Nearly three decades ago, the federal government issued a somber warning. America’s scrap tires had to go somewhere without gobbling up landfill space. Billions of cast-off tires already had accumulated in ugly stockpiles and millions more were “scattered in ravines, deserts, woods, and empty lots,” sparking toxic fires that burned for months, the Environmental Protection Agency declared in a 1991 report. “As costs or difficulties of legal disposal increase, illegal dumping may increase,” the agency said. But there was hope of a solution, and the EPA was all in.
Cannabis cultivation in the United States this year will consume 1.8 million megawatt-hours of electricity, about as much as the nation’s 15,000 Starbucks stores. And next year it’ll be even more, according to a report from analytics firm New Frontier Data estimating just how much power it takes to produce the nation’s cannabis crop. Yet even as they’ve welcomed it into the regulatory fold, states legalizing cannabis so far have done little to limit or even track the huge amounts of energy needed to grow it indoors. Among the 11 states to permit recreational use of cannabis, only Massachusetts and now Illinois, which did so this week, have included energy-efficiency standards for indoor cultivation, a practice that requires nearly nonstop use of lights and various heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
One other state, Oregon, requires simply that growers estimate and then report back on their energy use. Even this small step will help regulators there and in other states to better manage an industry whose electricity demand has long been kept as hidden as its product, says report co-author Derek Smith of Resource Innovation Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes resource conservation in the cannabis industry.
Foreign investors acquired at least 1.6 million acres of agricultural land in the United States in 2016, the largest increase in more than a decade, a Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting of the latest available federal data shows.
Farmers have been using the weed killer glyphosate – a key ingredient of the product Roundup – at soaring levels even as glyphosate has become increasingly less effective and as health concerns and lawsuits mount.
Small towns around Iowa have been fighting to support themselves as rural populations continue to decline, while state government has been investing more in larger cities where the population is growing.
Small Iowa towns struggle to stay alive as people move away and others do not move in to replace them. Humeston, Iowa, with just shy of 500 people, is one of those towns.
HUMESTON, Iowa — A small group of businesses in one southern Iowa town has found a way to stay open by banding together to attract spending customers to town, rather than compete against each other. “Why not Humeston?” Leigh Ann Coffey, owner of Sweet Southern Sass, said when asked why business owners choose to open a business in a small town. This report is the result of an IowaWatch Simpson College Journalism Project involving student journalists in Simpson’s spring 2019 journalism seminar. Reporters for the project were:
The journalists worked on this story starting in January 2019 with Lyle Muller of IowaWatch and Mark Siebert, Simpson assistant professor of multimedia communication. Sweet Southern Sass, Snyder’s, Grassroots Gallery & Cafe, Snips of Thread Quilt Shop and Grampa Jims formed a group “Shop Humeston.”
Normally, Story County soybean farmer Kevin Larson said, he would resolve a dispute with a neighbor privately. Instead, he went to the Iowa Pesticide Bureau in 2017, just like a lot of other Iowans did.
A volatile weed killer linked to cancer and endocrine issues will likely be sprayed on millions more acres of soybeans and cotton across the Midwest and South starting this year. In January, China approved imports of a new genetically modified soybean variety – Enlist E3 soybeans jointly made by Corteva Agriscience, a division of DowDupont and seed company MS Technologies– that can withstand the herbicide 2,4-D. “This is great news for U.S. soybean growers,” said Joseph Merschman, president of MS Technologies in a February press release. “This announcement clears the way for even more soybean growers to experience the high-yielding elite genetics and exceptional weed control offered by the Enlist E3™ soybean system.”
DowAgrosciences declined to comment for this story. The herbicide – 2,4-D – was one of the active ingredients in Agent Orange and has been shown to drift miles away from where it’s applied.
Since the early 1980s, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has conducted a grim census, tracking reports of deaths from crashes of all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs. Now the body count has risen above 15,250, according to the agency’s latest annual report, with more than one in five of the deaths suffered by children under 16. The annual death count, which has sometimes exceeded 800, has mostly ranged from 550 to 650 in recent years. That seems like progress, but may actually be the result of riders switching to another type of off-road vehicle, called an ROV, that isn’t included in the ATV fatality reports. “The problem has not been solved,” said Rachel Weintraub, general counsel of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).
Solar Advocates Raise Questions About Iowa Group Campaigning Against Net Metering, Suspect Utility Company
Iowa clean energy advocates suspect the state’s largest utility is secretly behind a new organization claiming to represent farmers, consumers and businesses that oppose the state’s solar policies. The utility neither confirmed nor denied a role in setting up the group and a spokeswoman for MidAmerican Energy did not directly answer a question about its role in the group. But solar industry supporters said the timing and similarities in messaging suggest a link. “This group didn’t exist until the utilities, particularly MidAmerican, started pushing a bill that would decimate the distributed solar industry in Iowa,” said Josh Mandelbaum, a lawyer with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. In late January, a few weeks before the introduction of two bills that would impose new costs on solar customers, a website and Facebook page surfaced for an organization calling itself the REAL Coalition, which claims it “gives voice to Iowa consumers, farmers and businesses on the energy issues affecting our state.”
The website decries what it calls the “solar cost shift,” and urges legislators to “keep the interests of ALL your constituents in mind and vote YES” on bills moving briskly through both chambers that would impose substantial new fees on electricity customers who generate some of their own power.