365 Days and Counting: One year ago today (January 29, 2020), Illinois Governor Pritzker announced at his State of the State Address that he was committed to passing community-driven clean energy legislation that would create good jobs and protect our planet. Three hundred sixty-five days later, Governor Pritzker has yet to support the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) or propose any comprehensive climate legislation. Despite recent federal commitments for climate action, we know that state-led policies will be important in shaping federal action.
Prairie Rivers Network remains committed in 2021 to our partnership with the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition to deliver just and equitable clean energy legislation in Illinois, and we'll need your support! Join this organization to learn more about actions you can take to help us fight for Illinois' clean energy future. Find out more here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Miller, Iowa’s Democratic Attorney General, to stand with Big Oil on DAPL suit. While praising the Court’s ruling, anti-DAPL group blasts Iowa AG’s role.
Des Moines, Iowa — In a ruling issued today by the US Court of Appeals, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a partial victory after a long court battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The Court required the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which has significant ramifications for the future of the pipeline. However, the Court declined to shut down the pipeline while that EIS is in progress, making the ruling a partial victory for the Tribe and its allies.
Among those lining up on either side of the case, 30 Attorneys General weighed in. Eighteen supported the Tribe (sixteen states, plus Guam and Washington, DC). Twelve supported the pipeline company. The lone Democratic Attorney General supporting DAPL was Iowa’s Tom Miller.
“We could not be more disappointed in Attorney General Tom Miller,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “In siding with Big Oil against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Miller also stood against the many Iowa farmers and landowners forced to fight DAPL as their land was stolen through eminent domain. Miller also stood against the many Iowans working to address the climate crisis. If the pipeline leaks or breaks, we’ll remember that Miller stood against protecting Iowa’s water, too.” Miller is the longest-serving attorney general in US history, having held the office for 38 years.
Referencing a press release Bold Iowa sent out last week about statements President Biden made in opposition to DAPL in 2019, Fallon added, “While we hope for a favorable outcome from the EIS, it’s important for President Biden to keep his word and shut down the flow of oil now, especially as Dakota Access pushes to double the flow of oil. Doubling the flow of oil might double Dakota Access’ profits, but it also doubles the risk to our climate and water.”
Bold Iowa was founded in 2015 in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline to build rural-urban coalitions to (1) Fight climate change; (2) Prevent the abuse of eminent domain; (3) Protect Iowa’s soil, air, and water; (4) Defend the rights of farmers, landowners, and Indigenous communities; and (5) Promote non-industrial renewable energy.
This year the Environmental Forum is focusing on a conservation topic each month, selecting from varied national or international themes. We will be providing a description of the theme each month, with specific action steps to work on this issue at home or in our community. For example, January’s theme was National Bird Day, and February’s will be National Wetlands Day. You will learn a great deal in 2021 about these various topics! If any members are aware of local organizations or speakers who could share additional information about these celebration topics, please forward those names to our Forum.
Solar Receives Cold Shoulder from Scott County Planning and Zoning Commission
The Scott County’s Planning and Zoning Commission had a somewhat negative response to the initial discussion of solar farms at their recent meeting. However, they did indicate a willingness to gather more input. While there may be some legitimate concerns about solar farms, I think there are also some misconceptions.
Solar is a cheaper energy source than fossil fuels and releases no atmospheric emissions. It can offer continuous energy when combined with wind and hydro-electric, and there are developments in storage battery systems. Many farms combine solar arrays with native prairie that supports endangered pollinator species, and rebuilds soil naturally. When built on less-productive land, or land prone to drought, it can also provide farmers with a more reliable source of income.
Solar requires a high up-front investment, but there are tax incentives, and minimal maintenance for panels that are guaranteed for 20-25 years. Renewable energy is also the fastest growing job sector, nationwide—plus these are good-paying jobs. Building solar installations can be good for the local economy.
Scott County residents can strongly encourage their commissioners to gather more input and look at how this could benefit local farmers and the community. You can also attend meetings virtually. Call 563-326-8632 by noon of the meeting date to verify meeting time and location.
Celebrate World Wetlands Day - Action Alert Tuesday, February 2nd
World Wetlands Day is on February 2nd. Celebrate in one of the ways mentioned above! The Environmental Forum has chosen the month of February to advocate for the protection of wetlands. They are natural habitats for many plants and animals and play an important role in protecting planet earth.
The Environmental Forum is highlighting one or more conservation holidays each month in 2021. January 5th is National Bird Day, so we will focus on our aviary friends this month. Nearly 3 billion adult breeding birds have been lost since 1970 due to habitat loss and degradation, pesticides, pollution, and climate change. We also lose birds to neighborhood and feral cats, power lines and windows. To date we have lost about one third of forest birds and on half of grassland birds. Thirteen percent of bird species are threatened with extinction.
How can you help protect birds?
Make your windows safer by installing screens and reducing reflections.
Keep your cats indoors.
Reduce turf grasses and plant native plants to increase food sources and shelter.
Encourage your cities to plant more trees, especially in lower income areas that may have less green space.
January Green Drinks via Zoom Tuesday, January 5th at 5:00 pm
Join us at the first Green Drinks of 2021 on Tuesday, January 5th from 5 to 7 pm. Our speaker is Ed Fallon, Director of Bold Iowa.
In February we will hear from the Illinois Citizens Utility Board about energy issues in Illinois, and in March we are scheduled to learn about urban, sustainable landscaping from Kathy Brynes from Birds and Bees Urban Farm in Des Moines.