Environment

Recent Stories

Iowa Counties Stick To Home To Win Fights Over Frac Sand Mining

An entrance on the west end of a Pattison Sand Company mine in rural Clayton County, Iowa, near the small town of Clayton, on June 24, 2014. Pattison, which produces industrial sand for the natural gas and oil industries, has about 35 acres of underground mine and 300 acres of above ground for plant operations, shipping and storage, ponding and drying, maintenance, a fabrication shop, reclamation areas and an open pit mine.

A group of northeast Iowans effectively is keeping large frac sand mine companies from mining silica-rich sand in their county by building a consortium that set aside politics and focused on dealing with the matter locally, instead of with state intervention. Continue Reading →

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Bioengineers Hope Turning Garbage Into Gas Opens A Green Frontier in Iowa, Midwest

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The thought of turning your dinner table leftovers, old cardboard boxes and even dirty diapers into fuel for your car might sound ambitious, or even absurd. But scientists, bioengineers and profit-minded businesspeople say they can do it. Continue Reading →

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Climate Change Threatens U.S. Food Security; Crop Insurance Poised To Remain Hot Topic

Soybean harvest just north of Mansfield, Ill., in early October 2013. The National Climate Assessment, released earlier in May, outlined how climate change will affect the $330 billion a year agriculture industry.

Federal crop insurance programs may serve even greater roles when it comes to farmers’ risk management plans, in light of a recent government report on global warming, industry officials say. Continue Reading →

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Fairwarning.org Report: Stunning Loss for Lead Paint Makers in California Lawsuit Includes ConAgra

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A California state court ruling against the lead paint industry broke the industry’s perfect record of defending suits by public agencies seeking to extract money for removal of flaking lead paint from older homes and apartments. Omaha-based ConAgra Grocery Products Co. is one of three defendants in the case, which resulted in a huge ruling involving cash. Continue Reading →

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American Chemistry Council Targets States, Including Iowa, In Toxic Reform Battles

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A new Center for Public Integrity report details a vigorous campaign by a chemical production industry that is in full gear to smother toxics reform bills filed in states across the country, Iowa included. Continue Reading →

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Wind Producers Seek Equal Treatment in Fight for Tax Credits

A truck hauls a wind tower blade on Interstate 80 west of Davenport, Iowa, in early June 2013.

Wind producers in Iowa say they want a level playing field when it comes to tax breaks.

They would go so far as to push for cutting tax breaks for other energy producers, like oil and gas. The current tax break wind production gets ends Dec. 31. Continue Reading →

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Inspections Reveal Problems with Iowa’s Flood-Control Levees But Maintenance Lags

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Broad federal requirements are allowing many levees to fall through the cracks in maintenance and leave the reliability of others unknown, an IowaWatch investigation revealed. Levees that are inspected generally rate low, but repairs aren't always made. Continue Reading →

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Nanotechnology: Harmful or benign? An Investigative Reporting Workshop Report

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Summary: Although questions abound about the impact of nanoparticles on the environment and the human body, such particles have ushered in breakthroughs in medicine, agriculture and electronics, fueling a huge industry. Nanomaterials are now either produced or used by many of the nation’s largest businesses to make a wide range of products or processes, including toys, textiles, sunscreens, computer screens and tennis rackets. The industries say don't regulate us, but the EPA continues to study the issue. Nanotechnology is a booming industry. The manipulation of tiny, nanoscale particles has created breakthroughs in medicine, agriculture, electronics and virtually every other sector of commerce. Continue Reading →

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Large Livestock Farms Spread Across Iowa, Threatening Waterways

A cattle feedlot outside Anamosa, Iowa, on Friday, May 17.

A major environmental threat has emerged as factory farms take over more and more of the nation’s livestock production: Pollution from the waste produced by the immense crush of animals. Iowa has more of the massive livestock feeding lots, known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, than any other state and has come under fire for lax regulations.
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