Support Iowa's Environment to Keep Young Professionals
on Thursday, May 11, 2017
Written by Jordan Sabine, Drake University Senior and 2017 IEC Legislative Intern.
As my graduation from Drake University approaches in December, I face the decision of whether to stay in Iowa to live and work, or to move to another state to begin my life after college.
I’ve fallen in love with the city of Des Moines and all of Iowa. I’ve made great friends here and know that I could find employment, especially since Des Moines was ranked number four for Best Mid-Sized Cities for Making a Living by MoneyGeek.com and 10th on a list of Best Cities to Live and Work by RoberyHalf.com in 2016. Des Moines/West Des Moines was also rated in the 25 Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs by PropertyCausualty360.com. Des Moines and other cities in Iowa make it onto these ‘Top 25’ lists all the time; but while business may be booming, I must consider what Iowa’s environment will look like 10 or 25 years in the future.
Many of my young professional friends and I enjoy being outdoors and value clean water and renewable energy. We want to live in a state that invests in those resources and will be able to sustain our and our children’s recreational desires. We want trails to bike and run on, clean lakes and streams to canoe and swim in, and renewable energy to fuel our homes and businesses, saving us money.
Iowa has already made strides in the right direction on many of these issues; but to keep young professionals like me in Iowa, the progress must continue. Programs like the Enhance Iowa Fund and the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, which finance investments in state parks, trail restoration and creation, watershed protection, and soil and water conservation are supported by most Iowans and should be funded by the legislature. 81 percent of Iowans support the Trust Fund according to Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, yet the legislature has chosen to leave it unfunded.
While I value recreational waters, I also care about clean drinking water. The Iowa Legislature should address this issue immediately and fund programs, like those I’ve already mentioned and more, to ensure drinking water across the state is safe to consume without extensive nitrate filtration processes. The Legislature did not prioritize clean water in an effective way when attempting to break up the Des Moines Water Works. Measures must be taken both upstream and in the urban parts of the state to minimize runoff and pollution. The Des Moines Water Works removes over 75,000 pounds of nitrates from the Raccoon River alone every year, and dismantling it will not fix the nitrate problem.
My generation is also concerned about climate change, and transitioning to renewable energy is a great economic opportunity Iowa has already begun to take advantage of through harnessing wind energy across the state. Continued investment and encouragement of the renewable energy sector in the form of tax credits and incentives will give current and future homeowners (like me) the chance to save on energy expenses and help the planet by lessening dependence on dirty fuel sources. Iowa’s Energy Plan, published in 2016, acknowledges the importance of wind and solar energy, as well as biomass energy, to Iowa, but the legislature needs to continually fund and support these industries.
We can all do our part to secure a better future for Iowa’s environment and all who live here. One way is to join the Iowa Environmental Council. Throughout my internship, I have seen the dedicated staff work tirelessly to fight for clean water, renewable energy and conservation practices that will keep Iowa an attractive place to live for young people like me. Another way you can get involved is by attending the Council’s fourth annual Pro H2O: Thirsty for Change event on June 1, 2017 at the Science Center of Iowa. The evening will be dedicated to celebrating and supporting a shared vision for clean water and Iowa’s future, while also honoring those who have gone above and beyond for Iowa’s environment.
Young people like me, whether students at Drake University, Simpson College, University of Iowa or Iowa State University, are watching as the Legislature chooses what to invest in and the environmental policies Iowans choose to support; and I hope they choose to invest in our environment next session and beyond, because I love Iowa, and I’d like to stay here.
- clean energy
- iowa legislature
- nitrate pollution
- pro h2o
- water quality
- wind power