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Thinking about the Des Moines Water Works Lawsuit and the History of Drainage

In March 2015, Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) filed a lawsuit against three Iowa drainage districts because of nitrate problems in Des Moines drinking water supplies. It alleges the nitrates have leached out of farm fields, through drainage district tiles, and ended up in the city’s drinking water supply. In July, the water utility reported […]

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How Does Changing Ethanol Capacity Affect Local Corn Basis?

Over the past decade, the United States has experienced a dramatic boom in ethanol production. The rapid expansion of ethanol was largely driven by the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), first introduced in 2005, which mandates that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel are produced per year by 2022, 15 billion gallons of which can come […]

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Growing a Sustainable Biofuel Economy: Part 1

The Environmental Appeal of Second-Generation Biofuels Second-generation biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks that were until recently thought to be always “five years away,” are now being produced commercially. In 2014, about 18 million gallons were produced, which was substantially higher than the 432,000 gallons produced in 2013. Poet-DSM and Abengoa are two of the refineries that […]

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How can we preserve the Monarch butterfly?

After disastrously low numbers last year, the butterfly count released earlier this week finds that monarch buttery numbers are up at their overwintering site in central Mexico. Each fall, millions of butterflies from east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to a handful of mountain tops in central Mexico where they find the unique climatic conditions […]

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Exploring the Environmental Regulation of Agriculture: Accounting for Weather

A previous article opened a discussion on the general challenges with regulating agriculture; this article continues that discussion along with the focus on water quality issues and nutrient losses. Both the farmer and the regulator stand in a similar position: the farmer prefers not to lose nutrients from the fields where they are intended to […]

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Managing Environmental Uncertainty Created by Global Warming

Scientists agree: the Earth is warming. Efforts are under way to cut greenhouse gas emissions and hence reduce the warming that occurs in the next hundred years. However, some warming is likely to occur even with major policy changes and greenhouse gas reductions. Overall, this means that average temperatures will increase, oceans will rise, damaging […]

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Exploring Environmental Regulation of Agriculture

Recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grabbed attention when it attempted to clarify the Clean Water Act by defining the term “waters of the United States.” Many in agriculture have raised concerns about the definition and how it would impact farming and property owners, adding a new chapter to the long-running debate regarding environmental […]

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