Environment & Weather
How You Can Help Tackle the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Thursday, 17 January 2013 14:16
Activist Shares 5 Tips to Reduce Plastic Waste
& Ocean Pollution

It’s a growing problem in the northern Pacific Ocean and one that could change life on our planet within the next 20 years.

“I remember the first time I felt it; I was paddling out on my surfboard and noticed a mushy, plastic-like substance sliding through my fingers. That’s what started my obsession with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” says charity fundraiser and environmentalist Veronica Grey. “The patch is located between Hawaii and California in the northern Pacific Ocean, where millions of small bits of plastic have gathered in a vortex of ocean currents known as a gyre.”

As someone with ample experience raising awareness for worthy causes, Grey paired her professional skills with her personal passion for the ocean, creating the award-winning documentary “Aqua Seafoam Shame,” (www.Pacific-TV.com), which spotlights the mess in the ocean that has garnered precious little media attention, she says.

“Fifteen years ago The Patch was the size Texas, but now it’s the size of the continental United States,” says Grey, who used her iPhone to shoot the documentary, which features renowned scientists, journalists and environmentalists.

Plastic in the ocean has far-reaching implications that, if not addressed within 20 years, could change life on this planet, she says. To date, 177 species of sea life are known to ingest plastic; other species feed on those creatures, extending the chain of damage.

“People eat the seafood that eats plastic, and the planet gets its rain from the oceans, which are being polluted at an exponential rate,” she says. “We use significantly more of our planet’s surface as a dump than for growing food; this has to change.”

To begin addressing plastics pollution, Grey encourages people to use alternatives:

• Americans buy 2 million bottles of water every five minutes; ditch plastic bottles and use glass or recyclable cans.

• Carry a cost-effective canvas bag instead getting disposable plastic bags at the grocery store. We waste 10 billion plastic bags every week!

• Do not line your trash cans with plastic bags. Use paper bags or nothing.

• Skip the lid on your to-go drinks. The paper cup is normally recyclable but the lid usually isn't.

• Remember that each and every time you flush; it all ends up in the ocean. Be mindful of what you toss in your toilet!

About Veronica Grey

Veronica Grey is an award-winning author and filmmaker. A graduate of UCLA, she is a regular contributor to TV stations across the country and is the recipient of the 2011 New Media award from the Pare Lorentz Film Festival. “Aqua Seafoam Shame” is a critically acclaimed documentary that explores the diagnosis that 25 percent of our planet's surface is now a landfill, due to the Pacific garbage patch and plastics. The movie also explores the process by which conscientious companies, some because of her encouragement, switched from plastic to a more sustainable alternative. Grey was born on PI (3.14) in PI (Philippines Island) and she is recognized as a numbers savant.

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.


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.


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/.


  • 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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