Action on Coal Plants

Action on Coal Plants
By Ed Fallon

Every week nay, every day some new news on climate change hits the fan, underscoring the reality and severity of Earths rising temperature. Yesterday, the Associated Press (AP) published a story entitled Climate panel seen as too conservative. The article talks about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which, with Al Gore, recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for raising public awareness about global warming.

Like most reasonable folks, Ive been impressed with the work of the IPCC. Yet according to the AP story, two well-respected independent organizations Center for Strategic International Studies and Center for a New American Security just released a report comparing the past two decades of IPCC predictions with what actually occurred. The report found that IPCCs climate change forecasts consistently fell short of what really happened. You can find the full spiel at

Is the IPCC too conservative? Given the eagerness of industry and its apologists to discredit the scientific communitys integrity on global warming, it is understandable that the IPCC might be overly cautious so as not to risk being labeled alarmist. But if anything, it appears that IPCCs assessment of both the depth and speed of climate change doesnt go far enough.

Which means . . . we need action, and we need it now!

And action were getting on many fronts, including the Johnson County Board of Health. Board chairperson, Paul Deaton, recently sent a letter to other Iowa board of health officials saying, I am writing to ask you to consider the health effects of global warming and the negative impact of existing and proposed coal fired power plants on public health in our communities. The letter specifically calls for action to oppose the construction of new coal-fired plants in Marshalltown and Waterloo.

Deaton had earlier written to Governor Culver, but was not satisfied with the response. So Deaton and his colleagues are encouraging local health officials across Iowa and us, the general public, to put pressure on Culver to take a stand. We need to let the Governor and Iowa lawmakers know that merely doing more good stuff i.e., conservation, wind, geothermal, biomass, etc. is not enough. If we are to wrestle this climate-change bear to the ground, weve got to stop doing the bad stuff as well,. And that means, first and foremost, a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants.

To read the full text of Deatons most recent communiqus, go to our website and click on Information and then Global Warming.

Regarding the proposed coal-fired plant in Marshalltown, its important to generate significant turnout for an Iowa Utilities Board public hearing on January 14. The hearing begins at 10:00 a.m., and it will be held at the Iowa Veterans Home in Whitehall Auditorium, 1301 Summit Street in Marshalltown. For more information, visit

Also, Physicians for Social Responsibility and other citizens groups are in the early stages of planning a public meeting involving state lawmakers sometime the week of January 14. As plans develop, visit the groups website for further details at This could be an important opportunity to bring the message home to lawmakers and the Governor that the next legislative session must take a stand on new coal-fired plants.

I know this is a lot to take in, but . . . one more item: I serve on the states Climate Change Advisory Council. Our first meeting went well. We adopted 1990 as our base year for measuring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. (MidAmericas representative to the Council was the only no vote.) Unanimously, we identified four target years for developing greenhouse gas reduction scenarios 2012, 2020, 2040 and 2050. And on an 11 6 vote, we established greenhouse gas reduction targets of 50% and 80%.

The next meeting of the Climate Change Advisory Council is December 17 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. in the Rogalski Center at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, and the public is welcome to attend.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check the home page of our website for upcoming events.

Ed Fallon

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