Archive for March 13, 2010
HF2399: Iowa's Stifling of Innovation
by Paul Deaton
assertions and arguments are bought and sold by MidAmerican Energy and
the electric utilities, reflecting their power to persuade.”
The nuclear power study bill, HF2399, sped through the Iowa legislature at breakneck speed, passing the Iowa House on March 2 with a vote of 91-7 and passing the Iowa Senate on March 9 with a vote of 37-13. It is “an act requiring (among other things) certain rate regulated public utilities to undertake analyses of and preparation for the possible construction of low carbon emitting nuclear generating facilities in this state.” There were no amendments to the house bill in the senate, so the measure will be heading to the Governor Culver’s desk soon. While Culver has an option to veto the bill, MidAmerican Energy wrote the bill language and was a financial supporter of the Culver-Judge campaign, so he is expected to sign HF2399 into law. The majority rules and powerful interests persuade in politics. I am okay with that because in the end, what choice do we have?
What is disappointing is not that the bill passed or that the legislature sees nuclear power as a viable part of Iowa’s energy future. Where the legislators fell short is in their vision about Iowa’s future. This bill is not only about electricity generation.
Senator Behn of Boone County typified the vapidity of the bill’s supporters. Behn said, “Iowa needs coal. Iowa needs nuclear. HF2399 is one of the best bills we will run this session.” Senator Hartsuch of Scott County asserted that the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada site would be a “workable solution” for nuclear waste disposal. Senator Feenstra of Sioux County said that “we shouldn’t bury our head in the sand, we need baseload energy,” asserting that Iowa should work with President Obama, increasing the baseload of electricity generated from nuclear power. These assertions and arguments are bought and sold by MidAmerican Energy and the electric utilities, reflecting their power to persuade. Proponents of the bill had the votes, and were not listening to the arguments of progressives like Senators Bolkcom and Hogg when they argued for a different and better view of Iowa’s future. The majority damned Senator Hogg’s amendments with faint praise.
It is easy to understand why young Iowans are leaving the state in droves. We can see the lack of innovation when our elected officials support a de facto tax to fund a study that offers no long term solutions to Iowa’s problems. We can see the lack of creativity when a majority of legislators fund a study that will create few jobs in Iowa and walk away from the potential of creating new jobs related to meeting the demand for electricity. The majority that supported HF2399 is divided along ideological lines, not party lines.
Why would young people stake their future on a state where the prevailing attitude is one of stifling what is best about being young? The failure of this legislature to foster innovation and creativity in addressing Iowa’s challenges is one more reason for people to seek better opportunities elsewhere. It is one more example of the harshness of living in the post-Reagan era.
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. He is also a member of Iowa Physicians for
Social Responsibility and Veterans for Peace. E-mail Paul Deaton
Call and ask Governor Culver to stop the legislature from stifling creativity and innovation in Iowa by vetoing HF 2399. His phone # is 515-281-5211.