Environmental & Natural Resource Advocates Descend on Capitol
by EMILY HOLLEY on Thursday, April 6, 2017
The Iowa Capitol Rotunda was filled with advocates for Iowa’s environment and natural resources last Wednesday, March 29 during Environmental Lobby and REAP Day. Over 200 advocates and 26 exhibitors representing environmental issues, outdoor groups, public health and sustainable agriculture attended the event. Advocates and exhibitors came together to spend the morning lobbying elected officials, asking that they support legislation critical to the future of Iowa’s water quality, renewable energy progress and conservation.
The morning began with a citizen advocate training led by Kerri Johannsen, Iowa Environmental Council’s Manager of Government Affairs with Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell making a guest appearance. The training explained how important it is for the legislature to address Iowa’s water quality problems with solutions that include sustainable and accountable funding, and reviewed the current bills that meet those crucial requirements. The renewable energy tax credits, under which solar and wind energy have flourished in Iowa and that are due to expire without action from the legislature were also discussed. The training ended with tips on how to approach and speak with legislators.
The Council presented a short, but motivating program designed to demonstrate the power of bi-partisan and urban-rural cooperation when it comes to Iowa’s natural resources and environment. Rep. Kevin Koester (R-Ankeny) expressed pride over Iowa’s renewable energy progress, noting the benefits renewables bring to state and local economies. Jeneane Moody, Executive Director of the Iowa Public Health Association, spoke about the symbiotic relationship between the environment and the health of Iowans. She emphasized the importance of protecting the right to clean, safe and affordable drinking water as she cautioned about the pollutants found in water. Joe McGovern, President of Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, praised the two decades of success the REAP program has had and stressed the need for continued funding. He also spoke about the current bills to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. The final speaker, Sen. Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines), spoke about the importance of sustainable funding and measurable goals to address Iowa’s water quality issues.
Legislators from both parties and both chambers met with advocates, viewed exhibits and answered questions. As the Lobby Day attendees met with elected officials throughout the Capitol, advocates around the state sent emails, tweets and Facebook posts and messages to their legislators, further contributing to the event’s success.
“Our 2017 Lobby Day was a success in publicly showing elected officials the broad and statewide support for clean water and clean energy,” said Ralph Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Iowa Environmental Council. When explaining the importance of communication with legislators, Rosenberg strongly stated that, “the contact with our public officials should be a year-round, sustainable effort. The impact on public officials increases with each contact. It really is a cumulative impact. Thank you to those who showed up. Thank you to those who attend forums. Thank you to the hundreds who have used our action alert on behalf of a sustainable future for Iowa.”
Check out photos from our 2017 Lobby Day on our Facebook page.
Thanks to our 2017 Exhibitors:
1000 Friends of Iowa, Blank Park Zoo, Citizens Climate Lobby, Citizens for a Healthy Iowa, County Conservation System, Des Moines Water Works, Friends of Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Heritage Land Stewards, Impact7G, Inc., Iowa Environmental Council, Iowa Environmental Health Association, Iowa Farmers Union, Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Iowa REAP Alliance, Iowa Rivers Revival, Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWILL), Iowa Woodland Owners Association, Iowa Chapter of the Wildlife Society, Izaak Walton League, Lake Macbride Conservancy, Prudenterra, Raccoon River Watershed Association, State Hygienic Laboratory, Trees Forever, Urban Ambassadors.