50+ Groups Back Landmark Effort to Halt 'Out of Control' Factory Farming in Iowa
By Jessica Corbett
More than 50 groups are demanding that Iowa lawmakers urgently pass landmark legislation to enact a moratorium on factory farm expansion in a state that is home to more than 10,000 of them.
"Across the nation, factory farming destroys communities and contaminates drinking water supplies and air quality," said Krissy Kasserman, the national factory farm campaigner at Food & Water Watch, one of the groups behind the effort. "A stop to the expansion of factory farming needs to happen now. It begins with Iowa."
In a letter to members of Iowa's General Assembly on Thursday, dozens of local, state and national groups wrote that a ban on new and expanded factory farms would give lawmakers "an overdue opportunity to evaluate the public health, economic and societal impacts of factory farms while providing Iowa's communities with important statutory protections from further expansion of this industry."
"Iowa is in the midst of a serious water pollution crisis," the letter declares, citing research from 2014 that found 750 bodies of water in the state, or more than half tested, contained pollutants or showed other conditions tied to factory farming‚ "including E. coli, excessive algal growth and diminished aquatic life."
The letter chastises the Environmental Protection Agency and state officials who, for decades, "have failed to regulate the environmental impacts of factory farms," and illustrates how existing regulations are "failing Iowa's communities" with a series of examples:
Family farmers and rural residents are often left feeling like prisoners in their own homes, unable to hold family gatherings or hang laundry outside to dry due to the overwhelming stench and air pollution. Retirees are left with the realization that their homes and properties—often their nest eggs—are depreciated due to the decline in property values associated with living next to a factory farm. Research has shown that Iowans living near factory farms are more likely to experience respiratory problems, headaches, diarrhea, burning eyes, nausea and more serious health problems as a result of factory farm air pollution.
Cherie Mortice, board president of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, said even though "state agencies and lawmakers are failing to protect our communities and environment," it is "clear to Iowans that the factory farm industry is out of control." She noted that the state is "seeing a massive expansion" in factory farming, and warned: "we're at a tipping point and need to put a stop to this industry immediately."
Food & Water Watch maps out where factory farms are most concentrated in the country:
In an editorial exploring multiple policy proposals, including a moratorium, the Des Moines Register wrote last fall that "pressing pause may be the only way Iowa can catch up to this fast-growing industry." The newspaper pointed to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report that showed a "record number of hogs and pigs were on Iowa farms as of Sept. 1: 22.9 million, up 3 percent from a year ago," and noted, "That's about 7.3 times more pigs than people in the state."
"Our call for a moratorium is a call for the return of plain, old common sense," explained Chris Peterson, an independent Iowa hog farmer and regional representative for the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, another signatory on the letter. "Iowa is suffering under the enormous weight of a business that has no respect for the people, environment, animals and future of the state."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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