April 2016 Meeting Notes

Iowa City Climate Advocates/Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Notes from the April 19, 2016 Meeting

(prepared by Peter Rolnick)

People at the meeting:

Linda Quinn (100 Grannies)

Mary Beth Versgrove (100 Grannies)

Fred Meyer (Backyard Abundance)j

Miriam Kashia (100 Grannies &…)

Jim Olson (Iowa United Nations Association)

Allison Roberts

Sarah Paulos (Iowa Interfaith Power & Light)

Cheryl Valenta (350.org)

Cheryl Miller

Eric Johnson

Jenna Hammerich

Deborah Dee (100 Grannies)

Brenda Nations (City of Iowa City Sustainability)

Jen Jordan (City of Iowa City Sustainability)

Connie Mutel

Jim Trepka (Sierra Club)

Del Holland (Environmental Advocates)

Mike Carberry (Sierra Club)

John Macatee

Peter Rolnick

(Maureen McCue with Physicians for Social Responsibility was there for a while, but had to leave early. Jeff Biggers with Ecopolis was not able to attend because of other commitments.)

  • Jim Olson gave a nice overview of the “Paris Agreement” (the outcome of the 21st meeting in December, 2015, of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was formed in 1992). Some of his main points included:

    • The agreement is not a treaty “imposed from above” (that was tried at the Kyoto meeting and was not successful). By not being a treaty, it does not need to be ratified by the U.S. Congress. Rather, each country pledges to reduce its carbon emissions by a certain amount. The agreement is not binding.

    • The U.S. agreed to reduce its emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2015.

    • The fact that China was part of the agreement was a big help in making it a success.

    • The long-term objective is to keep the mean world temperature increase since preindustrial times to “well below 2°C” and to try to limit it to 1.5°C.

    • There will be a $100 billion fund (the Green Climate Fund) for helping poorer countries through the upcoming transitions through 2020.

    • The agreement acknowledges that small island nations have suffered losses and damage, but no one may be held responsible.

    • The agreement gives voice to “non-state” actors.

    • “Old alliances” (for example rich nations versus poor nations) that were in place in previous negotiations have broken down.

    • Jim recommended that we advocate for support of the Clean Power Plan, and for contributing to the Green Climate Fund.

  • A representative from each of the organizations present gave a brief overview of what their organization is about and what its members do:

    • Iowa City Climate Advocates (Peter): As the Iowa City chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, they lobby for the implementation of a revenue-neutral fee on carbon as soon as possible. This involves meeting with and writing to our members of the House and Senate, writing letters to and op-eds for the local newspapers, and doing outreach. In addition, they engage in local activities that compliment what the other organizations represented tonight are doing. They meet once a month, usually the third Wednesday of the month (next meeting time and place is at the end of these notes).

    • Environmental Advocates (Del): Help support environmental causes via seed money, mentoring, candidates’ forums. They do not have regular meetings, they just have meetings when needed.

    • Sierra Club (Mike): Work on all environmental issues. In Iowa they have focused on improving water quality, preventing sprawl and stopping the Bakken pipeline, among other things. They do not have regular meetings, but they put on quarterly events such as canoe trips and issues forums.

    • 100 Grannies for a Livable World (Mary Beth & Linda): Women of mature age concerned about the environment and community rights. They do education, lectures, a film series, tabling, training (for example, a direct action training coming up in Des Moines regarding the fight to stop the Bakken pipeline). Their motto: Educate, Advocate, Agitate.

    • Interfaith Power & Light (Sarah): Education and training for advocacy in support of environmental sustainability for and through faith-based organizations. Interested in forming a local chapter consisting of a number of local faith organizations. Zion Lutheran is already active.

    • City of Iowa City (Brenda-Sustainability Coordinator): Many things going on: Compact of Mayors (a non-binding international agreement involving doing a a greenhouse gas inventory, setting a climate reduction target and an action plan). There is a need to focus on the sources of energy we use. According to the most recent STAR rating (see http://www.starcommunities.org/rating-system/ for more info about this way of rating communities for sustainability), out of seven goal areas, Iowa City scored lowest in the climate part.

    • City of Iowa City (Jen-Recycling Coordinator): Works with the landfill. In addition to the challenges of what to do with what comes into the landfill, an important but different challenge is to decrease what comes in in the first place. Jen also works with Eco Iowa City, “an initiative to improve environmental sustainability in Johnson County, Kalona and Riverside. ECO Iowa City provides events, programs, hands-on workshops, films, book recommendations and discussions, incentives and resources…and lots of opportunities (in person and online!) for fun and community-building.

    • Backyard Abundance (Fred): In an effort to help the members of the community shrink their environmental footprint, they help homeowners (and others?) with advice about how to landscape in a way that minimizes erosion and flooding, paying attention not only to people’s land and homes, but also their souls.

    • 350.org (Cheryl Valenta): An international organization devoted to addressing the problems of climate change. Recently, for example, they have been involved in “bird dogging” (that is, making sure that, at public events involved candidates running for office, someone is present to ask questions specifically about climate change), and in an effort (called Exxon Knew) to hold Exxon accountable for keeping secret research that revealed, early on, the effects of their products on the climate. (Iowa’s attorney general has already agreed to join those from other states in addressing this issue as a group).

    • Johnson County Supervisors (Mike): Working on many things having to do with sustainability, including trying to lower the barriers to growing food in the county.

    • Iowa Wind Energy Association (Mike): They are working, for example, on a “3rd Party Power Purchase Agreement”.

  • We talked about the need for a central listing of climate/environmental organizations in Johnson County. There is currently a (not-up-to-date) listing, along with some other listings, on the ICCA website at http://iowa-city-climate-advocates.org/links-and-resources/. In the next few weeks, Peter will clean-up and update that site.

  • We talked about the Iowa City City Council’s efforts at sustainability, in particular:

      • Set a substantive and achievable goal for reducing city-wide carbon emissions by 2030, and create an ad-hoc climate change task force, potentially under an umbrella STAR Communities committee, [and] … devise a cost-effective strategy for achieving the goal”,

      • Set aside $100,000 to “Undertake a project in FY 2017 that achieves a significant measurable carbon emission reduction.”

    Do we want to form an ad hoc group to start looking into these issues, to give input to the City when they reach that point? Cheryl Miller said she will start doing research into what other City’s have done in this area. Anyone interested in helping with that effort, or with these City Council priorities in general, please contact Peter (prolnick@truman.edu).

  • We discussed the challenge of working with organized labor, which has the same goals is most of us in the long run, but in certain areas (their support for pipeline construction, for example) are at odds with what some of us are trying to accomplish. Peter has made some outreach to local labor leaders, and Mike has had some experience in attempting to work with labor.

  • We discussed efforts in Iowa to address agriculture’s effect on the climate, in particular “big ag”, the growing of corn and soybeans on a massive scale in ways that worsen, rather than improve the situation. The idea of carbon farming was brought up (from The Carbon Cycle Institute: Carbon Farming involves implementing practices that are known to improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant material and/or soil organic matter”). A number of groups were mentioned that focus on agriculture and climate, or areas related to that:

  • On a final note, I’ll just mention that, at the time of our meeting, I had just finished reading Connie Mutel’s book A Sugar Creek Chronicle: Observing Climate Change from a Midwestern Woodland, and I recommend it. Lots of good information and insight–realistic while providing reason for hope!

March 23, 2016 Meeting Notes

Notes from our MARCH 23, 2016 meeting:

  • People at the meeting: Peter Rolnick, Holly Berkowitz, Cheryl Miller, John Christenson, Eric Johnson, Jenna Hammerich, Jamie McCoy
  • After a brief overview of the resources for letter writing on the CCL-Community website, we wrote letters (one to Senator Joni Ernst and five to Senator Grassley) expressing our concerns about climate change. Those letters were mailed two days later. We think we might do this at future meetings (but not our April meeting – see below).
  • Short Discussion Items & Announcements
    • It looks like one month for the Environmental Writers’ Group’s op eds for the Press-Citizen is not covered. Peter will contact Barbara Eckstein to check on that, and, if needed, Holly has volunteered to take that month.
    • Jenna agreed to include the Gazette as part of her outreach to media.
    • Anyone who wants to Table at the Nature Explore Family Fair at Kent Park on Sunday, April 24th, 1-4 pm should let Peter know (prolnick@truman.edu) by 5 pm Friday, 3/25.
    • We went over a “First Draft” of a poster for Tabling that Linda Quinn has been working on. Peter will pass those comments on to Linda (who was not at the meeting).
    • We talked about raising money for our not-very-big expenditures (photocopying, making posters, MeetUp.com). Eric suggested asking for contributions from MeetUp. Peter suggested that we have a http://www.governorsnewenergyfuture.org/news/party with a potluck and music once or twice a year and charge a few dollars admission.
    • Holly told us that Governor Branstad has signed onto the Governor’s clean energy accord. Though he avoided including climate change in his support statement, this is still something we could show our appreciation for. More info can be found at .
    • Anyone who is interested in doing outreach as a speaker (at schools, religious organizations, Rotary, other?) should let Linda (quinnhenry@msn.com) know. Linda has agreed to contact groups and organizations and arrange speaking engagements. Eric mentioned that Steve Shivers is organizing a state-wide database (?) of such speakers, and perhaps we should coordinate whatever we do with him.
    • There are currently three areas of focus for those working on stopping the Bakken pipeline: pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers, direct action, and working with county boards of supervisors for the 18 counties affected. Anyone interested in helping with that should contact Cheryl Valenta (valentacheryl@gmail.com), who is with 350.org.
    • 350.org is also working to put pressure on our attorney general Tom Miller to investigate Exxon “about their research that revealed climate change, and the fact that they kept it a secret for several decades.” In particular, they are gathering signatures for petitions to be brought to Miller. Those interested in participating should contact Cheryl (valentacheryl@gmail.com).
  • Plan for April Meeting
    • Holly agreed to help with snacks, which Linda has also agreed to do.
    • Holly also agreed to let I-Renew know about our April meeting (they were not on the list of organizations we initially reached out to).
    • We agreed that our goals for the April meeting, to which other area organizations addressing climate change have been specifically invited (but the meeting is open to the public) were:
      • To hear a short overview, given by Jim Olson of the United Nations Association, of the outcome of the Paris Meetings as a point of departure for further discussion,
      • For members of ICCA to hear what the primary focus is for each of other organizations, as a way for ICCA to narrow its focus in a way that is most useful to the overall goals presented by Jim,
      • To possibly form an ad-hoc group (committee? whatever you want to call it) that would start addressing the City Council’s Sustainability Initiatives. As an example of where that might start, Jim Throgmorton has suggested conducting “preliminary research into carbon emission reduction goals that other cities [especially small cities with Universities, such as Lawrence, KS] have adopted.” For such a group to form and accomplish something, a person (or persons) would need to take on the role of chair/organizer.

Climate Change is a Security Risk

by Eric Johnson (from the Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 21, 2016)

In 2014, the Pentagon cited climate change as an “immediate” threat to the United States’ safety because of the strain it will put on our military, both in responding to climate change-caused disasters in our own country and dealing with political unrest in nations that fall apart under the stress of climate change. Last July, the Department of Defense delivered a similar report to Congress, concluding that the “Defense Department already is observing the impacts of climate change in shocks and stressors to vulnerable nations and communities, including in the United States, the Arctic, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America.”

These projections may sound a bit abstract, so let’s look at the damage that climate change is causing right now and see what it might look like when the full weight of this problem hits our country.

It may be hard for us to imagine here in the breadbasket of the world, but many populated areas are very dry. Growing food in these regions has no margin for error, and even relatively small fluctuations in rainfall can cause food scarcity and trigger mass migrations of people. Beginning in 2006, Syria experienced a long drought that resulted in many rural residents losing their livelihoods. This helped to spark the bloody civil war that’s been raging for five years now. Other fallout from this drought includes the rise of ISIS (it’s true—check politifact.com) and the immigrant crisis in Europe. According to the UN, 4.8 million Syrians have been displaced from their home country. As the weather becomes more erratic and imperils other countries’ food supplies and economies, we will see many more ISIS-like groups and millions of people flooding into neighboring countries as refugees.

The United States could easily experience an immigration crisis similar to what Europe is facing now. Mexico has less farmable land per capita than Syria. A severe drought in Mexico could lead to a mass migration of Mexicans seeking refuge in the US. Twenty-eight percent of Syrians have so far sought refuge in neighboring countries. If a similar proportion of Mexicans sought refuge in the US, we would be looking at 26 million Mexican refugees. That’s more than double the number of illegal Mexican immigrants currently living in our country.

Further, as climate change limits our own country’s resources and causes us to ration water and food, we will likely experience a surge of riots and violent crime. Scarcity scares people. This is especially dangerous in a country where many people have access to guns.

These are the kinds of scenarios the Pentagon is worried about. Climate change guarantees that things like this are going to happen. The only way to stop climate change is with action at the federal level. Proposed legislation currently exists to solve climate change, and it even creates millions of jobs. The plan is called Carbon Fee and Dividend, and it involves placing a fee on carbon, then taking the proceeds of that fee and distributing it equally to all American households. This protects the vast majority of Americans from increased energy costs, while at the same time creates an incentive to use less carbon-intensive energy and products.

However, no legislation that addresses the climate change threat will make it through Congress unless it’s supported by Republicans, as they control both houses. A group of Republicans in the House has started down the climate solution path, but there is currently no Republican leadership on this issue in the Senate. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a clear-sighted Republican to stand up and rescue us from the cliff we’re teetering on. This leader will go down in history as having saved the U.S. from these immigration and military catastrophes.

I nominate Senator Joni Ernst. Her military experience gives her unique insight into this looming threat. She wasn’t afraid to be the first female veteran in the Senate, so she shouldn’t be afraid to be the first to take on this historic challenge. Call Senator Ernst and tell her to support Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation.

A Quiz for You

So, here’s a quiz question. Who wrote the following, when was it written, and to what was the writer referring?

“We now stand where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road – the one ‘less traveled by’ – offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures preservation of our earth.”

February 17, 2016 Meeting Notes

(Notes prepared by Peter Rolnick)

People Present: Marc Franke, Jim Throgmorton, Dennis Gordon, Eric Johnson, Jenna Hammerich, Jamie McCoy, Linda Quinn, Barbara Eckstein, Chris Bergan, Peter Rolnick

Upcoming CCL Lobby Efforts:

  • Peter gave a brief overview of CCL and Carbon Fee & Dividend (CF&D)
  • Eric will be the Member of Congress (MOC) Liaison, meaning he will schedule meetings with MOCs for both the in-district and DC meetings.
  • In-district lobbying:
    • Eric will arrange a meeting with Dave Loebsack (or one of his staffers) some time between March 24 and April 11. Anita Christensen, CCL Iowa State Coordinator, will arrange a meeting with Senator Joni Ernst, and Paul Sanchini, Cedar Rapids chapter, will arrange a meeting with Senator Chuck Grassley. Anita and/or Paul will let us know if they need people from our chapter to attend either of those meetings.
    • Linda, Jenna, Dennis, Jamie and Peter are all interested in participating in such a meeting, and Eric will keep them informed of how arrangements are progressing.
  • Peter will be attending the DC CCL meeting, and will do whatever lobbying there that can be arranged. Others are encouraged to attend the DC meeting and lobbying if they are able to and interested.
  • Here are some links related to CCL and the DC meeting:
    • To join CCL, go to: http://citizensclimatelobby.org and click on the red button in the upper-right corner. Once you’ve joined you will be prompted to set up an account to allow you onto the CCL-Community website, where there are lots of resources.
    • To go to CCL-Community (if you are already a member of CCL), go to: http://community.citizensclimatelobby.org.
    • To register for the International CCL Meeting and Lobby Day in DC (or to find out more about it) go to: http://citizensclimatelobby.org/ccl-conference-2016/ (you will see that you can register either for just the conference or for both the conference and lobbying).

Plan for Meeting to Discuss Purpose and Direction of ICCA/Iowa City Chapter of CCL:

  • We decided the meeting should be in April, and that other groups in the area working on climate issues should be invited to participate. People are to email to Peter (prolnick@truman.edu) their suggestions for groups for him to contact by Tuesday February 23, and he will then contact them as the meeting is arranged.
  • We decided that this “big meeting” would replace the usual meeting for whatever that month is.
  • Please email to Peter (prolnick@truman.edu) any suggestions for where this meeting should be, when it should be (we are thinking April), and anything else you think would be helpful.

Other:

  • Barbara had previously agreed to speak to student groups at the University to see if there was interest in addressing the issue of energy efficiency of rental properties. She reported that she did speak to two such groups, that they were interested, but that it was the students in the groups who made the final decision as to what they would work on. The person (or persons?) she spoke to would bring the topic up with the students.
  • Marc suggested that we think about what a “post dealing with climate change” world would (should?) look like. Once we have laid out such a vision, we could then use it to plan initiatives.
  • Jim pointed out that the City Council’s strategic plan included two things of interest to us:
    • 1) Define a substantive and achievable goal for reducing emissions by 2030, and say how the City can achieve that goal. An ad hoc task force will be formed, including some appointments, to address this. Jim suggested that we may want address these questions ourselves, in cooperation with other environmental groups in the area, preemptively, and then be in a good position to give input to the City. We may also want to nominate one of our members to be a member of that task force. (Notice the similarity between this suggestion and Marc’s suggestion above.)
    • 2) $100,00 will be set aside for an unspecified carbon emission reduction project. Again, perhaps we may want to plan, in cooperation with other environmental groups in the area, what we think would be an appropriate project.
  • Eric, who works on the Iowa Climate Calendar (see http://iowaclimatecalendar.org/#/), told us that there was a paid-position opening for someone to post events to the Calendar and reach out to other climate change groups, $10/hr, up to $500/month. If you are interested, contact Steve Shivvers at stevesh@grm.net.
  • Linda and Peter will host an ICCA/CCL table at Prairie Preview, which is March 10. See http://www.buroaklandtrust.org/events/prairie-preview-xxxiii/. They will also use this as an opportunity to connect with other groups regarding the various ideas mentioned above. It was suggested that they include a handout about the City Council’s Strategic Plan questions mentioned above as part of the literature on hand.
  • Jenna agreed to be our Chapter’s Media Contact Person. Barbara told us that in the past the Press-Citizen has always published pre-written editorials that come from CCL (there was one recently by Mark Reynolds of CCL, for example), but that they have not done anything with press packets meant to encourage them to write their own editorials. In addition to the Press-Citizen and the Gazette, Jim and Dennis both suggested that Jenna develop a relationship with the Corridor Business Journal (and the name John Lohman was mentioned).
  • Our next meeting will be Wednesday, March 23. (This is not the 3rd Wednesday of March – it is the 4th Wednesday; this is to avoid meeting during Spring Break.) It was suggested that perhaps we should write letters to our MOCs at the next meeting.
  • Please remember to notify Peter (prolnick@truman.edu) whenever you, as a CCL member, have a letter to the editor or an op-ed published, or send a letter to your MOC.

Carbon Fee & Dividend is the Best Way to Deal with Low Gas Prices

The current glut of oil on the world market and the resulting low gas prices are hampering efforts to follow up on the Paris Climate Agreement. Specifically, sales of SUVs have gone up, sales of hybrid and plug-in vehicles have gone down. It amazes me that long-term decisions like which car to buy are so strongly influenced by short-term fluctuations in the current price of gas. According to the Carbon Tax Center, “increased gas consumption in 2015 produced carbon emissions equivalent to a year’s worth of emissions from nine coal-fired power plants.”

Though the US is has fuel economy standards in place, and China is holding the price of oil artificially high, regulations are not enough.

This is a clear case for a revenue-neutral carbon fee, where a price is put on carbon, increasing yearly, with the revenues returned directly to tax-payers. Such a market-based solution will smooth out the ups and downs in the price of oil in a way that puts climate change front and center, and will do so more effectively than regulation. Furthermore, it will help the economy by providing a kind of stability in what to expect in terms of the price fossil-fuel-derived products, a win-win for Democrats and Republicans alike!

More on this can be found at http://citizensclimatelobby.org/climate-setbacks-from-cheap-oil-show-need-to-price-carbon/?utm_source=CCL+Blog&utm_campaign=b3ed40a0d6-Blog_Subscribers1_9_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b3f6fc789-b3ed40a0d6-289229733

January 20, 2016 Meeting Notes

(prepared by Peter Rolnick)

People at the meeting: Peter Rolnick, Miriam Kashia, Jim Throgmorton , Barbaba Ekstein, Jenna Hammerich, Eric Johnson, Jesse Case, Marcia Akin, Bill Gerhard, Mary Windsor, Salomé Phillmann, Andrew Gutman

Discussion on Climate Change and Labor: Bill Gerhard (President, Iowa State Building & Construction Trades Council) and Jesse Case (organizer and business agent for Teamsters Local 238) joined us in discussing ways in which the labor movement and the movement to address climate change share common goals. Topics that came up included:
• We all agreed that we must transition from the current energy economy to one which is carbon neutral. So how do we get from here to there while maintaining those good jobs that are currently available? There are both short-term and long-term issues. We want new industries to be good for labor, environment and family.
• Some suggested we (the City? the State? the Country) are in a race to develop a renewable energy industry, and it will be a lost opportunity if we don’t move quickly in that direction.
• How do we get union representation in new industries? Jesse and Bill explained that the process of trying to get union representation is an uphill battle: union-busting is an active, big business, and even if the laborers win an election getting them union representation, that does not guarantee that they will get a contract.
• Carbon neutral buildings – what is involved? Reach out to experts about technology that is expected to help guide growth of new business in the area. Who should be at the table? Architect, Labor, Environment. Recruiting task force.
• In Iowa City there is a large vacant industrial site. Initially it was planned to be a wind energy industrial site, but that didn’t work out. The site is now shovel-ready.
• Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD), which assists with and encourages economic development in this area, deals with what we are talking about. Marc Nolte is on their staff, and is involved in site selection. Perhaps we should invite him to discuss these issues with us?
• Others we might want to invite: Martha Norbeck (an architect recommended by Jim
Throgmorton), Dave Lesch (sp?) (Dave Loebsack’s local representative), people from the UI Labor Center or Research Office.
• Labor should be part of the discussion in bringing new business to the area.
• In Europe, union reps are the the Boards of Directors of employers.
• Some companies do things well and treat workers well; some companies do things poorly and treat workers poorly. Jesse gave Proctor and Gamble/Oral B as an example of a local company that does things well and treats workers well. Those are the kinds of employers we want.
• In what ways can we assist labor in getting the training necessary for new jobs associated with the changing (we hope!) energy industry. For example, might we help the local Plumbers’ Union develop a program training plumbers to install solar hot water systems?

Sustainable Housing & Rentals: We talked about what we might do to encourage environmentally friendly rentals. Jim pointed out that there are/will be focused discussions by the City Council on Sustainability, Social Justice and Racial Equity. Out of those discussions, I think, something like study groups would be formed. Perhaps one or more ICCA members could volunteer when volunteers are asked for by the City Council for a group focusing on Sustainability. We could, for example, propose a carbon-emissions goal (for the City? for a building?). It was pointed out that this (rental housing and sustainability) is an issue that students are likely to be passionate about, and that we should continue reaching out to students.

Carbon Fee & Dividend (CF&D) and Party Platforms: Peter and Andrew Gutman may, at the upcoming caucus, try to start the process of getting some form of CF&D on the Democratic Party Platform. I have included some comments on this at the end of these meeting notes for reference in case anyone else wants to do this. Though Peter and Andrew are both caucusing with the Democrats, it may be particularly valuable if someone caucusing with the Republicans could get CF&D on the Republican Platform. CF&D Endorsements by County Board of Supervisors (JCBS) and Others: Andrew will continue working on getting the JCBS to endorse CF&D. He found a useful hour-long web lecture on CCLCommunity on the topic of getting endorsers. If you are a member of CCL-Community (which you can become if you join CCL), you can find the intro webinar on endorsements at
http://community.citizensclimatelobby.org/cclu/ccl-university-getting-endorsements/. Andrew pointed out that we would need a champion already on the JCBS as a starting point. Jim pointed out that the previous Mayor on the City Council was opposed to having the Council make endorsements of this kind. Jim does not know what the sense of the Council is now on that subject.

Purpose and Direction of ICCA: We continued discussion from last month on a “big meeting” to address our purpose and direction. We agreed that we would need at least two months to prepare for such a thing, which means the “big meeting” would be at the end of March or later. At Barbara Ekstein’s suggestion, Peter agreed to contact Jerry Schnoor to see if he would be the speaker at the event, and perhaps invite others who where in Paris with him. (He is an engineering professor at UI
who has studied climate change, and who was at the COP21 in Paris.) Other general suggestions re: our purpose and direction:
• Should we be an umbrella group, helping others sort out the many active groups in the area working on Climate Change and related issues?
• We should pay attention to what other groups are doing, collaborating where appropriate but not being redundant.
• Two missions: Promoting CF& D and acting to reduce carbon emissions locally?
Next Meeting: There was a consensus that at tonight’s meeting there were too many topics and not enough time to really talk to each other, and we should keep that in mind for future meetings. It was suggested that half the next meeting be devoted to planning for the “big meeting”. We might also talk about a plan to follow through on collaborating with local Labor leaders in some way.

Next Meeting is Wednesday, February 17, 7-8:30 pm, Room 212 (second floor) EPB at the UI (by the River next to the University Library). 

EPB is the English-Philosophy Building. Parking in Lot 3 (adjacent to EPB) is open to the public (but not free) at that time of day. Here is a link to help with the location: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/locations/parking/.
!!! NOTE UNUSUAL LOCATION FOR NEXT MEETING !!!

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Note about Party Platforms:

Here is a copy of the part of the 2014 Iowa Democratic Party Platform that addresses Climate Change:
ENERGY: COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE WITH RESPONSIBLE PRODUCTION & USE
We support:
28. Converting from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy
29. Revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend
30. Higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for all vehicles
31. Funding aggressive policies, education, and training, reducing greenhouse gases, and achieving energy independence, by:
a. Energy conservation
b. Smart grid improvement
c. Net metering
d. Efficient transportation system
e. Feed-in tariffs and net metering
32. Safe transport/storage of nuclear waste and fracking wastewater
33. Decreasing dependence on nuclear power
34. Subsidizing renewable energy
35. Iowa utility board regulation of community and individual/cooperative-owned renewable energy
We oppose:
36. Fossil fuels/nuclear power subsidies
37. Tar sands oil/Keystone XL Pipeline
38. New construction of coal and nuclear power plants
39. Fracking without environmental and geological protections
40. Deep water and arctic oil drilling
(I got this from http://iowademocrats.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2014-Iowa-Democratic-Party-State-Platform.pdf.)
As you can see, Carbon Fee & Dividend was already there! Maybe we should add “with border correction”. Or, maybe this is something we needn’t put energy into at the moment, at least for the Democratic Party.

December 16, 2015 Meeting Notes

(prepared by Peter Rolnick)

People at the meeting: Eric Johnson, Linda Quinn, Cheryl Miller, Judy Finkel, Andrew Guttman, Peter Rolnick, Jenna Hammerich, Miriam Kashia

  • Welcome etc.:
    • Jenna Hammerich introduced the new meeting format (that is: trying to follow an agenda – Eric Johnson suggested after the meeting that we hand out paper agendas at the beginning of each meeting, which we will do at the next meeting), we introduced ourselves, and we talked about general climate news, mostly the Paris COP21 agreement. (COP stands for “conference of the parties”; the parties in question are UN member nations, and this is the 21st such agreement – the first was in 1992, and over the years have included more publicized meetings in Tokyo and Copenhagen). This is the first time in a long time that the major contributors to climate change (e.g. US and China and India) have all “signed on” to an agreement.)
  • Sustainability Working Group of Johnson County (SWG):
    • Miriam had attended their December 2 meeting. Here is a little about them, from the County web site:
      • “The County … helped create, and is hosting, the Sustainability Working Group (SWG) of Johnson County to share ideas and potentially collaborate on sustainability efforts. Modeled on the Housing Task Force of Joint Entities group, SWG members (primarily staff but including some elected officials) hail from the county, cities, University of Iowa, Kirkwood Community College, and school districts. The group held its first meeting in September 2015 and meets quarterly.”
    • Do we want to send a representative regularly to their meetings? Peter has contacted Josh Busard (who is the person who contacted us about the recent meeting) to ask how we can get access to their meeting notes and other documents, and to express support for their work.
  • Johnson County Board of Supervisors Endorsement of Carbon Fee & Dividend (CF&D):
    • Andrew will continue pursuing this.
  • Concerns about nuclear and biomass in transitioning from fossil fuels:
    • Spurred by a discussion between Mark NeuCollins and Mike Carberry, who is on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, and who is concerned that CF&D may promote nuclear and biomass energy, we discussed the following:
      • Should or shouldn’t nuclear be part of the transition from fossil fuels? (My sense of the group is that most felt the answer was no, and someone suggested making there be a “no nuclear” clause in CF&D.),
      • What are the pros and cons of biomass? (It was suggested that using corn for ethanol is a net contributor to carbon in the atmosphere, but that using grasses grown with the appropriate agricultural methods is carbon neutral. Research is being conducted on this at the University of Iowa. We’d like to learn more about this.)
      • Does CF&D necessarily mean more nuclear and/or biomass?
  • Speakers List:
    • Jenna Hammerich is starting a list of potential speakers for future ICCA meetings, so if there’s someone local you’d like to hear from, let her know (jenna.hammerich@gmail.com).
  • Energy Efficiency in Rental Housing:
    • Thanks to Barbara Ekstein and Salomé Phillmann, we have two documents related to this issue. One is a proposal made to the Iowa City Council in 2013 to help make rental housing more environmentally sustainably (put together by, among others, then high school student Eli Shepard, now at Grinnell College). I don’t know what action, if any, was taken regarding that proposal. The other is some research Salomé has done on what’s being done on this issue elsewhere, particularly in France. We discussed whether this issue falls within the purview of ICCA – some felt it did and some felt it didn’t.
      • If you would like a copy of either or both of these documents, email Peter (prolnick@truman.edu).
  • Dialogue Between Environmental Activists and Labor Activists:
    • Peter Rolnick recently met with Bill Gerhard (President, Iowa State Building & Construction Trades Council) and Jesse Case (organizer and business agent for Teamsters Local 238), and they agreed to come to our January 20th meeting to talk with us. Tonight the ICCA group agreed that such a meeting to begin to find common ground between our work and that of local Labor Unions was worth pursuing. We agreed to commit half of our January meeting to this discussion. Peter consulted with Bill, and decided that Bill and Jesse would come to the meeting from 7-7:45 pm (after that they would be welcome to stay, but we would move on to other business).
  • Beadology Offer/Fundraising: 
    • We decided not to accept, at this time, Karen Kubby’s generous offer of a special shopping time at Beadology for ICCA supporters, some of the proceeds of which would go to ICCA, at least until we have a clearer idea of our purpose and direction (see below). Peter Rolnick called her and let her know. She also provided a standing offer for use of their back room for meetings (it can hold about 30 people at tables, and about 50 people without tables).
    • It was suggested that, if we do wish to pursue fundraising, we could also talk to Ride restaurant; they dedicate certain days to fundraising for local groups. Jenna Hammerich has emailed Ride to inquire about this.
  • Purpose and Direction of ICCA:
    • We had a wide ranging discussion on what the mission of ICCA should be. The following ideas were briefly discussed:
      • The closest thing I could find on our website to a mission statement is:
        • “[ICCA is] A group of individuals from widely different social, economic, faith, and political backgrounds… bound by a common concern for the environment, with a desire to engage in effective and meaningful action to protect it. We hold these convictions: that it is our collective responsibility to protect this world on which all life depends, and that we are bound by human compassion to work towards social justice for those most greatly affected by our failure to do so.”
      • We should have a list of all local environmental groups, and check for overlap between what each of them do and what we focus on.
      • Should we be working on CF&D only?
      • We should strengthen our link with Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL, a world-wide organization devoted to promoting CF&D).
        • Peter Rolnick plans to become the “official” contact person with the national CCL organization (unless someone else wants to do that), and will try to get that in place before our January meeting. It has been suggested that the Madison WI CCL group is especially successful, so maybe some of us could make a trip to Madison and meet with them to get ideas.
      • We used to have Saturday meetings that coincided with the CCL weekly (or monthly?) informational phone calls. Those were inspiring. Should we start doing that again?, Or, should we record those calls and then watch at beginning of our Wednesday monthly meeting? (Most people seemed to be against this last idea.)
      • Should we form a Speakers Bureau, in which members of our group who want to would make themselves available to speak on topics (e.g. the science behind climate change, the connection between agricultural practices and climate change, carbon fee & dividend, etc.). They could speak at local schools, churches, Lions Club, Rotary Club, Kirkwood, U of I, etc.
      • The completion of COP21 is teachable moment; now is a good time to think about what needs to happen next, and what our role should be.
      • Can we get CF&D on the Democratic or Republican platforms?
        • Peter Rolnick consulted Dennis Roseman, who is a co-chair of the Democratic County Platform Committee, and he said the following:
          • “…the first step is at the Precinct levels-have folks submit a resolution at the Caucus. Also at the caucuses get folks that support this elected to the County Platform Committee.” Both Peter and Andrew Guttmann expressed a willingness to pursue this at the upcoming Democratic caucus (they are both in precinct 17 in Iowa City).
        • If any of our group, Republicans or Democrats, are interested in working on this, contact Peter (prolnick@truman.edu).
      • Should we pursue fundraising more systematically (for photocopying, gas money, “scholarships” for our members to attend CCL lobbying days in Washington D. C., other)? Should we become an official non-profit organization?
        • Since the meeting, Jenna Hammerich has found the following:
          • To become a member of Iowa Shares (to which UI employees can donate via the workplace giving campaign), one of the requirements is being a 501c3 nonprofit, which (to our knowledge) ICCA is not.
          • To obtain 501c3 status, see: https://www.501c3.org/how-to-start-a-501c3-nonprofit/
    • Our discussion of purpose and direction culminated in a suggestion from Cheryl Miller that we call a big meeting of current and former ICCA members (there are no membership requirements, so if you want to consider yourself a member then you are a member). In particular, we should try to get those active in ICCA when it was first started in 2011 to attend. The purpose of this “big meeting” is to get input from as many people as possible about the direction we should take. We would suggest on the invitation email that those who don’t attend the meeting could still email their thoughts and suggestions. We further fine-tuned what the format of the meeting would be:
      • Someone would facilitate.
      • It would start with a talk (15 or 20 minutes) from someone who could give a clear, concise explanation of what the COP21 agreement consists of, and of the history of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) that led up to it. (Jenna Hammerich has agreed to see if she can find someone at the U of I who has the expertise/skill/willingness to give such a talk.)
      • The talk would be followed by breaking into groups to discuss our direction, then coming together and distilling the ideas various groups came up with.
      • The meeting should be after our January meeting to give us time to plan (I think we suggested it be after the February 1 Caucus).
      • We need to plan a time and a place for this meeting.
      • Refreshments?
  • We actually stayed on schedule and finished the meeting on time. Good for us!
  • Tentative Plans for January Meeting:
    • Labor/Environmental Issues discussion with Bill and Jesse
    • Make final plans for “Big Meeting”
    • Energy efficiency in rental housing?
    • Putting CF&D on Democratic and Republican platforms?
    • Other?
  • Bakken Note:
    • Though we didn’t discuss this at the meeting, Linda Quinn has pointed out that there was a hearing with Department of Natural Resources (DNR) having to do with the Bakken Pipeline (the DNR’s approval is part of the process), and that we can provide input to the DNR on the pipeline. Comments can be made until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016 by email at SLER@dnr.iowa.gov; or by sending written comments to:
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • Sovereign Lands Construction Permit Program 
  • 502 E. Ninth St. 
Des Moines, IA 50319

We meet the third Wednesday of every month from 7-8:30 pm. Our next meeting will be January 20, 7-8:30 pm, location to be announced.

ICCA Web Page: http://iowa-city-climate-advocates.org

Now is the Time to Write a Letter to the Editor About the Paris Climate Talks

Have you been meaning to write a letter to the editor about some issue having to do with climate change, but get bogged down with things like where to send it, and whether you have all your facts straight? Well, here are two things to know:

1) The Paris Climate talks are now in full swing, and there will not be a better time to get the public to pay attention to what is going on, nor will there be a better time to put pressure on our representatives in Washington and in Des Moines that the time for doing nothing is over.

2) Citizens Climate Lobby has made it really easy to send a personal letter to the editor of all the newspapers in your geographical area. Go to the Citizen’s Climate Lobby website for more information. This link includes talking points to help you put your letter together.