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Iowa, and IEC, celebrates passage of historic infrastructure bill

This month, the United States Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that will provide federal funding for crucial infrastructure projects, including energy infrastructure, drinking and wastewater systems, and transit systems.  

The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote of 228-206 earier this month; the Senate had approved the bill in August in a 69-30 vote. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative Cindy Axne voted in support of the legislation. President Biden signed the bill into law on November 15. 

The legislation marks a historic investment in infrastructure, with $550 billion in spending on transportation, energy, and water. It will provide resources for programs that get funding into the hands of local communities. Key highlights include:

• $7.5 billion for building a nationwide network of EV chargers across the country in the next 10 years;
• $5 billion for lower-emission and electric school buses;
• $55 billion for clean water projects, such as removing lead from drinking water and dealing with contamination;
• $50 billion for improving water infrastructure resiliency;
• $65 billion for upgraded energy transmission systems;
• $7 billion to improve the supply chain for batteries (such as those for storage or EVs);
• policy changes to ease the process of constructing power lines to improve the nation's energy grid;

Understanding the potential this bill offered Iowans in every community, the Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) encouraged supporters to advocate for passage of infrastructure legislation to improve climate resiliency. Nearly 300 supporters sent almost 500 messages to the Iowa congressional delegation. IEC also hosted a virtual Iowa Climate Resiliency Forum with Representative Axne on September first to discuss how Congress would address some of the most pressing environmental and equity issues facing our state.  

With it's passage, Iowans will see billions of dollars in funding to address critical road and bridge repairs, water infrastructure improvements, public transportation investments, and much more. 

"IEC members can be proud of the influence they had in getting Iowa’s congressional delegation to support historic investments in infrastructure," said Brian Campbell, IEC Executive Director. "We also look forward to seeing movement on the Build Back Better legislation, which includes additional provisions for water, energy, and climate investments."

Without losing momentum, the House passed the Build Back Better Act on November 19. That legislation includes myriad social safety net policies, and provides aggressive funding for programs and policies to address climate change. It is expected the Senate will take up the legislation in December. 

Iowa Energy News 

Bright Ideas 2021

Last week more than a hundred Iowans from across the state gathered in person and online for a celebration and discussion of clean energy in Iowa. We celebrated three award winners, then welcomed Dr. Destenie Nock of Carnegie Mellon University for an interactive presentation on equity in the clean energy transition. Her inviting presentation style and informative content received rave reviews from both live and virtual attendees. The full program is now available to view on IEC's YouTube channel. (Note - the program begins 30 mins. into the recording.) 


Understanding Energy Burden in Small-Town Iowa

Clayton County in Northeast Iowa is rural with a population of 17,600. Iowans’ average energy burden rate is 3%, while the Clayton County residential average is two ticks higher at 5%. However, this doesn’t reflect the truly oppressive picture of Clayton County’s low-income earners.

At a percentage of income, the poorest among us pay the most for their energy, meaning for many rural Iowans, utility bills are burdensome.

In this article, Joleen Jansen of the Clayton County Energy District explains what energy burden is, how it affects rural Iowans, and how Clean Energy Districts can help. 

Voices Of 100%: Des Moines' Clean Electricity Around The Clock

Though it’s insulated from sea level rise, Iowa faces many dangerous climate change impacts — which in turn threaten the nation’s food supply. Fortunately, the state is rich in renewable energy potential and eager advocates who hope to harness it.

For this episode of CleanTechnica's Voices of 100% series of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, host John Farrell talks with Kari Carney of 1000 Friends of Iowa and Josh Mandelbaum of the Des Moines City Council about Des Moines’ round-the-clock clean electricity resolution, how it differs from traditional clean energy commitments, and the strategies Des Moines will use to reach its goal.

Iowa Middle Schooler Organizes Climate Strikes at the State Capitol

Lillian Hill, a 14-year-old student in Johnston, Iowa, hosted the first of what she plans to be monthly climate strikes at the Capitol building in Des Moines. 

"This crisis is putting Iowans, Americans, and other individuals at risk of financial crisis, food shortages, property destruction, health crisis, and so much more," says Hill. "Iowa legislators need to realize Iowans want climate action now, not in 30 years."

Climate groups and individuals joined Hill for her first strike last month. Read more about her inspiration and plans for the future.  


IEC Energy Events and Activities

With recently updated renewable energy siting ordinance best practice documents, IEC will host a series of webinars on renewable energy siting in early 2022. City and county leaders and staff are invited to attend the solar ordinance webinar on January 12 and the wind ordinance webinar on February 9. Share with your local leadership or register to attend. 

Join IEC for a look at what's ahead for Iowa's environment and the clean energy transition in the 2022 legislative session. Our staff will review IEC's policy goals for the year, discuss opportunities on the horizon, and share how you can help. Register now to join us on January 5 at 12:00 p.m. for this free event. 


Upcoming Energy Events

11/30 - Equitable Solar Deployment in SolSmart Communities, US DOE, SETO, and IREC

12/7 - IEC 2021 Annual Meeting

12/8 - State Energy Planning: Buildings, Transportation, and Industry, MEEA

12/9 - Growing Solar in Your Community with MREA

1/5 - IEC 2022 Legislative Preview

1/12 - Solar Shines: Updated Siting Ordinances for Local Officials, IEC

Have an upcoming event we don't have listed here? Send it to us at iecmail@iaenvironment.org

505 Fifth Ave. Suite 850 
Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2317

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