The Iowa Environmental Council is pushing for a ban that would forbid burning trash within the city limits of any Iowa town or city.  The group lobbied state legislators to enact the ban last year, but it failed to pass.

“We’re hoping to get similar legislation introduced this year with maybe some better definitions of what constitutes trash and figure out how we can phase that in over a period of time, based on the size of the municipality,” says Iowa Environmental Council executive director Marian Riggs Gelb. 

According to Gelb, more than a third of Iowa cities and towns still allow residents to burn trash within the city limits.  Gelb says air quality has become a concern in some areas, with state officials issuing warnings to Iowans who have health problems to avoid outdoor activities because “fine particulate matter” in the air has exceeded federal standards. The Iowa Environmental Council argues a ban on trash burning in Iowa cities could improve air quality.

“It’s one way to try to address what is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in Iowa,” Gelb says.  “So we’re looking at trying to do what we can within the constraints available to us.” 

Today is the Iowa Environmental Council’s “lobby day” at the statehouse.  The group and its affiliates have set up tables in the rotunda of the capitol and council members are meeting individually with legislators to discuss the group’s priorities.  The Iowa Environmental Council is made up of 54 different organizations, ranging from church groups to the Iowa chapter of the American Institute of Architects.