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Commentary: Growing Iowa’s clean energy economy

Commentary: Growing Iowa’s clean energy economy


In Iowa and across the Midwest, each rainy season, and especially during significant weather events, there is a sense of fear and anxiety that the next catastrophe could be even worse than the last. This year, that fear was realized when historical floods this spring again broke records, devastating our communities, our homes and our farms.

Todd Prichard

Todd Prichard

Iowa even set a record this year, with the wettest 12-month period since 1895, when data was first collected. Both farmers and researchers agree: climate change is driving the extreme rainfall that ultimately led to our state's $2 billion flood – the most expensive in Iowa’s history.

As extreme weather events like flooding increase in frequency and intensity, we need to address the pollution that is causing climate change. This past month, another round of extreme rainfall hit Iowa, yielding four feet of water in our family’s own cattle pasture. It is clear that extreme weather driven by climate change is harming our state, and we need solutions to address the very real and very present climate threat.

We have a duty to use the best information and every tool at our disposal to act on climate because only then can good, effective public policy tackle the problem at-hand. From my current tenure in the Iowa House of Representatives, this principle has guided my service and approach to addressing big challenges; the threat of climate change should be a wakeup call to our leaders that we cannot afford to slow walk a response.

Military and national security experts have, in fact, identified climate change as a pressing national security threat. According to the Dept. of Defense, two-thirds of U.S. military installations are currently at risk of flooding, drought, or wildfires linked directly to climate change. In 2017 alone, the Department of Defense spent $1.7 billion repairing infrastructure across the country after three named storms, a figure expected to rise dramatically as climate change fuels ever-stronger weather events. We cannot afford to let down the men and women who are serving our country by failing to act on climate.

To address the carbon pollution in our atmosphere that is driving climate change, we need to embrace clean energy technology, like wind, solar, and biofuels. The good news is Iowa is already leading the way. We’ve already seen the benefits of a clean energy economy, and our state has become a leader in wind energy, generating nearly a third of its electricity from wind and supporting nearly 10,000 jobs. It also provides additional income to struggling family farmers without displacing valuable crops.

Continuing our state’s transition to a clean economy will not only be a boon to Iowa’s economy, but will also reduce pollution and our dependence on foreign oil.

While right here in Iowa we are working hard to transition to cleaner energy sources, we need leaders in Washington, D.C., to not only support these efforts in Iowa, but make more progress on clean energy nationwide and worldwide.

Our Environment: Fall 2019

Stay in tune with the land you live on. Healthy lives depend on healthy ecosystems. Here are our environmentally related stories from autumn of 2019.

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The Iowa Department of Agriculture recognized Heritage and Century Farm families during a ceremony at the 2019 Iowa State Fair, including nine…

Rep. Prichard is the minority leader of the Iowa House and serves Iowa House District 52. He is an Iowa native, owns a law firm in Charles City, and is a military service veteran of multiple overseas deployments.


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