116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
We’ve made another lap around the sun and reached Earth Day 2022. It provides us with a moment to take stock of our environment, actions being taken to halt or repair the damage we’ve made and assess what massive challenges still stand before us.
Locally, some good things are happening.
Cedar Rapids and Iowa City leaders have each approved aggressive climate action plans aimed at reducing the communities’ contribution to carbon emissions warming the planet.
Cedar Rapids has approved an ambitious plan to restore the city’s tree canopy, swept away by the August 2020 derecho. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and proved shade that reduces electricity use during warm weather months.
Of course there are things all of can do. We can pick up the litter that’s been blown all around during our unusually windy spring. In Cedar Rapids, the city manager’s “1-bag Challenge” urges residents to each fill up one bag of litter. We can plant trees. Consider our energy usage, our appliances and any other steps to use less power still produced to a large extent by fossil fuels.
But the higher we look up our chain of government, the more disappointing this Earth Day becomes.
Republicans who control state government are not considering any new, meaningful efforts to clean up the state’s dirty waters. To illustrate the sad state of environment protection in Iowa, regulators have turned back efforts to stop an 11,000-head cattle feedlot near one of Iowa’s most pristine trout streams. Meanwhile, calls to reform old, ineffective regulations have run into a political brick wall.
Ethanol producers and their political allies are pitching carbon pipeline projects that would make it easier to market ethanol as a green, climate-friendly fuel. But the pipelines’ climate impacts are questionable. Corn production polluting waterways will remain in high gear. And landowners may have portions of their property taken for the pipeline projects through eminent domain proceedings.
In Washington, D.C., President Joe Biden’s climate agenda has been halted by political divisions and now sits on the back burner as high gasoline prices and the war in Ukraine have returned the spotlight to increasing supplies of oil and gas. Congressional Republicans have cynically sought to blame higher energy prices on moves to control climate change and its catastrophic consequences. The warnings from scientists of the high cost of inaction keep coming.
So we can grab a shovel, a spade and some trash bags to make a difference in our neighborhood and community. But we also must think about what progress we can make in Iowa and nationally during our next trip around the sun. The tool for that jobs is a ballot.
(319) 398-8262; email@example.com