All posts by 1000 Friends of Iowa

Mapping City Climate Action

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In 2017, President Trump removed the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. In response, many local jurisdictions who often deal with the brunt of the weather related impacts of climate change stood up and declared that they were going to “stay in” the agreement.

1000 Friends of Iowa agrees and believes that we can have the greatest impact working locally for solutions that can add up to real impacts.

Analyses done by ARUP for the C40 Initiative concluded that cities are essential actors in reducing emissions and that the 758 US cities with populations of 50,000 or more can deliver about on third of the US Paris commitment. Cities can deliver emission reductions that are additive to those of nations and states, ARUP concludes, because they control land use, transportation systems, and the attributes of buildings.

They further conclude that there is a deadline. They conclude that cities have until 2020 to get on a pathway to achieving future deep emission reductions. In other words, city action is urgent but harder to get our hands around because it requires hundreds of individual policy and programmatic decisions. To succeed, we must be able to achieve change at scale. We need to work together to figure out how to do that.

About 150 of the 758 cities are in the Midwest. We already know that in general, the core city in each of the largest metro areas is taking some action – often with the help of nonprofits and foundations, such as, Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, Cleveland. The ARUP analysis tells us that this is not enough.

We know that we need more of the communities across Iowa and the Midwest to take action. While we work with local communities in Iowa, we wanted to do analysis by identifying the status of clean energy, climate work, and sustainability efforts in these cities and to develop a plan of action for spurring all to action.

Partnering with organizations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, 1000 Friends of Iowa just completed a comprehensive mapping project looking at whether or not cities with a population of 40,000 or more were currently addressing these issues and what they were doing if they were. In Iowa, there are 13 cities that met the criteria. Eleven of those cities participated in the mapping project.

Of the participating cities, five of them have completed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories and four have set GHG reduction goals. Three cities have established an energy plan, climate action plan or resiliency plan. Two other cities are in progress of developing a plan. Five Iowa Cities have energy efficiency goals and Nine of the eleven cities that responded are participating in a sustainability program.

From anecdotal data gathered, the two most important factors that seem to drive a cities success in their efforts to address climate change and become more sustainable were: 1. a supportive city council and Mayor and 2. a staff person who acted as the sustainability coordinator or director for the city. Click here to view an interactive map with the results and Click here to see the raw data results.

Talking Points to Oppose SF 2311

Oppose Senate File 2311

This bill undermines Iowa’s clean energy leadership by effectively end utility energy efficiency programs, allowing new charges on solar customers, and removing consumer protections and oversight. This bill will increase energy costs, threaten nearly 21,000 solar and energy efficiency jobs, reduce consumer choice, and increase reliance on fossil fuels.

 

Iowa has some of the lowest energy rates in the Midwest and the country while at the same time developing one of the strongest clean energy economies. This bill undermines many of the policies that have led to Iowa’s cost-effective clean energy leadership.

 

Major Issues with SF 2311

 

Deregulation Without Competition

  • Iowa electric and gas utilities are monopolies. Consumers have no choice in their provider for electric or gas service. This bill deregulate utilities without providing for any competition.
  • The bill decreases consumer choice even further. The bill could scale back or even eliminate the few consumer choices available today, including energy efficiency and solar.

 

Undermining Iowa’s Leadership and Economic Benefits on Clean Energy

  • Solar jobs are a fast-growing sector of the economy and are present all over the state. This bill threatens every solar job in the state, over 700 in 2016.
  • There are solar installations in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties with rural Iowa leading on solar.
  • There were over 20,000 direct jobs in the energy efficiency sector in Iowa in 2016.[i] These jobs are threatened as the bill threatens to eliminate energy efficiency programs.
  • In 2016, Iowa was ranked as the third least expensive state overall for energy prices.”[ii] Iowa’s long-standing energy efficiency programs have helped keep energy costs low in Iowa.
  • Utility efficiency programs generate between $2 and $3 in benefits for every $1 invested.

Shifting Costs and Risks to Consumers

  • Reduces needed oversight on all utilities, including the rural electric cooperatives that already have the highest rates and fewest options for customers to manage energy bills.
  • Rolls back energy efficiency, which is a very low-cost resource. Energy efficiency benefits everyone and helps keep utility rates low and stable for all customers. Rolling back energy efficiency will increase costs to customers in the long run.
  • Eliminates oversight on expensive equipment to control emissions at coal plants and replaces with voluntary, pre-approval for passing costs to customers.

 

Attack on Energy Efficiency

  • Makes programs entirely optional for all customers, allowing them to ‘opt in’ every five years.
  • Minimum participation is 10% of customers, meaning that efficiency programs could see a 90% reduction in budgets and participation and satisfy the bill’s requirements.
  • Adds a particular cost-effectiveness test (total resource cost test) that will scale back energy efficiency options and result in less savings.
  • Even with the opt in, puts arbitrary limits on how much utilities spend on energy efficiency (either 1.5% for gas or 2% for electric of a customer’s billing).
  • Reduces or eliminates IUB oversight on rural electric cooperatives energy efficiency.
  • Eliminates IUB reporting on efficiency to the General Assembly, reducing accountability.

 

Attack on Renewable Energy

  • The bills allow utilities to discriminate against solar customers and charge them separate and higher rates.
  • The bills could lead to massive increases in rates to solar customers effectively shutting down the solar industry in Iowa.
  • Exempts rural electric cooperatives from Iowa’s policy to encourage renewable energy (476.41).

 

Attack on Consumer Protection and Consumer Choice

  • Exempts electric coops from rules on customer deposits, meaning there would be no limits on the charges for new customers to get connected or re-connected.
  • Limits or could even eliminate customer options for adding solar or implementing energy efficiency in a home or business.
  • Removes or restricts IUB oversight on a wide range of critical issues, including energy efficiency, coal plant emissions controls, consumer protections, and rural electric coops and municipal utilities.

 

Bill Process

 

SSB 3093 was the original bill number. The bill was amended and passed the Senate Commerce Committee with an 8-7 vote (1 R, 6 Ds voted no, 8 Rs voted yes). After committee passage, the bill number was changed to SF 2311. This bill contains several sections that will roll back energy efficiency programs. Sec. 9 in particular of the bill will decimate the programs and savings.

 

Sec. 17 allows utilities to discriminate against solar customers. (The committee did amend the bill by removing the subsection in Sec. 15 on revenue neutral tariffs.) However, much of the bill was not changed, so concerns discussed above remain.

 

More amendments are expected during floor debate in the Senate, including an amendment to show efficiency costs on customers’ bills.

 

[1] Clean Energy Trust, Clean Jobs Midwest: Iowa (2017) at https://www.cleanjobsmidwest.com/state/iowa.

[1] Iowa Energy Plan (2016) at 4. Available at http://iowaenergyplan.org/.

[i] Clean Energy Trust, Clean Jobs Midwest: Iowa (2017) at https://www.cleanjobsmidwest.com/state/iowa.

[ii] Iowa Energy Plan (2016) at 4. Available at http://iowaenergyplan.org/.

These talking points were put together by our friends at the Iowa Environmental Council.

Help Save Energy Efficiency.

Updated:

Right  now, making it’s way through the Iowa State House is a horrible bill  – Senate File (SF) 2311 (formerly SSB 3093). The bill has passed out of committees in both houses and was passed out of the full senate.  The bill is now awaiting debate in the full house. This bill has sweeping changes that decimates energy efficiency programs, potentially losing over 80% of the current funds, it essentially deregulates utilities in Iowa, leaving all utility customers vulnerable to soaring prices and the whims of the utility companies, and it makes it easier for gas pipelines to be built in Iowa.

If enacted, Senate File (SF) 2311 (formerly SSB 3093), which is being championed by Iowa’s investor owned utilities, would:
  • Effectively deregulate Iowa’s energy utilities;
  • Slash energy efficiency programs, potentially by up to 80% or more;
  • Make it easier for gas pipelines to build in Iowa.
  • And though the bad solar provisions were removed, there is still an effort to put them back into the bill which if added back in, could essentially kill rooftop and community solar by allowing utility companies to discriminate against solar customers.
So what does that mean for you? It means:
This bill is bad for Iowans. Energy efficiency is a key factor that keeps utility rates low in Iowa. If passed,  utility rates will go up. Low income people will lose out on energy efficiency and weatherization programs  programs and utility companies can build unnecessary fossils fuel generation plants and charge all of their customers to foot the bill.
We could see a potential loss of over 20,000 jobs in the energy efficiency sectors and and a loss of over $200,000,000 that would have been savings for utility customers.
If you are asking what we can do about it, keep reading!

Talking points for the overall bill:  Click here.

Energy Efficiency Fact Sheet: Click here.

Another bad bill that is now making it’s way through the senate is SSB 3078. This bill proposes to eliminate all energy efficiency programs. It is on the Ways and Means subcommittee schedule for Monday, March 19 at 3:00 p.m. The subcommittee is made up of Senator Fenestra, Senator Hogg, and Senator R.Schmidt. Please contact all three of them and ask them to oppose SSB 3078.  Click here to find their contact info.

2017 Best Development Award Winners

1000 Friends of Iowa proudly announces eleven recipients as its Best Development Award winners of 2017. Five independent jurors from across the state selected projects that implement the efficient use of our resources to develop sustainable communities that provide a high quality of life.

The 2017 Best Development Award winners are listed below (category, winner, project, city, link). For more information about each project, click the link.

  • In the Innovative Leadership category, the City of Clive for the Walnut Creek and Clive Greenbelt initiatives in Clive <link>
  • In the Mixed Use category, Blackbird Investments for the Wilkins Building in Des Moines <link>
  • In the New Residential category, KCL Engineering for the Parkside Residential Development in Charles City <link>
  • In the Placemaking/Greenspace category, the City of Glidden for the Albert Kruger, Sr. Shelter in Glidden <link>
  • In the Renewable Energy category, St. John the Apostle Catholic Church and Red Lion Renewables for the Solar Array in Norwalk <link>
  • In the Renovated Civic category, the City of Sioux City for the Sioux City Promenade in Sioux City <link>
  • In the Renovated Commercial category, SingleSpeed Brewing Co. for the Wonder Bread Building in Waterloo <link>
  • Renovated Residential category, Downtown Leases and Lofts for the Kibbey Building in Marshalltown <link>
  • In the Stormwater Management category, City of Denison for the 14th Street Parking Lot in Denison <link>
  • In the Transportation/Complete Streets category, the City of Muscatine for the Kent Stein Park to Deep Lakes Park Trail in Muscatine <link>
  • In a special Jurors’ Choice category, the City of Dubuque for its long-term, big-vision cross-cutting activities. <link>

The press and public are invited to celebrate these “development heroes” at an Award Ceremony, to be held at the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, at 11:45 a.m.

Call for Bakken Oil Pipeline Construction Monitors

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**UPDATE July 19, 2016

The Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, which 1000 Friends of Iowa is a member, is looking for people to “adopt” a section of the pipeline route to watch DAPL’s construction and be the eyes and ears for justice.

To sign up to be a Pipeline monitor, just follow this link: Pipeline Monitors

Because it is crucial to protect our waters and support landowners who are trying to protect their land, we want to create a team of people along the pipeline route who can monitor their section for violations of the law.

For those who are willing to help monitor a section of the pipeline, you will:
  • Participate in a training call
  • Receive a short guidebook to the rules for either Iowa or South Dakota with all the information you need to do the monitoring
  • Monitor your segment of the pipeline when construction begins
  • Notify authorities if DAPL violates the law
  • Notify the Resistance Coalition with regular updates by posting pictures, videos, and written notes on a Facebook page
  • Work with the team to take action, especially around water crossings and on property owned by landowners who have resisted Dakota Access’ efforts to condemn their land.

We want to create a team of people across Iowa and South Dakota that can help defend our land and water.

If you’re willing to be a pipeline monitor, follow the link below and fill in your contact information. We’ll send you the call-in information for the training call and handbook.

To sign up as a monitor,  follow this link: Pipeline Monitors

 

**UPDATE April 12, 2016

The only thing preventing Dakota Access from beginning construction on the Bakken Pipeline is the Army Corps of Engineers permit.
With your help, we can make sure the Army Corps of Engineers denies the permit.

Take two simple actions!

  1. Sign our petition to tell the Army Corps to conduct a full environmental impact statement and to deny the permit! Just click here to sign the petition.
  2. Email Brent Cossette and Col. John Henderson at the Army Corps of Engineers and tell them a FULL and complete environmental impact statement is non-negotiable!
For talking points for your email, click here.

Currently the Army Corps of Engineers is only evaluating the project in a piecemeal fashion, rather than looking at the entire project.

This hazardous and unjust pipeline cannot be evaluated piece by piece. It is impossible for the Army Corps to grasp the true consequence and nature of this toxic project if they look at it through a narrowed lens.

Stay tuned for next steps.

Stopping the Bakken Pipeline

“Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.” Russell Baker

Join us Wednesday, December 16 for  the Iowa DNR’s public hearing on the proposed Bakken Pipeline.

Dakota Access, the company seeking approval to build the Bakken Pipeline, must obtain a permit from Iowa Department of Natural Resources to build its pipeline across Iowa’s public lands.

As part of its consideration of this permit, the DNR is holding a public hearing this Wednesday, Dec. 16, in Des Moines, in the auditorium of the Wallace State Office Building, 502 E. Ninth St., in Des Moines, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. 

That means we need a lot of you there to make sure the Iowa DNR hears us load and clear – “NO BAKKEN PIPELINE IN IOWA!”

Talking points  include:
  • The Threat to Iowa’s Soil and water. The proposed Bakken pipeline would represent an on going threat to Iowa’s precious natural resources, as countless crude oil pipeline accidents have proven. Just this January, the Bridger Pipeline poured between 40,000 and 50,000 gallons of Bakken crude into the pristine Yellowstone River.  In Iowa, the Bakken pipeline would run beneath virtually every major waterway in the state, including the Big Sioux, Des Moines, and Mississppi rivers.
  • The Threat to Iowa’s Economy. Current Iowa law would require Dakota access to provide a surety bond of just $250,000 to cover potential damages. In reality, that is just a drop in the bucket for actual clean up costs and would leave Iowa tax payers holding the bill.  Cleanup costs for just one  spill, that pumped one million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, have already cost over one BILLION dollars. And there is more clean up still to do. Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access, wrote, “We may incur substantial environmental costs and liabilities because of the underlying risk inherent to our operations.”
  • The Assault on Landowner Rights Through Eminent Domain Abuse. Dakota Access has formally asked the three-member Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to grant the company the power of eminent domain, which would give the company the power to force Iowa landowners to provide easements against their will. This would be an egregious abuse of eminent domain, which, by law, only can be granted when there is significant “public convenience and necessity.” However, all three members of the IUB have been appointed by Governor Branstad, whose re-election campaign received support from former Texas governor Rick Perry, now an Energy Transfer Partners’ board member.
  • The Threat to the World’s Climate. Every established scientific organization in the world has affirmed that the earth’s climate is rapidly changing and that human use of fossil fuels is the primary cause. According the former NASA climatologist, James Hansen, who was the first to address Congress on climate change nearly 30 years ago, 80% of fossil fuel reserves already discovered must remain in the ground if we are to avoid cataclysmic climate change.The Bakken pipeline would do just the opposite, facilitating the daily extraction of an additional 570,000 barrels of climate changing crude oil.

 

Let us know you’re coming!  Please RSVP by clicking here. 

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Sample Talking Points for the IUB hearing Nov 12, 2015:

The following basic talking points are here for your reference – but do share you story and thoughts regarding the proposed Bakken Pipeline in any way you see fit!

Eminent Domain and the Pipeline

  • Dakota Access wants to use eminent domain to force land owners to allow the pipeline to be built there.
  • No private, for profit corporation should have the ability to use eminent domain to take property from the rightful owners for their own personal gain, and for the sake of profits.
  • The Bakken pipeline has no public benefit for the state of Iowa. The oil and the profits will go out of state.

The effects on agriculture land have not been thoroughly investigated:

  • Iowa farmland and recreation areas will be damaged with the pipeline’s construction and when the pipeline leaks.
  • The oil flowing through the pipeline will generate heat that will affect freeze-thaw cycles, soil microbes, wildlife, and plants.
  • According to Dr. Tom Fenton from ISU, soil compaction may reduce yields for many years.
  • The Agriculture mitigation plan does not adequately protect and restore the 3 layers of soil – topsoil, subsoil, and parent material.  Mixing the layers will reduce soil fertility.

The pipeline provides little economic benefit to Iowa and to Iowans:

  • According to ISU economist Dave Swenson, this project would create far fewer jobs are expected than Dakota Access is promoting – less than 12 permanent full-time jobs.
  • There is no guarantee that most of the jobs will be going to Iowans.
  • We’re not against jobs. Jobs should move us into the 21st century and away from oil.
  • There is no guarantee that this oil will be used in the United States since Obama lifted the ban on exporting crude oil.
  • This is not a question of pipe versus rail. All business predictions suggest the industry will continue to transport oil through both pipe AND rail in order to quickly move their products.

Pipelines leak:

  • The state’s indemnity fund for cleaning up a spill is only $250,000 – barely enough to clean up the most minor spill. Recent oil spills have cost far more in clean-up:  $70 million (2013 Mayflower, AL), $1.2 billion (2010 Kalamazoo, MI)
  • This isn’t about bad welding or poor workmanship.  It is about a corrosive, volatile substance that can destroy acres of farmland, waterways and wildlife habitat when it leaks.
  • Oil and water do not mix – creating dangers to wildlife, recreation areas, and drinking water.

This pipeline will exacerbate climate change:

  • We already have the technology we need to invest in wind & solar, moving beyond Big Oil
  • We should invest in renewable energy–creating jobs without the environmental risk to future generations

The IUB needs to require Dakota Access to perform an environmental impact study:

  • Dakota Access hasn’t done adequate environmental studies and is not required to do so.
  • The IUB has denied requests to have an environmental impact statement prepared.  Dakota Access needs to be forced to do that study before they are given a permit.
  • It is doubtful that construction crews will be able to identify and detect threatened and endangered species and not destroy them.  That is why studies need to be done.
  • It is doubtful that construction crews will be able to identify and detect archaeological artifacts and not destroy them.  That is why studies need to be done.
  • Most of the major rivers in Iowa will be crossed  including the Missouri, Mississippi, North Raccoon, South Skunk; additionally, the Jordan Aquifer would be crossed, the water source for 300,000 Iowans.
  • The IUB is counting on DNR to take into consideration the risks to the natural areas.  However DNR is only looking at sovereign lands – 3 rivers and 1 wildlife area.  The IUB needs to ensure that lands not evaluated by the DNR are examined.
  • The IUB is counting on Army Corps to evaluate impacts on the waterways of the state.  However the Corps is only looking at 17 isolated sites. The IUB should mandate impacts to waterways are evaluated.
  • The IUB can’t rely on the DNR, Corps, Archaeologists to deal with environmental impacts because they have limited jurisdiction.  The IUB needs to step up to the plate and require an environmental impact study where the other agencies do not have jurisdiction.

More About the Pipeline

A Texas company is proposing a 343-mile underground pipeline to cut diagonally across 17 Iowa counties on its path from North Dakota to Illinois. Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners has proposed the pipeline will span four states for a total length of 1,134 miles carrying 570,000 barrels of crude oil each day from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, IL where the crude will be redistributed across the U.S.

Energy Transfer Partners has asked the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) for permission to build the underground pipeline in Iowa. Board approval would give the company access to eminent domain powers which would force landowners to sell their property if a sale agreement is not reached. A group opposing the project asked Governor Branstad to block the proposal; a request the Governor declined.

Economic development projects should be analyzed on what we have to lose in the long run as well as short-term, one time gains. One has to ask, who stands to benefit most from this pipeline? Not Iowans.

The Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition’s site for a wealth of resources on the issue. The coalition has also set up Facebook and Twitter accounts to keep the public informed of the very latest.

7 Best Practices for Smart Growth in Iowa

BDA 2014 Communities with compact, connected metro areas offer their residents longer, safer, healthier lives than cities with greater sprawl, according to a recent study. Smart Growth America’s Measuring Sprawl 2014 report outlines economic and social costs of sprawl. It also states that compactness has a strong direct relationship to upward economic mobility. With a mission focused on responsible land use, 1000 Friends of Iowa promotes ways to keep our urban areas fit while preserving Iowa’s farmland, open spaces and natural habitats. The nonprofit announced its 2014 Best Development Awards winners last month, showcasing projects that champion smart growth planning principles. How the winners achieved success offers some valuable insights. Below, recipients share practical advice that may help your next project.

1. Pursue the impossible “Who would have ever imagined that our town could do this?” is a common question voiced by West Union community members and former residents. With a population of 2,500, the northeastern Iowa town’s ambitious streetscape initiative is one of the most innovative, sustainable community demonstration projects in the country. In Des Moines, the Madison Flats apartment building is located on a former landfill site with major drainage issues. When the Neighborhood Development Corporation was originally looking at the location people “politely said we were crazy,” said executive director Glenn Lyons. The nonprofit’s priorities and resources like Iowa’s Brownfield/Grayfield Tax Credit Program enabled NDC to persevere. Noting that they dug up a fully buried dump truck, Lyons said, “We’re able to work in areas the private sector deems too risky, and provide a catalyst for getting them interested.” Dubuque’s Green Alley Program is retrofitting 240 alleys with permeable pavement to reduce storm water runoff by up to 80 percent. “We cannot ignore issues simply because they might appear to be too big,” said Deron Moehring of the City of Dubuque. Instead, the program applies a city administration mantra “plan your work and work your plan” to address matters head on, quantify the issue, and be broad-reaching when seeking funding options.

2. Invest in existing neighborhoods After a dilapidated building collapsed, the City of Slater was left with a clean up bill exceeding $120,000 and an empty lot to own. It opted for a proactive approach with a similar property. The city purchased 421 Main Street in order to access renovation resources such as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Brownfield Redevelopment Program and Derelict Building Program. Financial support for addressing asbestos, replacing the roof and completing structural renovations enabled the city to do basic restorations then resell the property to a couple who now has a home and business in the historic building. City of Slater’s Jennifer Davies said, “For someone starting a business, salvaging a building or constructing a new one is a serious expense they cannot take on. It is easier for us to sell a useable shell than an empty lot.”

3. Do the unexpected When David Barzen of Sterling Investments drove by a dilapidated house on Urbandale Avenue in Des Moines he didn’t see what everyone else saw. Instead of tearing it down, Barzen bought it to turn into a rental property. Rather than cutting corners or making quick fixes, he chose to do custom restoration work. Barzen said, “I have found the nicer qualities I put into a property, the nicer it’s taken care of by tenants.” He sacrifices short-term investment gain for taking satisfaction in a job well-done.

4. Get personal Woodbine participated in a study that called for “kitchen table conversations.” Woodbine Main Street’s Deb Specker said the result of gathering a mix of ages and backgrounds in a comfortable setting was “a real list of priorities drawn up by real citizens, and a tremendous groundswell of support followed.” In Stanton, graduates of the local school are included in communications about the town’s new Viking Center and how it serves the community. Mickey Anderson of Stanton Friends gratefully acknowledged that “funding from graduates coast to coast helped make the project become a reality.”

5. Be shovel ready Dubuque learned readiness gives projects a helpful edge. “Many new programs are looking for ‘shovel ready’ projects because they want to effect change in short order,” said Deron Moehring, a civil engineer for the city’s Green Alley Program. “Dubuque has found that if you are ready, the funding programs will come.” The Stanton community experienced similar findings with its Viking Center project. Despite the financial crises in 2008, Mickey Anderson said, “We kept going because we knew we’d be one of the few ready when the economy bounced back.” Perseverance and preparation empowered the town of less than 700 residents build a multi-use community center that now boasts 200 members and 500 end users.

6. Respect the future Foreseeing a time when homes are held accountable for the resources they use, Chaden Halfhill of Indigo Dawn and Silent Rivers Design + Build renovated a home in Des Moines’ historic Sherman Hill neighborhood to be a replicable model. He found ways for historical charm, modern conveniences and sustainable building aspects to coexist. “This is a small house that lives large,” Halfhill said. “We traded square footage for quality, and demonstrated that comfort does not have to be compromised.”

7. Communicate, communicate communicate. Ambitious plans often involve private-public partnerships. Deb Specker of Woodbine said, “Partnerships are most effective if everyone has all the information.” Furthermore, she suggests taking extra effort to provide background information and regular updates to new collaborators. “It’s rather time-consuming work, but absolutely necessary,” she said.

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The Best Development Awards are selected from a pool of applications each year and judged by an independent group of jurors.  The 2014 jurors included Ryan Peterson of Impact7G, Iowa State University graduate student Kristen Greteman, and City of Ankeny Community Development Director John Peterson.  Plaques commemorating each 2014 Best Development Awards recipient will be presented to the winners individually.

1000 Friends of Iowa, founded in 1998, is a statewide nonprofit organization focused on land use education.  Its mission is to unite Iowans in efforts to protect farmland and natural areas, revitalize neighborhoods, towns and cities, and improve quality of life for future generations.

Additional details about each winning project and 1000 Friends of Iowa’s smart growth priorities can be found at www.1000FriendsofIowa.org.

Gas Tax Bill – Passed

The gas tax bill passed through the legislature on February 25.  The Senate File 257 passed with 28 votes to 21.  The House took the bill and voted 53 for and 46 against.

Visit Bleeding Heartland’s website at http://www.bleedingheartland.com/diary/7404/iowa-senate-house-approve-gas-tax-increase for the roll call list.

Governor Branstad didn’t wait until July 1 to sign the law but signed it the same day.  The new 10 cent gas tax will become effective as soon as Sunday, March 1st.

It is important to hold legislators accountable to the Fix-It-First initiative.  Existing structures and fixtures need to be fixed before constructing or installing new ones.

 

Ask your legislator to add Fix-It First language to any gas tax increase!

Legislative proposals to increase road funding through raising the gas tax, SF 257 and HF 251, are being debated.

Many who support raising the gas tax cite our crumbling roads and structurally deficient bridges, but can Iowans be confident with the existing system that new road money will be spent on fixing roads and bridges?

Regardless of how Iowa legislators approach road funding, they should adopt “fix-it first” language to ensure any new money goes toward repairing existing roads and bridges FIRST, rather than funding new roads or adding lanes to existing roads.

A Fix-It-First strategy prioritizes maintenance and upgrades of existing structures and facilities before constructing or installing new infrastructure.

A Fix-It-First strategy maximizes the value of past investments, minimizes the use of state funds on new projects, stretches limited resources and reinvest in existing communities.

Please ask your legislator to add Fix-It-First language to any bill asking for an increase in gas tax. Iowans need assurance their gas tax dollars will actually go to fixing our state’s decaying infrastructure FIRST before adding additional lanes to existing roads and building new highways.

Fix it first

2015 Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day at the Capitol

1000 Friends was pleased to attend the 2015 Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day at the Capitol on February 17. The annual event is co-sponsored by the Iowa Environmental Council and the Iowa REAP Alliance. Their hard work and planning brings people from across the state together to talk with legislators about the importance of protecting Iowa’s natural resources. 1000 Friends was one of the 35 organizations, and more than 250 people to attend.

Iowans showed their support for programs and policies that protect Iowa’s natural resources, and spoke with legislators about the need to commit long-term, sustainable funding to expand conservation and water quality initiatives in the state. Visit Iowa Environmental Council’s website to read more about the event and for additional images!

Smart Growth America Best 2014 Complete Streets Policies

Each year, the Best Complete Streets Policies report recognizes the exceptional work of communities and promotes solutions others could replicate in their own communities. Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition announced the Best 2014 Complete Streets Policies and released the full report yesterday.  Take a moment to read through the report, and recognize the hard work of these communities.