Saturday News, November 16
Environmental Protection Agency Reduces RFS - Ethanol Production To Be Reduced
(Des Moines) -- The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday it plans to reduce the number of gallons required for the Renewable Fuels Standard for the year 2014. The reaction from Monte Shaw, the executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, is the E.P.A. just handed the petrolieum industry an early Christmas present.
In addition to creating an extra-legal waiver mechanism, the proposal lowers the “corn ethanol” level from 13.8 billion gallons in 2013 to only 13 billion gallons in 2014. The proposal also freezes the biodiesel level at 1.28 billion gallons despite the fact the biodiesel industry is currently operating at an annualized rate of 2 billion gallons.
The ethanol industry official believes there is still enough consumer support for the ten percent blended fuel, but he is concerned about the marketing of higher blends of ethanol, such as the 85 percent that can be used for flex fuel vehicles.
This past week the Associated Press wrote a scathing article about ethanol. Shaw says he doesn't believe the article will have long term negative effects upon the biofuels industry, but he questions what the reaction will be toward agriculture.
Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds today vowed to join agricultural groups, family farmers and all Iowans in fighting for renewable fuels in light of the misguided and dumbfounding decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lower the volumes of renewable fuels utilized on America’s streets and highways. Branstad stated in a release that it is 'baffling" to him and he cannot understand why President Obama would side with the big oil companies over Iowa's homegrown renewable fuels. Branstad says "the EPA has turned its back on rural America, and our economy and family farms will suffer as a result".
Brandstad further stated that Iowa has more than 50 ethanol and biodiesel plants in the state and the EPA reductions would negatively impact thousands of Iowa jobs. Branstad says the debate is not over and he encourages Iowans to officially comment to the EPA.
Branstad Hears Comments From State Agencies Regarding Budget
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is starting a series of public budget hearings to get input from state department heads.
Branstad on Friday heard from several departments, including Iowa Veterans Affair, the Iowa Board of Parole and the Iowa Public Defender. The departments spoke about budget needs for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, as well as their ongoing goals.
Branstad says he will take further department testimony and hear from the public before he finalizes a budget plan.
Branstad will present a spending plan to the Iowa Legislature in January. The current budget includes about $6.2 billion in general fund spending.
Northwestern Student Organizes Benefit For Phillippines
ORANGE CITY, Iowa—Tec Sun, a Northwestern College senior who grew up in the Philippines, is organizing a benefit concert to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. The concert is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hub in the Rowenhorst Student Center. The $2 entrance fee will include unlimited coffee and fountain drinks. The event will feature performances by Sun, the Usual Suspects, This Much, Nayely Becerra, Amalia Vasquez and more. Sun will also accept freewill donations during the concert.
The tropical storm struck the central Philippines on Nov. 7, causing colossal damage to the island country. The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan (named Yolanda by Philippine authorities) resulted in a death toll of over 2,000 and has left hundreds of thousands of citizens displaced. With little access to food, clean drinking water or shelter, residents are relying heavily on aid provided by other countries.
Sun, a music ministry major, has taken this call to aid on a more personal level. “I was born and raised in the Philippines,” says Sun. “My dad is a pastor and a missionary from Korea. I attended Faith Academy in Manila, where a lot of missionaries’ children go.” Sun’s parents, who reside in Quezon City, and family friends continue to serve as missionaries in the Philippines.
Northwestern and Dordt Tied For First Place For Best Colleges For Veterans
ORANGE CITY, Iowa—A new U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for Military Veterans ranking has Northwestern College tied with Dordt College for first place among Midwestern regional colleges. Also among the top 15 institutions, representing eight states, are Hastings College, third; Clarke University, fifth; Mt. Marty College, 11th; Grand View University, 12th; and Midland University, 14th.
The ranked colleges participate in federal initiatives that help veterans and active service members apply, pay for and complete their degrees. All the schools are part of the Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) Consortium, certified for the G.I. Bill, and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. The qualifying institutions are ranked in order based on their 2014 U.S. News Best College ranking, of which Northwestern tied for sixth in the Midwest.
Judge Declares Mistrial As Jury Undecided On Murder Case Involving Pregnant Woman
MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (AP) - A judge has declared a second mistrial for a former Iowa jail guard accused of fatally shooting his pregnant wife.
Judge Daniel Wilson granted the mistrial Friday after a Henry County jury deadlocked in the trial of Seth Techel. Jurors told the judge that further deliberations wouldn't lead to a verdict, and the defense motioned for a mistrial.
Techel's first trial ended in a mistrial in March after another jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Techel is charged with first-degree murder in the May 2012 death of his wife, Lisa Techel.
Prosecutors argued Seth Techel killed his wife to be with another woman. Defense attorneys focused attention on whether a former neighbor, who's now deceased, was a better suspect.
Planned Parenthood To Close Clinics
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is announcing the closure of four Iowa clinics.
The organization says Friday it will close centers in Ankeny, Fort Dodge, Mount Pleasant and Washington effective Dec. 12.
Board Chairman Bob Shaw says in a statement the closures reflect an effort to "focus our limited resources where our patients are located." Less than 10 percent of Planned Parenthood's Iowa patients visited those four centers.
After the closure, Planned Parenthood will operate 16 Iowa centers. The organization provides a variety of reproductive health care services, including abortions at some locations.
Responding to the closures, Jenifer Brown, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, says "not only are the lives of the unborn safer when they leave, but so are the lives of the women seeking their services."
Organizers Try To Save Courthouse
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Community organizers trying to save one of Iowa's oldest county courthouses are criticizing how city leaders have handled the promotion and funding for a new building.
Friends of the Mitchell County Courthouse and the Mitchell County Historic Preservation Association say the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors did not properly communicate with them about their final plans to tear down the courthouse. In the end, it's unclear how the county will pay for the new building.
That's because voters turned down a measure Nov. 5 that would have sold $7.2 million in general obligation bonds to pay for a new building. It's the second time the measure has been shot down.
Supervisors may try for the vote again in six months. In the meantime, the old courthouse is coming down.