116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Outside groups threatening Iowa landowner rights
Jun. 29, 2021 8:57 am
Guest Column | Ray Gaesser
Iowa’s early diversification of our energy portfolio has kept energy rates below the national average and provided new revenue for Iowa communities. This success is now under attack by outside forces.
Iowa is a national leader in renewable energy thanks to early vision by leaders like Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley. However, this leadership has made our state a target for national efforts to kill clean energy development.
Under the guise of local messengers, we have seen the same opposition messaging across the state and country, and the same misinformation spreading online. Regardless of whether it is wind or solar, the underlying opposition playbook is the same. Here in Linn County, propaganda is being distributed by Citizens for Responsible Solar, a dark-money organization based in Virginia.
These anti-renewable energy organizations have appeared in Worth and Winnebago Counties, Adams County (my home county), Madison County, and more. The groups are operating from the same playbook featuring shared materials and draft petitions from national sources that originate thousands of miles from Iowa.
Not by coincidence, these groups propose the same type of moratorium on clean energy projects (wind or solar) for their counties. It is important to understand these moratorium discussions are not being held in good faith. Their mission is to kill new development, not to help develop common-sense ordinances.
Linn County already has comprehensive zoning policies and development requirements, including the adoption of an updated Renewable Energy Ordinance in late 2020, to ensure the safety of citizens and foster an environment for economic development.
As Chair of the Iowa Conservative Energy Forum (ICEF) and a farmer myself, I hope to be a common-sense voice to make sure we are looking out for Iowa landowners before national interest groups. I caution colleagues and friends in rural Iowa to understand efforts to ban renewable energy development by organizations claiming to protect home rule, are in fact banning the rights closest to your home — your land rights.
Our goal at ICEF is to be an ally of landowners who look to find common ground, and to provide facts and figures free of online hysteria. We need to fight back against organizations and their local messengers that promote a national agenda claiming to protect property rights. In reality, these groups are effectively creating eminent domain policies by not enabling landowners to make their own decisions on their own land.
Solar is an important cash crop for farmers, providing consistent revenue that helps hedge against fluctuating commodity prices. We hope Linn County can keep landowners in the driver’s seat and preserve their freedom to choose. Through voluntary easements, Iowa farmers — not government regulators — have paved the way toward Iowa’s renewable energy future for decades.
Clean energy benefits of extend beyond the landowner. From construction jobs boosting local economies to property tax revenues for schools and infrastructure projects, renewable energy will help Linn County achieve its lofty environmental goals.
I encourage county leaders to analyze all sides of the conversation, and to research who is truly behind the anti-solar propaganda.
The wind and sun are free resources that can power our electric needs — not fossil fuels. Renewable energy is an investment in Iowa’s future, creating opportunities for generations to come. Renewable energy makes us energy-independent and not reliant on imported energy sources from out of state, which also saves Iowans money. Quite simply, it makes financial sense and helps our environment too.
We must continue to harness the power of the sun to ensure Iowans and our rural communities will thrive for generations to come.
Ray Gaesser chairs the Iowa Conservative Energy Forum.
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