Environmentalists lobbied legislators at the statehouse today in Des Moines seeking money for their various projects. The Iowa Environmental Council represents more than 50 conservation and outdoor recreation groups in the state. Council president Tom Hadden says their top priority is to get the legislature to fund the five million dollars worth of projects recommended at last fall’s water quality summit. Hadden says cleaning up the water is key to economic development. He says our people are leaving the state and we want them to stay here, and quality of life is an important part of that. He says we seem to accept a lower standard of quality of life, we seem to think that our streams are supposed to be brown and our lakes green. But he says they don’t have to be that way. The five million dollars would be used to pay for local cleanup projects and a study of fertilizer runoff. Council executive director Rich Leopold says 206 Iowa lakes and waterways are on the impaired list and there are 286 impairments. He says the most typical impairments have to do with nutrients or sediment in the water, which cause algae blooms and fish die offs, or lakes fill in. A lot also have to do with bacteria impairments where people are not advised to swim. Leopold says another priority for the council is legislation requiring Iowa’s utility companies to buy or produce 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2010. He believes this would significantly stimulate Iowa’s wind industry.He says we’ve done a similar thing in the state with ethanol, where it started out with a state mandate, and now ethanol has the market share of vehicle fuel. He says “they know and we know that we’re going toward renewable”, but he says what they dispute is the speed at which we’re going. Leopold says the council’s final priority is to protect the current conservation programs from budget cuts.
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