Environment & Weather
Become a Mater Conservationist in 2013 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Thursday, 17 January 2013 09:50
If you are interested in understanding the nature around you and making good choices for the environment, the Iowa Master Conservationist program should be on your “to do” list for the new year.

The course will teach topics such as wildlife diversity, prairies and grasslands, wetlands and waste reduction. Participants will receive 32 hours of instruction from February to July, 2013 with many of the classes held at outside locations. A second part of the experience is participation in local natural resource related projects of the student’s choosing. Co-sponsored by Nahant Marsh and ISU Scott County Extension and Outreach, the course has support from the Extension Wildlife Programs at Iowa State University.

Registrations are accepted at ISU Scott County Extension and Outreach and there is a maximum class size of 25 so early registrations are encouraged. Participants must be 18 years of age and register by February 11, 2013. Cost is $150.

Contact the Scott County Extension office (563-359-7577) for registration information or Nahant Marsh (563-323-5196) for additional course information.

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Branstad, Reynolds fight onerous RICE rule on behalf of Iowans, EPA accepts their alternative PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Jimmy Centers   
Thursday, 17 January 2013 09:03

Changes will save families, businesses and communities significant initial and annual costs

(DES MOINES) – The Governor’s Office today announced the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accepted Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds’ alternative to the RICE rule. After signing an Executive Order, meeting with EPA head Lisa Jackson, and pushing for the elimination of burdensome regulations, Branstad has secured significant savings for Iowa families, businesses and communities.

“Lieutenant Governor Reynolds and I made a commitment to Iowans when we took office to fight burdensome government regulations regardless if they came from the state or federal government,” said Branstad. “Recognizing this unnecessary onerous rule would raise costs on Iowa families, I signed Executive Order 72 to rescind the Iowa’s adoption of the rule. I am pleased to learn the Environmental Protection Agency has listened to my concerns over the rule and opted against requiring generators to be retrofitted with expensive components.”

Average Iowa families faced the potential of hundreds of dollars in utility bills if the RICE rule would have been implemented. As the RICE rule was originally written, back-up diesel generators used by municipal utilities in several of Iowa’s rural communities would be required to be retrofitted with very expensive new parts, even though the engines are rarely used.  These new requirements would have meant higher utility costs for residents in sixty-seven Iowa communities.

“This is an issue that came up in one of our town hall meetings, and the governor and I pledged to take action,” said Lt. Gov. Reynolds. “This is the benefit of visiting all 99 counties each year and listening to the concerns of Iowans.”

Gov. Branstad met with EPA head Lisa Jackson on June 20, 2011, to express his concerns over the costs being passed on to Iowans. Branstad explained that the costs of retrofitting the generators, which would be passed on to Iowa consumers, were extraordinarily high given the little amount the generators are used each year and the rule should be rescinded.

Yesterday, the Governor’s Office was informed the EPA finalized changes to the RICE Rule which will help keep utility costs low for hard-working Iowa families.  Specifically, the EPA updated the rule with a broader usage definition of emergency use, which will allow utility companies to use these important back-up engines during winter storms or power outages, without necessarily having to retrofit the engines with the expensive new components.

According to the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, the following communities/municipal utilities utilize diesel engines and would be affected by the RICE rule: Algona, Alta, Anita, Atlantic, Bancroft, Bellevue, Bloomfield, Brooklyn, Cascade, Coggon, Coon Rapids, Corning, Dayton, Denison, Dike, Durant, Earlville, Estherville, Forest City, Cowrie, Graettinger, Grand Junction, Greenfield, Grundy Center, Harlan, Hopkinton, Independence, Indianola, La Porte City, Lake Mills, Lake Park, Lamoni, Laurens, Lenox, Manning, Maquoketa, McGregor, Milford, Montezuma, Mount Pleasant, New Hampton, Ogden, Onawa, Osage, Panora, Pella, Pocahontas, Preston, Primghar, Rock Rapids, Rockford, Sibley, Strawberry Point, Story City, Stuart, Summer, Tipton, Traer, Villisca, Vinton, Waverly, West Bend, West Liberty, Whittemore, Wilton and Winterset.

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Climate Action on Presidents Day PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Sierra Club   
Thursday, 27 December 2012 09:46
Six weeks after superstorm Sandy, much of the New Jersey Coast -- where I grew up and my family still lives -- remains in ruins.

No one is allowed to move back permanently yet -- and none of us were prepared for what we saw the first time we were let in to view the damage. The first floor of almost every house was gutted. It's surreal and heart-sickening to look down the streets and see the piles of people's storm-damaged possessions -- carpet, furniture, appliances, toys, and clothing -- lined up like haystacks.

The climate crisis is here, it is now, and it is affecting real lives. It has never been clearer that we need bold and immediate leadership. That's why on February 17, thousands of citizens will head to the White House and demand President Obama take serious action on climate -- you should be one of them.

Traveling to D.C. is no small task, but something this big has to start early, and it has to start with the people who care the most. 8,000 activists have already RSVP'd. Join them at the White House in Washington D.C on February 17 and make this the biggest climate demonstration yet: Those affected by Sandy are not the first Americans touched by the climate crisis. Last year, the U.S. had 14 storms that caused more than $1 billion in damages each, breaking all records. And across the country, wildfires have destroyed thousands of homes from Texas to Washington.

But there is good news. Together, we've proven time and time again that grassroots voices can speak louder than Big Coal and Big Oil's deep pockets. The last time we gathered in Washington, D.C., to demand climate action, thousands of us surrounded the White House -- and it worked. Right when every political "expert" said the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was a done deal, we beat the odds and convinced President Obama to take a year to study it.

So this Presidents Day, activists from the Sierra Club, 350.org, and other partner groups are going back. This will be the biggest climate demonstration yet -- if you can make it, you need to come and be a part of history.

You can make this a Presidents Day that President Obama won't forget -- sign up to join the rally, stop the toxic Keystone XL pipeline, and create tangible momentum for further climate action.

Together, it's our job to make sure the President sees a movement on climate that he can't ignore. We'll have more details about the rally next month, but for now, start making travel plans and circle February 17 on your calendar.

See you in February,

Michael Brune
Sierra Club Executive Director

 
IBHS Guidance on How to Safely Remove Snow on Your Roof PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Joseph King   
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 15:06

As severe winter weather spreads across the country, heavy snow can put a strain your roof, leaving your property at risk of costly damage.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a blizzard warning as far west as Colorado and as far northeast as Wisconsin. As a result, residents throughout the Rockies and Midwest could see significant amounts of snow on Wednesday through Friday.

If heavy snow is left on your roof, it can result in costly water damage, or even cause your roof to collapse. Safely remove snow from your roof by using the following guidance from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

Find additional resources to prevent roof damage during severe winter weather at http://disastersafety.org/freezing_weather/prevent-roof-collapse/.

SAFELY REMOVE SNOW ON YOUR ROOF

  • Snow removal equipment meant for pavement should never be used on the roof since they can damage the roof cover system.
  • Stay grounded. Use a snow rake with a long extension arm that will allow you to remove the snow while standing on the ground.
  • You are likely not a tightrope walker, so don’t use a roof rake while on a ladder.
  • Hire a snow removal contractor if you feel uncomfortable removing snow from your roof. Look for an established, licensed and bonded professional. Be sure to check references, and ask to see the contractor’s certificates of insurance.

for more information about how to make your buildings more resistant to a variety of disasters, large and small. Follow IBHS on Twitter at @DisasterSafety and on

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Simon, River Council to Army Corps: Reconsider Mississippi River decision if drought continues PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kara Beach   
Monday, 10 December 2012 09:08

Stakeholders to monitor Mississippi river levels; aim to prevent halt in barge traffic

CARLYLE – December 7, 2012. One day after sending a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging it to protect Mississippi River commerce, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon convened a quarterly meeting of the Mississippi River Coordinating Council (MRCC) today to address low water levels that are jeopardizing barge traffic along the river.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has previously rejected requests from state and local officials to allow increased flow from the Missouri River into the Mississippi River to offset low river levels in the Mississippi. Simon is asking officials to continuously monitor river levels and reconsider this decision if necessary.

“Extreme drought earlier this year has caused dramatically low water levels across the country, which is particularly noticeable in the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Cairo,” said Simon. “I asked the Army Corps to closely monitor this situation and intervene if necessary to preserve this essential economic resource and keep barge traffic moving along the Mississippi.”

Officials representing the USACE attended the meeting today and highlighted the impact the 2012 drought has had on water levels of both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The USACE is bound by law to annually reduce the amount of water flowing from the Missouri River in order to preserve the upper Missouri River basin. Revised forecasts show the Mississippi river water level isn’t falling as fast as first projected, and the Army Corps is ready to remove rock pinnacles that could stand in the way of some barge traffic.

Lt. Governor Simon will maintain close contact with the USACE and state and federal leaders as they monitor the situation and take further action. Already water levels are approaching 1989’s record drought levels, and barges are currently required to carry lighter loads. Proceeding to cut off water flow from the Missouri River could completely halt barge traffic as early as this month. The Corps continues to monitor water levels and will start blasting rock structures that could obstruct barges along the Mississippi River early next month.

“The Corps of Engineers has to consider the different needs of people, economy and the environment when making decisions about our water resources,” said Colonel Chris Hall, commander of the St. Louis District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “That is a challenge in years with typical water levels; it is critical in a drought. We've been able to maintain an authorized channel that keeps commerce moving on the middle Mississippi River despite historic low levels. This is only the first year of what could be a persistent drought, so we need to look at the impacts of our decisions with that in mind.”

Mississippi River commerce is estimated to be a $180 billion a year industry. If water levels drop below nine feet, barge traffic from St. Louis to Cairo, Ill. could be shut down. Corporation heads from Caterpillar, ADM, Navistar and others have joined Lt. Governor Simon in writing to Assistant Secretary Darcy. Governor Pat Quinn’s administration also continues to work with federal officials to keep the river open.

Lt. Governor Simon chairs the Mississippi River Coordinating Council, composed of a diverse group of citizens, not-for-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies. The Council coordinates initiatives, projects and funding to promote the ecological health of the Mississippi River and its tributaries by addressing the issues in the watershed.

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