Science & Technology
Conference on Fossil Resources kicks off at SDSM&T PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Dani Doran   
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 08:19

RAPID CITY, S.D. (May 13, 2014) – The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is hosting the 2014 Conference on Fossil Resources, attracting nearly 120 paleontological experts from around the world.

The conference begins today and runs through Thursday. The focus will be on partnerships between federal and non-federal agencies in managing fossils found on public lands. The university’s Museum of Geology has been a repository for federal, tribal and state fossils for many years

“We are considered by several of the agencies to be a poster child for good professional relations between museums and agencies, especially now that our Paleontology Research Laboratory is open,” said Sally Shelton, associate director at the museum and conference chair.

The conference will highlight the history of Fossil Cycad National Monument, between Hot Springs and Edgemont, the only National Park Service unit ever decommissioned because its main resource was removed or stolen. Conference attendees will travel to the site on Wednesday afternoon following a moderated morning session on the site’s history and future.

Other conference highlights include sessions on monitoring/mitigation paleontology, when experts work to salvage fossils from construction, highway and industrial sites, as well as law enforcement issues when sites are damaged and fossils are stolen.

Attendees will come from throughout the United States, Canada, Uruguay and the United Kingdom. Representatives of the Cheyenne River Reservation’s and Pine Ridge Reservation’s Tribal Historic and Cultural Heritage Preservation offices will discuss paleontology resource management issues. “One of our priorities is training the next generation of tribal paleontologists in this region,” Shelton said.

About a dozen School of Mines paleontology students are highly involved in the conference. The School of Mines teaches the only graduate/undergraduate course in paleontology resource management in the country, preparing students for industry jobs in monitoring paleontology, federal, state agency and tribal jobs, and paleontology law enforcement jobs.

“I am very proud of the students. They will get a terrific chance to talk to and network with the experts in these fields,” Shelton said. The School of Mines has been asked to contribute to a textbook on mitigation paleontology. The book’s lead authors will attend the conference.

A reception celebrating the life of longtime museum volunteer Bill Schurmann and an announcement of a new exhibit/program made possible by his estate gift will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Museum of Geology, third floor of the O’Harra Building. The conference is dedicated to the memory of Schurmann in honor of his many years of volunteer service to the museum and the School of Mines.

One of the notable guests will include Vernon Bump, son of early museum director James Dye Bump.

The conference is sponsored by the Museum of Geology at the School of Mines, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service.

The three-day conference kicks off with welcome remarks at 8 a.m. in the Surbeck Center ballroom. Today’s events also include the keynote address, presentations and posters. Wednesday’s events focus on the fossil Cycad National Monument and also include discussions on mitigation paleontology. Thursday’s events include a law enforcement discussion.


Branstad, Reynolds Renew Call for Robust Renewable Fuel Standard PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 12:38

Government officials in Iowa this week should encourage the EPA to maintain a strong RFS to strengthen America’s economy, encourage environmental protection and increase consumer choice

(DES MOINES)  - Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today renewed their call for the Obama Administration to support a robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). As government official travel to Iowa to discuss the environment today and tomorrow, Branstad and Reynolds believe they should focus on empowering consumers with additional and lower-cost choices at the pump, diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio, reducing transportation emissions, supporting the growth of the Midwest economy, and reducing our dependence on overseas oil through a strengthened RFS.

Elected officials, including Branstad, Reynolds, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Northey, and the entire Iowa congressional delegation have repeatedly encouraged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse course on their short-sighted proposed 2014 RFS volume obligation levels.

“President Obama recently indicated that he would take every executive action possible and leverage every existing authority to move the economy forward and advance his agenda. The President and Administrator McCarthy have existing authority to grow production and use of renewable fuels,” said Branstad. “If the President is serious about advancing renewables, like biofuels, as a solution to reducing emissions, then I encourage him to pick-up the phone to direct senior leaders in his Administration to support a robust RFS. President Obama’s Administration can nurture, through the stroke of a pen, future economic growth in Rural America and common sense energy policy.”

“We are proud of Iowa’s leadership in the production and use of renewable energy – both wind energy and biofuels. The RFS provides consumers choices at the fuel pump, and when given that choice, they often choose renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel,” said Reynolds. “I renew the bipartisan call from leaders across Iowa, and entire Midwest region, for the Obama Administration to support a robust RFS.”

Iowa is a leader in diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio through the production of renewable fuels, like wind energy and biofuels. Iowa leads the nation in wind power generation and places third behind only Texas and California for wind energy capacity. In 2013, Iowa was ranked among the top 12 states in the nation by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Iowa also leads the nation in biofuels production. By supporting a robust RFS, the Obama Administration can diversify our nation’s transportation fuels, add value to commodities grown in rural America, reduce emissions, and provide consumers low-cost choices at the pump.

Highlights of Iowa leaders’ engagement on the RFS include:

  • State and Federal elected officials, including Gov. Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds, participated in a “Defend the RFS” event.
  • Gov. Branstad traveled to Washington, DC, joining a small group of Iowa farmers and biofuels producers, to testify at the Federal government’s only public hearing and met with EPA Administrator McCarthy.
  • Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds, Secretary Bill Northey and the entire Iowa congressional delegation sent a joint letter to Federal leaders advocating for the many benefits that flow from the RFS.
  • Gov. Terry Branstad brought together a bipartisan group of six governors to sign on to a letter to President Barack Obama, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing their support for a strong RFS.
  • Leaders from across the Midwest joined Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds for their  “Hearing in Heartland,” which was open to all interested citizens; 83 panelists from across the Midwest Region spoke from the heart about the importance of the RFS to their livelihoods and a healthy rural economy while only two individuals expressed opposition to a robust RFS.
  • The Iowa Legislature unanimously passed bicameral, bipartisan resolutions calling for the EPA to reverse course and support a strong RFS. View the resolutions: House Resolution 101 | Senate Resolution 101
  • State of Iowa leaders submitted formal comments to the EPA with current data and analysis that provides Federal leaders the opportunity and obligation to revise their initial volume obligations upward.


Braley: Wind Energy is Good for Iowa, Critical to America’s Energy Independence PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Tuesday, 29 April 2014 13:27

Congressman continues work to extend Wind Production Tax Credit


Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today told key Congressional leaders that renewing the Wind Production Tax Credit—which has created billions of dollars in energy investment in Iowa and created over 6,000 jobs—must be renewed if the United States wants to continue moving toward energy independence.

“Anyone looking across the Iowa landscape knows that wind energy is a big part of our energy future—and that the Wind Production Tax Credit has brought investments and jobs to our state,” Braley said. “The path to American energy independence runs through Iowa and the wind production tax credit is critical if we’re going to continue moving successfully down that path.”

In December, Braley urged House Speaker John Boehner to extend the Wind Production Tax Credit—citing the creation of over 80,000 jobs nationwide attributable to the tax credit. Braley has repeatedly pushed for legislation that would extend the tax credit and provide certainty to investors and businesses in Iowa and throughout the nation.

“The benefits of this industry – local investment, domestic jobs, and energy independence – are exactly what Congress should prioritize,” Braley wrote.

A copy of Braley’s letter is available below and HERE:

April 28, 2014


The Honorable Dave Camp                           The Honorable Sander Levin

Chairman, House Committee                      Ranking Member, House

on Ways and Means                          Committee on Ways and Means

1102 Longworth HOB                            1106 Longworth HOB

Washington, D.C. 20515                          Washington, D.C. 20515


Dear Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin:

As you know, last year Members of Congress came together to pass the American Taxpayer Relief Act and preserve critical policies that benefit the American taxpayer, support our economy, and create jobs.  Included in this bill was an extension of the tax credit for wind production projects, which in 2012 directly supported 80,700 jobs across our nation and more than 6,000 in my home state of Iowa.  As you work to craft a tax-extension package to address expired provisions, I ask that you support the preservation of the production tax credit for renewable energy, including wind.

Preservation of the production tax credit would allow businesses to make critical investments in our nation’s energy infrastructure. MidAmerican, for instance, is making an investment of $1.9 billion to build a 448-turbine energy project across the state of Iowa – increasing clean energy production and creating jobs.

Unfortunately, investors and manufacturers are once again dealing with the expiration of this credit – a credit that historically drives $15 billion a year on average in private investments into the U.S. economy.  The benefits of this industry – local investment, domestic jobs, and energy independence – are exactly what Congress should prioritize.  As the House continues to address expiring provisions, I urge you to preserve the production tax credit and the promise it holds for our nation’s future.


Bruce Braley

Member of Congress



News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Monday, 28 April 2014 10:36

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today expressed disappointment that Iowa House Democrats decided to play politics with the “Connect Every Iowan Act” jeopardizing Iowans’ livelihood and jobs in underserved areas of the state.

After watching the Iowa House Democrats pull a page out of the Washington, D.C., playbook, Gov. Branstad issued the following statement:

“We know increasing Iowans’ access to broadband technology would allow for rural businesses to connect to the global marketplace. With increased access and adoption, more jobs can be created and family incomes will increase. Rather than coming together to pass common sense legislation to increase broadband access in rural Iowa, Iowa House Democrats have turned their backs on rural Iowans and those who are underserved. Today, the Iowa House Democrats played the worst of political cards; the Washington, D.C., hand of ignoring what is in the best interest of the taxpayers for political purposes.”


Loebsack continues fight to renew job-creating wind energy credit PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Joe Hand   
Friday, 04 April 2014 14:01

Two weeks ago, Congressman Loebsack joined with Rep. Steve King to lead 118 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives in calling for the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy. Earlier this week, he joined Sens. Grassley and Udall and Rep. King in authoring an op-ed entitled “Don't Pull the Plug: Wind Energy Empowers America” to continue to call attention to the need to extend the PTC, which will provide the needed stability for the wind energy industry.

Loebsack has been a longtime proponent of the wind energy industry, including being named a USA Wind Champion by the American Wind Energy Association for his ongoing support of wind energy in Iowa and his work to extend the PTC. He has visited wind energy plants across Iowa to see firsthand the need for stability that an extension of the PTC would provide and has repeatedly urged the House and Senate leadership to protect these good Iowa jobs. 

A copy of the op-ed follows.

Don't Pull the Plug: Wind Energy Empowers America  

By Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Mark Udall, Rep. Steve King & Rep. Dave Loebsack  

April 1, 2014

Momentum is building to extend expired tax provisions that lapsed Dec. 31. Of the 55 expired tax breaks on the table, wind energy incentives are among those left hanging. The industry faces instability and uncertainty caused by the expiration of the investment and production tax credits.  

We're working to build bipartisan, bicameral and regional alliances to secure a victory for America's 21st century clean energy policy. So far, 144 lawmakers have stood with us and hard-working families in our effort to support onshore and offshore wind energy developments in the tax extenders package.  

Specifically, we are pressing leaders in the House and Senate to prioritize extensions of the job-creating investment and production tax credits for wind energy. This federal tax policy has helped to launch a carbon-free energy source and diversify America's portfolio of homegrown, alternative sources of energy. The tax credits have helped to support 85,000 U.S. jobs; trigger $105 billion in private sector investment; reduce the carbon footprint by displacing carbon-emitting energy with clean generation wind energy (U.S. wind power capacity of more than 60,000 megawatts avoids 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road); and, harness an inexhaustible source of affordable, domestic electricity for consumers. 


Opponents of wind energy tax incentives argue the industry doesn't need any government support, yet there are plenty of tax policies for various industries that have been on the books for decades longer than those for wind. If one measure is on the table for potential removal, all of them should be on the table. Everything deserves consideration on its merits, and wind energy stands up to scrutiny.  


Technology, tax incentives and private investment work to strengthen the renewable energy sector's position in the free marketplace and power America's carbon-free energy policies forward. Consider that 72 percent of a wind turbine's value today is made in the United States, compared to 25 percent in 2005. Over the past few decades, wind energy in the United States has changed the economic and energy landscape with nearly 900 utility-scale wind projects on the nation's electricity grid and more than 550 wind-related manufacturing facilities.  


Wind farms and/or factories have cropped up in all 50 states, putting people to work in good-paying jobs, diversifying farm and ranch income with an organic, drought- and weed-resistant cash crop, revitalizing rural communities and creating pollution-free electricity for millions of homes and businesses across the country.

Under one estimate, if the United States reaches 20 percent of wind-generated electricity, carbon emissions by the electricity sector would fall by up to 25 percent. That's the equivalent of taking 140 million vehicles off the road. In fact, at 27.4 percent, Iowa leads the nation, powering the equivalent of 1.3 million homes - Colorado is not far behind, powering roughly a million homes.

Critics looking for additional proof that wind energy tax incentives make good policy and good politics need to consider that wind energy is good for consumers, constituents and taxpayers. Wind energy projects operate in 70 percent of congressional districts. They require no oil spill liability fund to clean up environmental disasters. The U.S. taxpayer doesn't have to pay for catastrophic insurance as with nuclear power.

But despite its successes in the last two decades, the still-emerging wind industry is working to rebound after setbacks from the uncertainty of expiring tax policy. It suffered 4,500 job losses in 2012 within its manufacturing sector as orders and investment dwindled. Investment dropped from $25 billion to $2 billion.

And this debate is not taking place within a vacuum. A failure to renew wind energy tax credits not only jeopardizes U.S. manufacturing and our pursuit of energy security, but it also threatens U.S. leadership in the global energy race. If Congress pulls the rug out from under wind energy firms, other places like China are more than willing to step into the breach.

The United States can't afford to pull the plug on wind energy tax incentives that foster responsible environmental stewardship, encourage entrepreneurs to innovate clean-energy technologies and investors to finance the job-creating infrastructure that delivers clean electricity to America's homes and businesses.

Grassley is a Republican from Iowa. Udall is a Democrat from Colorado. King is a Republican from Iowa. Loebsack is a Democrat from Iowa.


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