Who we are
The Iowa Environmental Council is an alliance of diverse organizations and individuals working together to protect Iowa's natural environment.
Our Mission: A safe, healthy environment and sustainable future for Iowa.
Our Vision for Iowa: A state where waters run clean, soil stays on the land, the air is clear, flora and fauna are diverse, and people are proud to call Iowa home.
Our Vision for the Iowa Environmental Council: Giving Iowans a voice on environmental issues, protecting Iowa's natural resources, and providing a safe and healthy environment for all Iowans.
Our Action: The Iowa Environmental Council actively works in public policy to provide a safe, healthy environment for all Iowans. We focus on public education and coalition building to give Iowans a voice.
The Iowa Environmental Council formed in 1995 when a group of lawmakers, business leaders, and environmentalists came together with one basic idea: We all have a strong interest in the environment; unified as a coalition, we can exert greater influence. The organization’s first major success came in 1997 with legislation requiring the closure of agricultural drainage wells that contaminate groundwater.
To protect Iowa’s rivers and streams, our first step was to gather credible information on their current status. In 1998, the Council helped found the IOWATER volunteer water monitoring program, and in 1999 we helped secure a major appropriation to establish the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ water monitoring program, which continues today.
In just the last decade, we have advanced a series of water quality standards that now protect thousands of miles of rivers and streams from excessive bacteria and pollution harmful to aquatic life and human health. The most recent success was the adoption of antidegradation rules to protect Iowa’s most outstanding lakes and streams from further pollution.
The Council, in cooperation with agricultural interests, passed legislation to increase the distance between livestock operations and waterways and reduce the winter application of manure on cropland.
We were strong supporters of creating the Environment First Fund and the constitutionally protected trust fund for conservation and outdoor recreation (passed by 63% of voting Iowans) in 2010. When fully funded, the trust fund will provide sustainable resources for recreational trails and habitat protection, among other benefits.
The Council successfully advocated for renewable energy development at both the regulatory and legislative levels. In 2005, we helped pass a small-producer tax credit to increase the number of wind energy projects in Iowa. In 2010, we worked to streamline requirements for small-scale wind and solar projects to connect to the electric grid. The Council co-wrote model legislation encouraging communities to set wind-positive rules. Most recently, we successfully advocated for new tax credits to reduce the up-front cost of solar installations.
With its unmet potential, energy efficiency remains a Council priority. In 2008, we successfully expanded the requirement for Iowa’s largest electric utilities to set energy efficiency goals to require submission of efficiency plans by municipal and cooperative utilities. The Council reviews and seeks to strengthen these plans on an ongoing basis. We also successfully advocated for new energy efficiency building codes for all residential and commercial construction.