Industrial solar would take agricultural land out of production


A wind turbine and solar panels are seen on a farm in the Monticello countryside in 2018 (Rebecca F. Miller / The Gazette)

Energy giants like Florida’s NextEra Energy and Idaho’s Clenera Energy are aiming to replace thousands of acres of farmland and wildlife habitat in Linn County with solar panels. If Industrial Solar is allowed to expand in Iowa, it will have a devastating impact on the United States, as Iowa ranks first for corn production, second for soybean production, first for pork production. , first for egg production and fourth in beef export value. These products feed our country and keep our economy strong through agricultural exports to other countries. Iowa produces three of the top five agricultural exports from the United States

Additionally, Iowa leads the nation in ethanol and biodiesel production. Ethanol and biodiesel are renewable fuels that reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and prevent national crises such as tthe 1979 oil crisis that crippled US transportation and demanded gasoline rationing in several parts of the United States In 2019, the United States oil dependency on foreign oil was 4 percent, it would have been 10 percent without the production of ethanol. Iowa agriculture and allied industries provide 20 percent of employmentis in Iowa. The ethanol industry alone is cited with p200,000 jobs in the United States and Iowa leads the United States in ethanol production.

Industrial Solar is replacing farmland and wildlife habitat. It starts with leveling the job site for optimized drainage and disrupts or removes topsoil. It was during this construction phase that only half an inch of rain turned the Rappahannock River – which feeds the Chesapeake Bay – brown into a 200 acre solar project. Mmetal piles are driven 20 to 80 feet into the ground, perforating topsoil, clay and sand, and potentially limestone; by bypassing these natural filters and providing a direct path for surface water to enter natural aquifers that provide drinking water.

The proposed Duane Arnold solar project in Linn County sits directly on the Cedar River and could increase the risk of flooding that devastated Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities in 2008. Industrial solar would offset the renewable and green contributions of the ethanol and biodiesel. Biofuels have the potential to offset greenhouse gas emissions by over 100% compared to fossil fuels, as plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen as they grow.

NextEra Energy of Florida is proposing to convert 3,500 acres of farmland in Linn County to Industrial Solar. In past projects, NextEra violated local ordinances and did not follow the construction plan it filed with NextEra’s Vermont Industrial Solar Project. Please contact the Linn County Supervisory Board and oppose this project.

Ted and Julie Hoffmann live in the countryside of Palo.

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