By Alyssa Corkery 

If we want to make a difference in the struggle against climate change, the need for pro-environment legislation surrounding plastic cannot be overstated. In June, roughly fifty Iowans gathered via zoom with Iowa IPL and an assembled panel to discuss the threat that plastic poses to our world. The discussion took place after the panel attendees and around an additional fifty viewers who were not present at the panel, were able to watch the documentary, The Story of Plastic. If you are interested in watching the panel discussion, you can view it here, on the Iowa Interfaith Power and Light’s YouTube Channel. 

 The documentary and the panel discussion very clearly displayed our need as a society to cut down on plastic production, consumption, and pollution. It is not enough to consume plastic-heavy products and packaging and then hope that it can all be recycled after we use it once. We must push companies to be more responsible to the Earth and its inhabitants by limiting plastic and replacing it with environmentally friendly packaging. Reducing our production of plastic means that less natural resources will be destroyed or contaminated by drilling, fracking, and transportation of oil and natural gas, as well as reducing how much plastic ends up in our oceans, rivers, and landfills. 

In order for these changes to occur, we need legislators to recognize the harm that plastic and its production causes and be willing to write and support legislation that will put people and our planet before special interests and big companies. In Iowa, we need to demand that our representatives take this seriously, because if there are pro-environment bills that are introduced in Des Moines, they are often ignored and left to die. 

An example of this includes Representative Isenhart’s bill (House File 432) that would require an environmental impact assessment be completed before companies are given a permit to construct a “hazardous liquid pipeline” such as a natural gas pipeline. If this bill were passed, companies would have to prove that there would be minimal negative environmental impacts from the pipeline before they were permitted to build said pipeline. This bill would encourage oil and natural gas companies to conduct their businesses as eco-consciously as possible and would hopefully limit the number of pipelines constructed. As a result, the bill was sent to the Iowa House of Representatives’ Committee for Commerce in February of 2019 and has not been touched since. If nothing is done with it by February of 2021, the bill will effectively be killed. 

Isenhart’s bill is the type of legislation we need to see more of, and we need to see more representatives who are willing to support the environment and the struggle against the climate crisis. Though the legislature is currently out of session, it is important that we remain in contact with our representatives to tell them how important combatting the climate crisis is to us. Many companies will not make the necessary planet-saving changes until they are forced or incentivized to do so, that is where legislation comes in, and that is where our responsibility to participate in democracy lays.

You can learn more about who your representatives are and how to contact them by searching your address or zip code on this website. It will provide you the options to look at your local, state, and federal representatives. From there they provide links and contact information towards the right of their name. The Iowa Legislature website can also help you find your state representatives as well as provide information on Iowa’s legislative process and how to track a bill. For additional information on how to contact your representatives about the Climate Crisis on multiple platforms, such as email, social media, or over the phone, check out the National Priorities Project’s website

Alyssa Corkery is an Iowa Interfaith Power & Light Called to Climate Change student originally from Jesup, Iowa and attends Loras College where she is majoring in Sociology and Religious Studies.