Environment & Weather
Loebsack Leads Call for Action on Wind Energy Prior to Adjournment PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Joe Hand   
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 13:46

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today led a call to Congressional leaders to take action and extend the job-creating Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) before the 113th Congress adjourns. Loebsack joined with Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Bruce Braley in writing to the leaders of both the House and Senate calling for Congress to provide the wind energy industry the stability it needs to operate. The three have been longtime proponents of the wind energy industry.

“Like all businesses, the wind industry seeks certainty and predictability so that long term project decisions and investments can be made. Without that stability, we once again risk losing many of the jobs, infrastructure and investment that the wind industry has created,” the Members wrote. “Time is running out for us to pass an extension of the PTC and ITC to help to avoid further layoffs and divestment. It is imperative that a vote to extend these important provisions occurs before the 113th Congress adjourns sine die.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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Governor Quinn Visits Washington and Brookport Communities on Anniversary of Deadly Tornadoes PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 09:58

Governor Participates in Memorial Dedication Service, Announces Additional State Relief Toward Recovery Process

WASHINGTON – One year after deadly tornadoes devastated several areas of Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn today visited two of Illinois’ hardest-hit communities, Washington and Brookport, to visit with families and participate in the dedication of a new memorial to mark the tragedy. The Governor also announced additional state recovery assistance to aid the two communities who are still in the process of rebuilding and recovery one year later.

“One year ago we saw unimaginable destruction in central Illinois, and today we gather together to reflect on the healing process,” Governor Quinn said. “Tragedy struck Illinois last November, but we refused to give up on these towns no matter how long it took for them to get back on their feet. Rebuilding Washington and Brookport has been an amazing demonstration of what can be done when communities come together in the face of hard times. It’s important that we continue to support the local governments, businesses and families affected by this disaster until the recovery process is completed.”

The Governor’s additional investments announced today are from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and total $1.3 million between Illinois’ two hardest hit communities. The $398,283 for Washington and the $938,100 for Brookport will help local governments rebuild tornado-damaged infrastructure.

Including today’s announced funding, Washington has received $13.4 million and Brookport $2.9 million in state assistance to recover from the November 17, 2013 tornadoes. The investment is the latest in more than $19.5 million in state assistance provided to date for tornado damaged communities from the November disaster.

“Our community thanks Governor Quinn for his commitment to Washington’s recovery,” Washington Mayor Gary Manier said. “He was here immediately following the storms and has been back frequently to see how we are doing and to provide the assistance we need. We can’t say enough about what the Governor has done for our community, and we welcome him here today to help us remember what happened one year ago and to honor those we lost.”

“Governor Quinn literally saved our community from bankruptcy, because without this state assistance to help with tornado-related expenses we wouldn’t have been able to survive,” Brookport Mayor John Klaffer said. “The state relief package has made all the difference in the world. The Governor kept his word, and we welcome him back with open arms today to join us in our day of remembrance.”

The state's multi-agency relief package for local governments included assistance from DCEO, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Finance Authority, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The local government entities that have received state assistance to recover from the storms a year ago include:

·         Arcola Township, $380

·         Braceville Township, $219,744

·         City of Brookport, $2,971,202

·         Champaign County, $44,528

·         Champaign County Highway Department, $1,753

·         Claypool Drainage & Levee District, $14,625

·         Village of Coal City, $446,096

·         Compromise Township, $394,546

·         Compromise Township Road District, $17,416

·         City of Danville, $43,258

·         Douglas County, $1,086

·         City of East Peoria, $522,179

·         Village of Diamond, $433,590

·         City of Fairfield, $3,281

·         Village of Garrett, $750

·         Village of Gifford, $750,996

·         Grundy County Sheriff, $7,944

·         Kerr Township, $1,700

·         Massac County, $23,549

·         Metamora Township, $5,581

·         City of Minonk, $12,339

·         Murdock Township, $425

·         Newman Township Road District, $757

·         City of Pekin, $100,688

·         Tazewell County, $33,511

·         Village of Tilton, $1,202

·         Tuscola Township, $1,348

·         Tuscola Township Highway Department, $780

·         Vermilion County, $2,085

·         City of Washington: $13,440,177

·         Washington Community High School, $5,077

·         Washington Park District, $15,658

·         Washington Township Road District, $8,676

·         Woodford County, $26,757

·         Woodford County Highway Department, $6,712

TOTAL:  $19,504,334

Shortly after the deadly storms on November 17, 2013, Governor Quinn surveyed the damaged areas and activated the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the deployment of state resources and personnel in support of local response and recovery efforts. He ordered state agencies to step in when federal disaster assistance for local governments was denied. However, the Governor was successful in getting federal disaster assistance for families and businesses in 15 Illinois counties which has topped $23.5 million.

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USDA Launches Site to Provide Climate Information to Producers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 08:41

The USDA Climate Hubs web site was launched. The new site provides a portal for farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and others to find useful, practical information to help cope with the challenges and stressors caused by a changing climate. The site provides resources related to drought, fire risks, pests and diseases, climate variability, and heat stress, and links users to the network of USDA conservation programs and resources that provide producers with technical and financial assistance to manage risks.

Each region also has its own site. For more information, see the "USDA Climate Hubs Website: Connecting Stakeholders to the Hubs" blog.

 
Branstad, Reynolds, Northey and state officials submit comments on federal “Waters of the United States” proposed rule PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Monday, 20 October 2014 10:28

Proposed federal rule will impose barriers to the advancement of innovative, state- and local-driven conservation practices that would advance our common goal of water quality

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary Bill Northey, along with relevant state leaders, today sent a letter and submitted comments to United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Army for Civil Works Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy on the proposed “Waters of the United States” federal rule under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

“The overriding concern of a diverse group of impacted stakeholders, including state leaders, is that the proposed rule will impose significant barriers to the advancement of innovative, state- and local-driven conservation and environmental practices that would actually advance our common goal of water quality,” the letter reads. “Because the proposed rule is fatally flawed, we request that it be withdrawn and that future rulemaking be appropriately coordinated with States and relevant stakeholders. We agree that clean water requires good, clear, well-designed regulations – unfortunately, the ones currently being proposed are not.”

The letter outlines four key concerns from relevant stakeholders:

Disregard for states’ lead role under the CWA to protect and promote water quality

Section 101(b) of the CWA clearly states that, “it is the policy of the Congress to recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of States to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution, to plan the development and use (including restoration, preservation and enhancement) of land and water resources...”

The proposed rule confuses Federal control with environmental protection. The State of Iowa believes that environmental protection is best driven locally.

A disconnect between content and intent

The Federal government’s proposed approach, and the content of the proposed rule, would seriously impair advancements in water quality in the State of Iowa. As an example, too many Iowa farmers would be forced to gain Federal permits to advance water quality infrastructure projects, which would discourage agricultural producers from undertaking the very projects that would improve water quality throughout the State.

Increased uncertainty from the proposed federal rule

The proposed rule increases, rather than decreases uncertainty for various stakeholders. The proposed rule is more ambiguous than current law and promises to be tied up in litigation for years to come, creating uncertainty within conservation interests, industries and communities across the state.

Underestimation of costs of the burdensome proposed federal rule

Permitting compliance costs will siphon finite resources that would better be used to advance conservation best practices and infrastructure in Iowa’s countryside. Permitting delays would also increase the costs of conservation and economic development projects.  Additional costs would impact public transportation projects, renewable energy projects, electricity distribution, disaster recovery projects, mitigation projects, and so on. Every day those projects are delayed has real costs that are currently unaccounted for by the Federal government. There would also be additional enforcement costs that current staffing levels at both the Federal and State levels are not positioned to meet. The rule as proposed would essentially be an unfunded mandate on State agencies tasked with CWA enforcement.

The letter concludes, “The Federal government's proposed rule seems to be more concerned with asserting Federal control over local water bodies than actually improving local water quality. Thus, we were encouraged recently by the bipartisan support in the United States House of Representatives to block the advancement of this flawed rule. Those concerns were similarly echoed in a bipartisan fashion by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture members who unanimously called on the Federal government to withdraw the rule. We strongly urge you to listen to the consensus concerns of the States, including Iowa, and withdraw this rule.”

The Director of Iowa Department of Natural Resources Chuck Gipp, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority Debi Durham, Director of Iowa Department of Transportation Paul Trombino III, Chair of the Iowa Utilities Board Libby Jacobs and Director of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Mark Schouten joined Branstad, Reynolds and Northey in signing the letter.

State of Iowa leaders care deeply about water quality.  Since 2011, new General Fund appropriations for water quality related initiatives have increased by 26%.  In just the last two years (FY 14 and FY 15), over $50 million dollars were allocated to support water quality related state initiatives. This historic level of investment does not even include the cost-share dollars spent by farmers, landowners and communities on these efforts.

The full letter can be read here. The enclosures from the letter can be read here.

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Be Prepared for Colder Weather PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Jason Lee   
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 08:36

Aire Serv® has cold weather tips for HVAC systems

WACO, Texas (Oct. 14, 2014) – October is here and that means cold weather is not far off. Before the cold days come to stay, it’s important to make sure furnaces are up the task of working all fall and winter and air conditioners are properly maintained and stored so they are ready for spring and summer. These tips from Aire Serv will help ensure both the furnace and air conditioner will be ready for the colder days ahead.

The furnace

Make sure the pilot light is working properly. Older style units usually have a pilot light that remains on the entire time. Newer style units tend to have pilot lights that only turn on when the furnace is running. With either type unit, make sure the area is cleaned and there is no debris near the pilot light that can potentially be a fire hazard.

Heat pumps

Coils of heat pumps that are blocked by ice will not run efficiently. The ice build up will block proper heat transfer between refrigerant and the outside air causing the system to not run at peak performance. Make sure to keep the heat pump clear of snow and ice.

Air conditioning units

Remove snow and other debris such as leaves away from the unit. This includes keeping the underneath side of the unit free of leaves and snow as well as the back of the unit that faces the house. Never remove snow or debris using sharp objects. Objects with sharp edges can easily damage unit fins and refrigerant coils.

Check the guttering above the unit to ensure it drains properly and does not drip on the unit. Guttering that drops water on the unit needs to be replaced or repaired so that it drains properly.

Check the unit to make sure it is level. A unit that is not level will not run properly. A unit may settle over time. If the ground has caused the unit to sink, contact a service professional so it can be properly leveled.

Window units

The best thing to do with window units is to remove them once the cooler weather starts. Once removed, properly store the window unit in a covered area like a garage. If it is not possible to remove the window unit, place a protective cover over the unit and make sure the area surrounding the window unit is properly sealed for the fall and winter months.

About Aire Serv®:

Established in 1992, Aire Serv is a global franchise organization providing installation, maintenance and repair of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and indoor air quality systems. Recognized by Entrepreneur magazine among its “Franchise 500,” Aire Serv franchisees provide services to both residential and commercial customers from more than 180 locations worldwide. Aire Serv is a subsidiary of The Dwyer Group, Inc., family of service franchises. For more information or to find the location nearest you, visit AireServ.com.

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