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Iowa’s critical role in improving Gulf

Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 11:11 a.m. CDT

On Earth Day, as the legislative session is winding down, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at part of our environment distant from Iowa, but still important to us, our oceans.  Iowa is playing a critical role in improving the condition of the Gulf of Mexico with our  nutrient reduction strategy.

The expanse of underwater real estate controlled by the United States is remarkable. All told, the oceans under U.S. control are 25 percent larger than the entire nation’s landmass. America’s ocean realm is rich in ecological value with untold species of fish and plants that call it home.

Our ocean communities are also a major part of American life. More than half the U.S. population lives in coastal communities, and more than 180 million people visit our shores for recreation each year.

Healthy oceans are critical to a healthy American economy. Tens of thousands of jobs in fishing, recreation and tourism rely on clean beaches and a safe, swimmable ocean. While the ocean may seem far removed from the impacts of humans, recent activities serve as a constant reminder of our influence. Oil spills, such as Exxon-Valdez and Deepwater Horizon, do tremendous harm to ocean ecosystems. While oil spills may be the most visual form of pollution threatening the ocean, they are only one threat.

Pollution in the form of wastewater and runoff from our land impacts coastal systems and traces can even be found far from shore. The over-use of nitrogen fertilizers used on crops, especially in the Midwest, contribute to a giant, hypoxia or dead zone forming at the mouth of the Mississippi River. It is critical that Iowa continue to lead the way to help correct this problem with our Nutrient Reduction Strategy.  Local farmers are participating in the program, and it’s helping the situation.

All Americans depend on the oceans and affect the oceans, regardless of where they live, even in Iowa.

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I am proud to represent Newton, Baxter, Colfax, Kellogg, Lambs Grove, Mingo, Ira, Prairie City, and Valeria.  Feel free to contact me anytime via phone at (641) 521-9260 or by email at dan.kelley@legis.iowa.gov. Please visit my website at www.electkelley.com.  ‘Friend’ me on Facebook and ‘follow’ me on Twitter.

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