A national group is opening an office in Des Moines to continue its work on a wide range of cases dealing with environmental issues. Environmental Law and Policy Center executive director Howard Learner.
"We’ve been operating in Iowa and the Dakotas and Illinois and Wisconsin and Minnesota for about 14 years," Learner says. "We’ll be hiring new staff here in Iowa and it’ll be attorneys, agriculture economists, public policy specialists — all focused around the ways we (can) solve environmental problems."
Iowa seems to be the center for renewable fuel development, according to Learner, and he says that’s why the office is opening here. "We think here we can help make things happen in a more intensive way," Learner says. The Environmental Law and Policy Center’s clients are "diverse" according to Learner. He says they’ve worked with the Farmers Union and the Farm Bureau as well as environmental groups and businesses to develop renewable energy projects.
"We’re an environmental group that likes to say ‘yes.’..We’re looking to solve problems," Learner says. "Our coalition partners and clients and colleagues aren’t just the usual suspects. We have a longstanding history of working closely with farm groups. There are a number of issues where we agree. Let’s work together. On the issues where maybe we disagree, let’s find a way to disagree without being disagreeable."
Learner says you can get a lot more done with that kind of attitude. The center’s work is financed primarily by private foundations and individual donors.