A Clearwing hummingbird moth enjoys nectar from a bee balm (wild bergamont) flower. The moth has transparent wings and is the most common type in the U.S.

A brilliant Common Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly feeds on a wild bergamot flower.

'Growing Climate Solutions Act' should be renamed 'crap and trade' because Senate bill contains no actual cap on greenhouse gas emissions

Some of you may have seen the op-ed that Dr. Jones and I wrote for the Des Moines Register regarding the Gov. Reynolds’ carbon task force.

You may have also seen that the U.S. Senate passed the "Growing Climate Solutions Act," which will use public funds to create certification programs for agriculture and forestry “markets." I am writing to clarify what these programs do, why it is not appropriate to call them markets, and the potential challenges they signal for a real economy-wide climate change mitigation policy.

Markets exist because people want to obtain scarce resources. In the case of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, for a market to function, the government has to impose a maximum emission amount (the cap in cap and trade). This creates an artificial scarcity that serves to jumpstart the market. Without a cap, there is no reason to trade pollution credits, because pollution is not restricted.

Government cuts corners on public participation

Several times a week, someone contacts me because they had difficulty learning about a government meeting or ran into obstacles trying to get government records.

These calls and emails to the Iowa Freedom of Information Council come more frequently than just a few years ago. This is a troubling trend because there is growing citizen distrust of government at all levels.

It should not be this way. Government officials in Iowa already have the power to make these citizen frustrations disappear — if they want to.

Judge calls out lawmakers on ‘tricks’ and ‘mischiefs’ in Iowa's legislative process

Last week’s district court ruling that struck down a 2020 Iowa law was notable not only as the latest skirmish in the war over abortion rights but also for the way the judge took Iowa lawmakers to task for the shortcuts they have been taking with the legislative process.

District Judge Mitchell Turner dispensed fairly quickly with the substance of the law: a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion. He simply pointed to the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling that struck down a similar, 72-hour waiting period and overturned the new law on similar grounds.

The governor has already vowed an appeal and the new law is on hold until then. But the Iowa Legislature’s work may well continue before the appeal is decided and this ruling directly relates to how lawmakers do the people’s business.

Bettendorf would add three traffic roundabouts under Forest Grove Drive and Middle Road intersection plan going before city council

Forest Grove Dr. and Middle Rd. corridor improvements projected at $11.46 million; city share estimated at $5.5 million

CLICK HERE to view web site created by project's engineering firm.

Bettendorf was one of the first communities in Iowa to install a traffic roundabout back in 2002.

Now nearly 20 years later, the city is planning to quadruple the number of roundabouts under a traffic plan being proposed for the congested Forest Grove Drive and Middle Road corridor.

New ALDI Food Store to join HyVee and Fareway along Bettendorf Devils Glen and Belmont corridor

A new 19,000-square-foot ALDI Food Store will soon join HyVee and Fareway grocery stores in the busy Devils Glen and Belmont corridor in Bettendorf.

The site plan for the new store will go before the Bettendorf City Council Tuesday (6/1) for approval. The store will be on the southeast corner of Devils Glen and Belmont Roads, part of what was once known as the "Golden Triangle" because of its potential for commercial development.

Disinfection treatment, flood protection required at Davenport/Bettendorf sewage treatment plant under amended consent order with Iowa DNR

Sewage from Bettendorf and Davenport will undergo enhanced treatment beginning early next year under revised terms of a consent order signed in February with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

The revised agreement establishes Feb. 28, 2022 as the deadline for adding disinfection treatment, using ultraviolet light, at the Davenport Wastewater Treatment Plant, which handles sewage from Davenport, Bettendorf, Riverdale and Panorama Park.

Lee reports $600,000 loss for second quarter

Lee Enterprises – owner of the Quad City Times and Dispatch Argus newspapers – reported a net loss of $600,000 (6 cents per share) for the second quarter ended March 28.

The loss reflects a 16 percent decline in advertising and marketing services revenue for the period compared (on a pro forma basis) with the same three-month period a year ago.

Bettendorf subdivision developer fined $6,000 by Iowa DNR to settle storm water permit violations

Ven Green Land Development LLC – developer of the Spencer Hollow residential subdivision in north Bettendorf – has agreed to pay $6,000 to settle storm water runoff permit violations that occurred in July 2020.

According to the administrative consent order issued March 9, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) received a complaint July 15 of last year alleging water in a tributary to Spencer Creek was brown from silt that had run off from the housing subdivision.

Education department expertise loses out to political power in school voucher legislation

The Iowa Department of Education has 220 staff members and a budget of more than $10 million. But it has zero independence or political power.

That's why school legislation in Iowa is driven by the political agenda of the governor, Republican Party leaders and this year, by the Americans for Prosperity, a right wing organization funded largely by the Koch brothers, and Betsy DeVos, ex-head of the Trump administration's education department.

Iowa's ag college experts on nutrient reduction say their role is to educate, not regulate farm operations

Mandating measures to control and reduce chemical pollution from farm fields should begin, University of Iowa water quality researchers say.

But, don't expect Iowa's land-grant agricultural institution – Iowa State University – to join the call for regulation or any government measures to limit the use of fertilizer on ag land.

Researchers at the University of Iowa Hydroscience and Engineering Department have been analyzing farm field runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus for decades.

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