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Our History

The Iowa Environmental Council envisions a state that is a leader in addressing climate change and environmental justice, and in creating resilient communities that embody Iowans' shared values of respect for all people and the environment. 

Through education, advocacy, and coalition-building, we raise awareness, generate action, and create large-scale change. We work on federal, state, and local public policy issues to ensure a just, healthy environment and sustainable future for all Iowans.  

IEC holds the following core values:

  • Our greatest strength is our relationships, within our team and our diverse coalition.
  • ​Our work is informed by science, data, and stories.
  • We are a trusted voice, respected for our integrity and resourcefulness.
  • Sometimes we educate and lead; other times, we learn and follow.
  • We are inclusive.
  • We are non-partisan.
  • ​We listen to others. 

Our timeline:

1995 – A group of Iowans including environmentalists, natural resource advocates, business leaders and lawmakers found the Iowa Environmental Council.

1997– Pass a law requiring the closure or permitting of dangerous agricultural drainage wells that allow farm chemical and bacteria to contaminate groundwater.

1997– Develop Water Quality Action Plan for Iowa and hold a statewide conference to secure support for additional investment in water monitoring and cleanup of polluted waters.

1998– Co-found IOWATER, a statewide volunteer water monitoring program, now one of the best statewide volunteer water monitoring programs in the U.S.

1999– Secure $1 million increase in funding for water quality monitoring. Funding is now $3 million/year.

2000– Establish Environment First Fund, providing $35 million/year to fund environmental programs.

2002– Lead environmental coalition to pass new regulation of large livestock confinements to reduce negative impacts on water quality.

2003– Strengthen bacteria standards for recreational waters by extending protection to wadable streams.

2004– Form an alliance to set priorities and push for significant changes in the way Iowa implements the Clean Water Act (CWA).

2005– Establish a clean energy program.

2006– Pass new water quality standards to implement the “fishable/swimmable” protections of the federal Clean Water Act in Iowa.

2006– Appointed to serve on the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council to study the impacts of climate change and develop policy options.

2008– Water Quality Planning Taskforce develops a water resource management plan to address non-point source pollution, resulting in the formation of the Water Resource Coordinating Council.

2008– Appointed to multi-year workgroup with the Midwestern Governors Association to develop strategies and policies to develop renewable energy, energy efficiency and achieve carbon pollution reduction.

2008– Pass legislation to eliminate failing private septic system discharging untreated sewage into rivers and streams.

2008– Legislature extends energy efficiency requirements to municipal and cooperative utilities to set annual savings goals and offer efficiency programs.

2008– Iowa Legislature extends state building and energy codes to all new residential and commercial construction.

2009– Resolve a pending EPA lawsuit by working with DNR and other stakeholders to develop new chloride criteria for Iowa waters.

2009– Alliant Energy cancels its proposed 660 MW coal plant in Marshalltown. LS Power also cancels its proposed 600+ MW coal plant in Waterloo.

2009– Pass new law restricting winter application of liquid manure on cropland to prevent water pollution during the spring thaw.

2009– Iowa Utilities Board approves Alliant Energy’s incentive program to help customers install smaller-scale renewable energy technologies.

2009– Iowa Utilities Board approves five-year energy efficiency plans for MidAmerican and Alliant that include much higher savings goals and budgets.

2010– Establish new rules to protect high-quality waters from new sources of pollution.

2010– Iowa Department of Public Safety adopts new energy efficient building codes for residential and commercial construction.

2010– Iowa Utilities Board approves new interconnection rules that remove barriers and help more small-scale renewable energy projects get on the grid.

2011– Recommend most effective ways to target conservation practices to reduce nitrate and bacteria impairments in the Raccoon River Watershed.

2011– Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves new approach to developing transmission lines in the Midwest.

2011– Iowa Legislature extends the eligibility period for Iowa’s 476C wind energy production tax credit by three years.

2012– Iowa surpasses 5,000 MW of wind energy installed accounting for over 25% of all electricity generated in Iowa—among the highest of any state.

2012– Stop a bill that would have provided unfair advantages to new nuclear power in the Iowa legislature.

2012– Write model Small Wind Innovation Zone ordinance that benefits small wind development.

2012– Pass new solar energy tax credits to support the installation of solar energy systems by
homeowners and small businesses and removed barrier s to the implementation.

2012– Alliant agrees to convert a fleet of thousands of inefficient street lights to efficient LEDs.

2013– MidAmerican Energy announces it will not attempt to construct a new nuclear power plant in Iowa in favor of constructing 1,000 MW of new wind energy.

2013– Utilities in Iowa announce that over 1,000 MW of existing coal-fired power plants will stop burning coal.

2013-2014– Launch campaign to raise public awareness about nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in drinking in recreational waters.

2014– Release Real Potential: Ready Today: Solar Energy in Iowa, a publication about solar.

2014– Triple available funds for the Iowa solar tax incentive, make key improvements to the tax incentive program and improve implementation of the new law.

2014– Advance EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan with public comments and outreach to key

2014 – Iowa Supreme Court rules in favor of the Council’s position and intervention that Iowa law allows third-party power purchase agreements, an important financing option for renewable energy.

2014– Iowa Supreme Court sides with the Council in upholding antidegradation policies to protect Iowa waters.

2014– Improve siting for key transmission lines to enable more wind energy in Iowa.

2015– The Council celebrates its 20th anniversary.

2016– Issue a policy paper entitled, “Healthy Lands, Healthy Waters” that establishes a significant need for the state to adopt a comprehensive, coordinated approach to addressing the challenges faced by Iowa’s watersheds.

2016– Work in partnership with the Mississippi River Collaborative to release a report entitled, “Decades of Delay”.

2016– Provide direct support via testimony at the Iowa Utilities Board for two wind power projects.

2016– Work with other advocacy groups, solar businesses and supportive elected officials from both parties, to defeat a bill in the Iowa Legislature that would have removed important aspects of net-metering.

2016– Released a new report, Nitrate in Drinking Water: A Public Health Concern for All Iowans, that reviews findings of research conducted in Iowa, the U.S. and abroad that have found nitrate in drinking water associated with several birth defects, bladder cancer, and thyroid cancer.

2017– Iowa DNR terminated a proposed rule change that would weaken Iowa water quality laws after IEC and other groups voiced concerns about the changes.

2018– Susan Heathcote, Water Program Director, retires after 22 years at IEC.

2019– Released groundbreaking analysis, The Slow Reality of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, highlighting the slow pace of conservation implementation rates through the state's voluntary Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

2020– Celebrated its 25th anniversary with events and special activities throughout the year. 

2020– Successfully led a coalition to codify net-metering into law in Iowa.

2021– The Council set a goal for the state of Iowa to reach 100% clean power by 2035, taking action on this effort through the work of the 100% Iowa initiative.

We’ve made significant progress, but we still have a lot of work to do. The Council remains committed to realizing our founders’ vision and fulfilling its mission of creating a safe, healthy environment and sustainable future for Iowa.