Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Still no movement from LS Power

It's been a while since the last update, because not much has been happening. Community Energy Solutions has been quietly, persistently getting its message out at community meetings, at work, at church, with legislators, everywhere we all go. LS Power's proposal is bad for Waterloo, bad for Iowa, and bad for the world. We can do better.

So far, no applications have gone to the state agencies that must act on the proposal. The Waterloo Courier has published some good articles about new statements from LS Power and questioning the need for this plant. We've dug in for a long process of debate and education. When everyone has all the facts about coal plant pollution, global warming, energy alternatives, and everything else we've been researching, we're confident that the right decision will be very clear.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New Group formed to PROMOTE Plant

Community Energy Solutions Challenges New Group to Public Discussion

Community Energy Solutions, the nonprofit organization promoting a clean, efficient energy future for the Cedar Valley, has challenged Progress Cedar Valley to call for a public forum on the LS Power Plant.

"We eagerly welcome this opportunity for public discussion of our energy future," said Mark Kresowik, organizer for Community Energy Solutions. "This is a local decision – LS Power needs the City Council of Waterloo to rezone the property. We hope this new group will join us in calling for democracy, for an open forum with City officials and the public."

Representatives for the Iowa Utilities Board have stated that if the local planning agency denies zoning, the plant cannot be built. The City Council has the ability to stop this plant.

"Some say it is a 'done deal', but local elected officials have yet to come out, listen to the people and explain to the public what position they have taken so far and why," said Kamyar Enshayan, a Cedar Falls City Councilor.

Some members of Community Energy Solutions also challenged the group's claims that approval by the Department of Natural Resources meant the plant would be safe.

"We know the EPA and DNR regulate some of the pollution," said Gail Mueller, President of Community Energy Solutions. "But then why are 16 states suing the EPA for not protecting the public? And who is regulating the millions of tons of carbon dioxide that contribute to global warming?"

Sixteen states have sued the Environmental Protection Agency for mercury rules that are too lenient. Coal-fired power plants contribute 40% of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. The LS Power plant will emit the equivalent of more than 600,000 cars on the road.

"We MUST have a public discussion about the extremely exciting new advances in technology," said Renata Sack of Waterloo. "Iowa could be entirely powered by renewable energy. It is imperative that the citizens of Waterloo and Black Hawk County become educated in renewable energy sources. We cannot allow mercury and CO2 to be released into the atmosphere by new coal combustion plants."

Those promoting the economic benefits also have something to consider.

"Idaho Governor Jim Risch declared that as long as he promoted economic development the damages created by emissions from coal-fired power plants would outweigh any economic benefit. He effectively banned the construction of coal plants in Idaho. Do you really think that a few dollars is worth more than the health of our children, and grandchildren?" said Don Shatzer, Vice President of Community Energy Solutions.

Thousands of citizens do not feel that this plant represents progress for the Cedar Valley, the State of Iowa, or the United States of America. Nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition against the LS Power project.

Carrie La Seur, an attorney with Midwest Environmental Justice Advocates, said, "I have confidence that Waterloo's leaders will soon realize that coal-fired power generation is Iowa's past, not its future. I don't know how you can call this plant 'progress' for anyone."

The public, and Progress Cedar Valley, is invited to participate in the League of Women Voters Forum on the LS Power Plant on Tuesday, Sept. 26th at 7 pm in Area Education Agency 267. Community Energy Solutions is also playing host to the Green Bike Tour, www.greenbike.org, which will be coming to Washington Park in Waterloo at 10:30 am and the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at 12:15 pm on Thursday, Sept. 21st.For more information, go to http://cleanairwaterloo.com or email cleanairwaterloo@gmail.com.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Group to bike for greening of America - Metro

Group to bike for greening of America - Metro

Check out this great article in the Daily Iowan on the upcoming Green Bike Tour. It is coming to Waterloo and Cedar Falls on September 21st. Join today!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Local Process

For months, local government agencies and representatives have been telling citizens they can’t stop this plant. We now know that is not true. The Iowa Utilities Board’s attorneys have said that this project is NOT exempt from local zoning.

Below is an email from the City Planner describing the local zoning process that must take place before this plant is built. It is time to for the public to speak.

“Again, we would prefer to rezone the property to "M-2,P" Planned Industrial if it is annexed into the City of Waterloo. The "M-2,P" classification is consistent with the majority of land being rezoned in the Northeast Industrial Park area, including the Deere site, Tyson Foods, Tannery, Ferguson, etc. The Heavy Industrial designation (M-2) lists under its Principal Permitted Uses:

" A building or premises may be used for any purpose whatsoever except those listed in subparagraph 1, 2,3, and 4 below: ........ (a power plant is not listed in the subparagraphs).

Therefore, this zoning classification would work for the use of a power plant. A power plant is not otherwise listed as a permitted use in the Zoning Ordinance (as it cannot list everything).

The rezoning process is as follows:

Upon annexation, the land is, by ordinance, automatically zoned "A-1" Agricultural District. The application would need to be submitted for the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission meets once a month on the 1st Tuesday of the month. Requests are due two weeks prior to that time to allow us staff time for mailing notice, etc. The request would be mailed to all property owners within 250' of the property boundaries to be rezoned. (The next PZ meeting is Sep 12 due to holiday, with a turn-in date of Aug 29). After review by the Planning Commission, the request is forwarded to City Council. The City Council must go to a meeting and set a date of public hearing - generally 2-3 weeks after that initial meeting. At the hearing, the City Council will approve or disapprove of a request. If the Planning Commission recommends denial, or if 20% of the landowners (by area) within that 250' mailing notice area are opposed to the request, it will take a 3/4 majority of the City Council to approve the rezoning (6 out of 7 council members).”

To contact Waterloo City Councilors, click here: http://www.wplwloo.lib.ia.us/waterloo/citycouncil.html

For more information on upcoming events and ways to help, click here: http://cleanairwaterloo.com

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Merchant Coal & LS Power in the News

Check out a recent article in the online environmental news magazine Grist that tells a little more about merchant coal and the powerful interests behind it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Done Deal? Not yet...

By Kamyar Enshayan

A “Done Deal” vs. Democracy

On May 11th, a meeting was held in Waterloo regarding the proposed coal burning power plant. It was staged by the company and was attended by more than 500 people, most of whom had serious concerns about such a plant.

In the TV news account of that meeting, the news staff explained what happened at the meeting and that many questions remained unanswered. At the very end of the story, in a slip of the tongue, he said, “But it is pretty much a done deal.”

Several people wrote in and reminded that it was not a done deal at all. In fact, the company had not even filed for any permit application yet! Since then, people have asked me, “But, really, don’t you think it is a done deal?”

I would say, yes, if we lived in Afghanistan, North Korea, or China where everything is decided for you. But we are here. And here, we say we value democracy and fair decision processes that are open to citizen participation.

As it turns out, whether here or in Iran, powerful entities with greed do not like democracy, they do not want a messy participatory process that involves citizens. They do not want it in the news. They want it behind closed doors, their way. Clean and swift. There is a deeply-held, ancient anti-democratic instinct at work here.

Yes, the representatives from the absentee company that wants to build a coal burning power plant in Black Hawk county have already met with the City of Waterloo and Black Hawk County officials behind closed doors. But have the County officials and or Waterloo City officials met with the public at the early stages to explain what they are working on, why they seemed so sold on the idea, and to encourage citizen participation? Sadly, the answer is no.

For most large projects, whether a dirty coal power plant in Black Hawk County, a monster dam in China, yet another un-needed gigantic mall in Ames, or another highway through a community, a major strategy is to make it appear that it is a “done deal.” That way, citizens who otherwise would be motivated to participate will feel discouraged early on and give up getting involved altogether.

There is nothing that’s a “done deal.” None. Even the very democratic processes we seem to hold so dear as the foundation of our country can be undone and are being undone on a daily basis, nationally and locally. Most people think that democracy is something we did or got sometime ago, like July 4, 1776. Something that we secured back then and can enjoy forever. False.

As it turns out, democracy is a highly perishable thing. It needs to be nurtured very carefully. Democracy is not something we have, but something we make and remake daily. There is no way around it. As soon you relax, the entities who profit from weakening it will be at it.

Ultimately, the only lasting solution is citizens who are informed and engaged. It is up to us to root out these “done deals” and to demand open decision processes. The future of our neighborhoods, towns and the nation will depend it.

Kamyar Enshayan can be reached at Enshayan@yahoo.com.

Monday, August 14, 2006

LS Power Responds

LS Power Responds!

To read the response and our replies, click here

The Clean Air for Waterloo campaign obtained an email with responses to statements on our website from Mr. Milburn of LS Power. We have replied to those comments and posted the comments and our replies on our website (http://cleanairwaterloo.com).

This exchange, and indications from the Iowa Utilities Board that a local zoning process IS necessary for the project to proceed, have made it abundantly clear why an immediate public hearing for citizen participation is necessary. More than 3,500 Cedar Valley residents have petitioned against this plant. It is time for City and County officials to discuss the local process.

Call Mr. Hurley, the Mayor of Waterloo, at 319-291-4301 and ask him to hold a public hearing on the LS Power project and local process immediately.

Also, come to a meeting on Wednesday, August 16th at 7 pm in the Dewar Community Center (Dewar, IA) to discuss public participation in the approval process (see post below).