timothy McVeigh plotted to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. It would be better for the peace and justice movement if Reznicek did not have to spend her time serving time and defending herself in this prominent case. It goes with the territory, though.

The answer is no. Jessica Reznicek is not a terrorist. Society needs more people like her to call attention to injustice. If there is a cost to her protests, she has been willing to accept responsibility. If asked, my neighbors would say justice was served with Reznicek’s prosecution and sentencing. As it plays out in the judicial system, some of us wonder who will step in to fill her shoes in the peace and justice movement. It may be someone, but it won’t be her for a while.

~ Written for Blog for Iowa

Categories
Environment

Iowa Senators and Climate Change

2012 Drought Conference

In March I wrote my U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst about the climate crisis as follows:

I hope you will support the efforts of the Biden administration to act to mitigate the effects of our changing climate. Naturally I’m curious about your views on how you might address the effects of climate change while in the U.S. Senate. The approach of the Biden administration regarding mitigation of climate change is such there should be many areas in which to work with them without supporting an overarching environmental bill. I look forward to hearing your policy stances and how you can help address climate change while you are in the Congress. Thank you for your public service.

During a recent conference call with Ernst and a group of environmental activists, she touted her support for the then upcoming vote on the Growing Climate Solutions Act, the first bill to specifically address climate change since Biden was sworn in. Grassley and Ernst joined the 92-8 Senate majority to pass the bill on June 24. (Booker, Hawley, Inhofe, Lee, Markey, Merkley, Sanders and Warren were nays). Storm Lake journalist Art Cullen opined in the Washington Post, “Ignore the chatter. Stuff is getting done. And both parties are helping.

After familiarizing myself with the bill, I can only ask of the legislators, “What else you got?”

Below are the Iowa senators’ unedited responses to my query. Grassley’s is first because he is our senior senator. Ernst replied first. I’m glad to hear from our elected representatives.

April 14, 2021
Dear Mr. Deaton:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your concerns about the environment. As your senator, it is important to me that I hear from you.

I appreciate hearing your concerns about climate change. In contacting me, you shared your support for climate-related legislation. While I believe a changing climate is a historical and scientific fact, I also recognize that most scientists say man-made emissions contribute to these changes. With that being said, it is just common sense to promote the development of clean forms of energy. Throughout my tenure in the Senate, I have been a leader in promoting alternative and renewable energy sources as a way of protecting the environment and increasing our energy independence. I’ve been an advocate of various forms, including wind, biomass, agriculture wastes, ethanol and biodiesel.

I’m proud to let you know that Iowa has had much success in renewable fuels and wind energy production. As the number one producer of corn, ethanol, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, Iowa has the opportunity to lead our nation’s renewable fuels industry. This cleaner-burning, homegrown energy supports the economy by generating 47,000 jobs and nearly $5 billion of Iowa’s GDP. In 2018, Iowa produced 4.5 billion gallons of ethanol. In regards to environmental benefits, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 46 percent compared to conventional gasoline.

Iowa’s wind industry ranks second in the nation behind Texas. Wind energy supports over 9,000 jobs in Iowa alone and provides 40 percent of the state’s electricity. As the “father” of the Wind Energy Incentives Act of 1993, I sought to give this alternative energy source the ability to compete against traditional, finite energy sources. Like ethanol and other advanced biofuels, wind energy is renewable and does not obligate the United States to rely on unstable foreign states.

The most effective action Congress can take to address this issue is to advance policies that increase the availability and affordability of alternative and renewable energy sources. If alternative energy sources can become more competitive, market forces will drive a natural, low-cost transition in our energy mix that will be a win-win for American families. I will keep your thoughts in mind as the Senate considers related legislation in the future.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate hearing your concerns and encourage you to keep in touch.
Sincerely,

Chuck Grassley
United States Senate

March 25, 2021
Dear Mr. Deaton,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the issue of climate change. It is important for me to hear from folks in Iowa on policy matters such as this.

As you may know, on January 21, 2015, during the Keystone XL Pipeline debate, I voted in support of S.A. 29, an amendment offered by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that acknowledged the existence of climate change. I do believe that the climate is changing, however, the science surrounding climate change continues to develop, and additional, objective research needs to be done to conclusively identify the root causes. Our climate is experiencing a period of changing temperatures, but it is important to note that not all scientists agree on the cause.

I believe that government can take reasonable and concrete steps to protect and improve the environment. This includes encouraging the utilization of a diverse mix of energy resources and improving energy efficiency. We can also make personal choices that have a positive impact on the environment—I am a committed recycler.

I support an all of the above energy approach that increases America’s energy independence and domestic production. Iowa is a national leader in alternative energy sources. As a result, nearly 40% of electricity generated in our state is by wind. I believe America can responsibly take advantage of our nation’s abundant resources while also emphasizing conservation and efficiency.

We all care about clean water and clean air, but any efforts to reduce pollution must be done in a thoughtful manner that involves the communities, businesses, and families that will be most affected by changes to rules and regulations. Climate change is an international issue, not one limited to the United States. Any policies designed to mitigate the effects of climate change should take into consideration the impact they will have on American consumers and also on our businesses and their ability to compete globally and create jobs.

Please know that I will continue to keep your views in mind as the Senate works on this issue. Feel free to contact my office with any further information, as I always enjoy hearing from Iowans.
Sincerely,

Joni K. Ernst
United States Senator

~ Written for Blog for Iowa.