Axne: Iowa’s work on carbon, renewable energy points to next farm bill

By: - September 1, 2021 12:16 pm
Iowa is one of the nation's top producers of wind energy. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa should build on renewable energy as a way to fight climate change, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne said Sept. 1, 2021. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa will be at the center of efforts to use plantings to sweep carbon from the air and to build on renewable energy as the next farm bill approaches in 2023, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne said Wednesday. 

Major pandemic-relief funds from the federal government also make this a good time to act on climate change issues, Axne said during an online event arranged by the Iowa Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Fund. 

“This is a great opportunity for us to look at things holistically and to really make sure that we made our mark when it comes to agriculture and impacting climate,” Axne, D-3rd District, said.

Axne said the work of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, now in his second stint as U.S. agriculture secretary, will add to what was already a “progressive” agenda under President Joe Biden and the Democratically controlled House and Senate.

Paying farmers to help fight climate change

Some of that work will explore more fully ways to pay farmers who are willing to use some land for plantings that sweep carbon from the atmosphere. That would help ease climate change, she said. There is more serious talk of “climate banks” and carbon credits, she added.

“We are looking at things within Financial Services (Committee) like the National Climate Bank Act that I’m a supporter of and an original co-sponsor,” Axne said. The legislation would set up a National Climate Bank to invest in green energy technologies and infrastructure. 

Financial Services also is considering a bill to tell business owners the risks they face from climate change, Axne said. 

In response to a question, Axne said she will continue to support tax credits for renewable energy projects. “We have a ton of opportunity here in Iowa to do more solar and we should do more wind as well,” she said.

Axne also said plans to send carbon dioxide underground as a compressed liquid also would help. There are at least two proposals for pipelines in Iowa to transport emissions from biofuels plants and other facilities to other states.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ carbon sequestration task force is looking at that type of technology as one way to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.

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