A pair of candidates for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States touched on their suggested fixes for the climate crisis during stops in Dubuque.
Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney, of Maryland, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, of Ohio, looked, in part, to economics to stem human contributions to the climate crisis from carbon emissions.
Delaney wants to create a whole new industry around direct-air carbon capture.
“These are vacuums that suck CO2 out of the atmosphere,” he told the Telegraph Herald. “These are proven technologies. The National Academy of Sciences just did a review of them. They work. The problem is they’re sub-scale and they’re expensive. But that’s because there’s no market.”
Delaney said, however, that people used to say the same thing about wind and solar energy.
“But we created a market for them,” he said. “I’m going to create a market, have the government pay people to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere at the lowest price. That will drive a huge amount of innovation. I’m going to locate all that in the heartland by something called the Carbon Throughway.”
Delaney envisions pipelines laid along existing natural gas lines to avoid new right-of-ways.
He also wants to create a carbon tax to fund services for the taxpayer, create a Climate Corps and increase the budget for the U.S. Department of Energy fivefold for research into batteries and transmission technology.
Ryan wants to use the Oval Office to encourage a boom in the electric vehicle market, including batteries and charging stations.
That, he said, would align the environmental incentives with the financial incentives.
“If we don’t tap into the best aspect of the free enterprise system, we’re making a huge mistake,” Ryan said. “If we want to get this thing turned around, let people start making money off it. Our job is to say, ‘You’re going to treat your workers well. They’re going to be cut in on the deal.’ We’ll incentivize that with the tax code.”
Ryan also said encouraging regenerative agriculture is a crucial step, both in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change effects.
“What we’ve done in the last 40 years in the U.S. is we’ve destroyed our soil,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons we see so much flooding because we’ve taken all the organic materials out of the soil. The soil has become almost solid, so the water comes in and just runs off, puts the nitrogen into the river. In the Great Lakes we get algae blooms. We kill 220 metric tons of fish in the Gulf of Mexico every year.”
Increasing organic material in the soil could alleviate many of those problems. But farmers would want help with the buy-in.
“By getting the carbon in the soil — through cover crops and all kinds of techniques they have — you start to build the soil out,” he said. “It becomes more porous, holds more water, becomes more resilient to flooding and to drought. What I will do is pay farmers to increase the carbon in their soil.”
Ryan also wants to bolster government agencies to educate and implement these programs.
ISENHART PETITIONS LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
Iowa Rep. Chuck Isenhart, D-Dubuque, has his eye on climate change mitigation as well.
This week, he sent a letter to leaders of the Iowa Legislative Council, which meets a few months after each legislative session to make plans for interim committee work ahead of the next. Isenhart asked leadership to form two study committees.
One would evaluate “effects of evolving atmospheric conditions and weather patterns on agriculture,” and recommend action to the governor and lawmakers. The second would investigate de-carbonization technologies, systems and practices, and again make recommendations.
“Some of what we have experienced in the flooding has had impacts on almost every county in Iowa,” Isenhart told the Telegraph Herald. “That’s something we need to be proactive on and make some moves so we’re not always so reactive. We need to start with impacts to agriculture, but obviously the impacts are much broader.”
These, like all council committees, would be bipartisan and bicameral.
Iowa Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, sits on the legislative council and said Isenhart’s request has a tough road ahead since it wasn’t tied to a passed bill.
“If they weren’t part of any legislation passed by both houses and signed by the governor, he’s going to have a tough time getting a committee put together,” she said.
Isenhart acknowledged this. He said he’d be “unexpectedly pleased” if his requests were answered with action. But he has some environmental allies on the council.
Neither Iowa Rep. Lee Hein, R-Monticello, or Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan, responded to requests seeking comment for this story.
ILLINOIS DELEGATION WANTS DISASTER RELIEF
The entire bipartisan delegation of federal lawmakers for the state of Illinois joined to urge the USDA to honor the state’s request for disaster declaration for farmland devastated by ongoing flooding.
“On behalf of affected Illinois farmers, we respectfully request that you issue a Secretarial Disaster Declaration and that USDA disaster loans and emergency funding be offered to eligible counties that have been hurt by these catastrophic weather events,” members wrote in the release.
7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dubuque County Fire Training Center, 14928 Public Safety Way — Isenhart will hold a discussion about medical marijuana in Iowa.