Student protestors hold signs during the Iowa March for Science at the Pentacrest Lawn on Saturday, April 22. The group's goal is to persuade legislators to vote based on scientific-backed research as opposed to partisan policy. (The Daily Iowan/Ben Smith)

Climate change still roiling U.S. politics

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By Madeleine Neal

madeleine-neal@uiowa.edu

In the wake of recent nationwide climate marches, one question persists: What’s next? Iowa politicians are varied in their positions.

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said he will continue to support funding that combats climate change.

“The science on climate change is settled, and I was glad to see so many folks in our nation’s capital and around the country come together to fight for commonsense, science-based solutions to this global problem,” Loebsack said in an email statement to The Daily Iowan.

In March, President Trump issued an executive order to roll back Environmental Protection Agency regulations, which inched the Trump administration closer to its campaign promise to eliminate the EPA.

In an email statement to the DI, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Trump’s proposal is just that: a proposal.

“The President proposes and Congress disposes,” Grassley said in the statement. “Congress has the power of the purse strings and always makes substantial changes to a president’s proposed budget.”

And while Congress may disagree with the president’s judgments about specific funding levels, he said, taxpayer money still needs to be spent efficiently.

“We have a responsibility to make sure taxpayer money is well-spent,” Grassley said. “And that agencies are fulfilling their missions as efficiently and economically as possible.”

According to a 2017 report from the Iowa Area Development Group, Iowa ranks first in the nation in production of ethanol, second in the nation in the production of biodiesel, and third in the nation in wind generation.

Despite leading other states in clean energy and wind energy, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said that in the future, more work can be done in terms of solar energy, such as more efficient technology, and he emphasized the issue of climate-change deniers.

“We still have way too many Republican politicians who are in denial [about climate change]. Any kind of cuts to the EPA are going to hurt the state — all the states rely on federal environmental funding,” Bolkcom said. “We have a lot of research that goes on in our public universities. [There has been] a lot of concern at the federal level of what will happen to all of that data, what the future of that data is going to be.”

Bolkcom is also concerned about the United States losing its edge in climate science.

“Trump obviously is not going to lead on this issue [climate change], neither is the Republican Congress, and neither is the Iowa Legislature,” Bolkcom said.

Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, said he believes in sustaining the U.S. edge in climate science and that it could prevent people from investing in other countries.

“[Climate denial] really gives up our country’s leadership on clean energy technologies,” he said.

In addition to maintaining competitiveness, Hogg said, cutting the clean-power plan would not only be detrimental for Iowans’ health, it would also cause Iowa to rely on what he described as old, dirty technologies, which he said could hinder job creation in Iowa’s clean-energy economy.

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