Our nature is the one area that unites all of us. Whether you farm, hunt, fish, hike, bike, or take your kids to play at the local park, you are experiencing the beauty of Iowa's nature. As Iowans, we have a powerful connection to our land and celebrate it every harvest season. This appreciation for what our land gives us should extend to all of our natural resources, and we should be leading the way as responsible stewards of our natural environment.
The great conservationist Aldo Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa, the same place I was born. He said "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the [natural] community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." Every environmental policy at the state level should pass the Leopold test:
- Does it preserve Iowa's integrity?
- Does it preserve Iowa's stability?
- Does it preserve Iowa's beauty?
When we make sure legislation passes the Leopold test, we are making our state better. We strengthen our sense of pride in our state, we make our state attractive to young professionals and modern businesses looking to invest, and we preserve our farming, hunting, hiking, biking, and playing for the next generations.
Iowa has a water quality crisis. We are long past the time for research committees and focus groups to decide whether we should be doing something about Iowa's water. We need action now. If we expect young people to work and raise families in our state, water quality should not be a question when we turn our faucets.
Simple steps are readily available for us to work together and take on the water quality challenge. First and foremost, we need to finally listen to Iowan voters and fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. It has been 8 years since Iowa voters approved the measure and 12 years since Iowa legislators began to attempt to address the problem. Every additional second unfunded is another second our water is getting worse. The fund will ensure stable financial support to clean up our watershed areas. With the fund, we can support more conservation practices by developing wetlands, buffer strips, and terracing to modernize our drainage systems. Second, we need to do more to coordinate our actions with entire communities rather than demand change from single actors. Merely demanding any one specific group to fix the water problem is inaccurate and counterproductive. Third, we need to make sure our Department of Natural Resources is appropriately staffed. All around the state, citizens are not maintaining minimum compliance because they know there are no consequences for their actions.
Water is an issue that should unite all Iowans. Whether for boating, fishing, or swimming, water brings people outside to engage in our natural environment. We need to be responsible stewards of our land AND water.
More extreme weather. Hotter hot, colder cold, wetter wet, and drier dry. This already is the new normal, and it will continue to get worse if we don’t do more to address climate change. Iowa must be a leader in the Midwest and show we are serious about preserving our state for future generations.
We do this by quickening our own transition to a clean energy economy while fighting as one collective body at the federal level. If we are serious about Iowa staying a great place for the next generations, we need to support local community action that combats climate change while acting as leaders nationally.
The first step Iowa needs to take is to reinstate its Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council. Weather patterns are growing more extreme and are harming our state, yet our state decided to dissolve the one body best suited to take the necessary steps to reduce our statewide greenhouse emissions. Our state government should be moving toward powering more of its buildings with renewable energy and investing in an electric vehicle future. We also should be encouraging more Iowa cities to take responsibility for their own actions and lead the way on innovative strategies for reducing our carbon footprint.
Iowa benefits environmentally and fiscally by being at the forefront of the new clean energy economy. When we move away from sources of pollution, we are investing in clean energy solutions that cultivate job creation and economic development. If we can be responsible stewards of our environment while keeping more money in our pocketbooks, why aren't we?