Earth Day Action: Rally against coal pollution in Iowa

posted by Marshall James on Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Earth Day rally attendeesMonday April 22nd was Earth Day and to celebrate, Iowans of diverse faiths rallied in Des Moines to demand a clean energy future.

Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, IEC member organization and founding partner of the Clean Up MidAm coalition, organized the event, which began with speeches given at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the rain garden. Speakers included faith leaders and representatives of coalition organizations, with a focus on the links between personal faith and the commitment to the broader environmental struggle.

Josh Mandelbaum of ELPC speaking, Irene Demaris of Iowa IPL listening

Central to the event was a table-turning art piece, made in reference to the biblical story of Jesus expelling merchants from the Second Temple by purportedly overturning their tables, a symbolic act of righteous indignation and a call for change to the profit-focused and material status quo. 

Deaconess Irene Demaris of Iowa IPL related the story of the cleansing of the temple as organizers with Interfaith Power & Light and IEC presented a table displaying a polluted landscape dominated by a MidAmerican coal plant. When the time came, they flipped the table over to reveal a restored green landscape with solar panels and wind turbines.

art piece depicting a polluted landscape

Green side of the table turn

Kids surround table following the flip

Deaconess Demaris then related how it was time for a change at MidAmerican, when the health and stewardship of creation must take precedent over the reckless profit-seeking which is destroying it.

Marching in downtown Des Moines

The rally goers then marched to MidAmerican Energy's headquarters in downtown Des Moines to deliver a letter demanding a meeting with the energy monopoly to discuss the path of coal plan retirement. Chants rang out in the streets as a liturgy was read by Tim Gossert of Iowa IPL.

This event continues the goal of the Clean Up MidAm coalition to pressure the corporation to put people and the planet over their profits. Next month, Clean Up MidAm is going on the road to Omaha, NE to once again rally at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting (Berkshire owns MidAmerican Energy.) Last year, Clean Up MidAm made national headlines when student member Hannah Hayes directly questioned Warren Buffett about his continued investment in fossil fuels.

Buses from Des Moines and Sioux City, as well as food, signs, and shirts, are being provided for attendees of the rally. Register for the Rally today to secure your spot on the bus! You can also follow along with the Clean Up MidAm campaign by following on social and signing up on the Clean Up MidAm website at

  1. carbon pollution
  2. clean energy
  3. climate change
  4. coal
  5. environmental justice
  6. public health
  7. solar power
  8. wind power

About The Author

Marshall James joined the Iowa Environmental Council in 2023 after more than a decade spent working in television and film production. Before joining IEC, he organized with several environmental organizations, such as Food & Water Watch and the Sunrise Movement. Marshall holds B.A.s in Journa ... read more