U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse plans Iowa visit; wants climate change as 2016 caucus issue

Source: Written by William Petroski, Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, said Wednesday he plans a trip to Iowa this month, hoping to make climate change an issue in the 2016 Iowa presidential caucuses.

Whitehouse, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, is coming to Iowa at the invitation of state Sen. Robert Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, who has written a book about the impacts of climate change. Whitehouse plans stops in Des Moines and Shenandoah, and will also visit Omaha, Neb.

“Climate change threatens Rhode Island coasts and Iowa farmlands alike, and I look forward to this opportunity to talk to rural Americans about the threats they face,” Whitehouse said in a statement issued by his office. “I also realize that in order to advance serious climate change legislation in Congress, we need to make climate change a major topic in the 2016 presidential race. Iowa, with its first-in-the-nation caucuses, is in a unique position to drive the debates in that race.

“While I myself will not be running for president – and fully expect to support Hillary Clinton if she chooses to run – I do hope that by visiting Iowa now and meeting with local activists and journalists, I can help put the issue of climate change at the front of their minds as the 2016 race takes shape.”

Whitehouse is scheduled to make three appearances on March 18 in Des Moines. This will include a public presentation at 9:15 a.m. at the Iowa Capitol; and an appearance at a business roundtable on climate change and clean energy at 3 p.m. the University of Iowa Pappajohn Center at 1200 Grand Ave. He will speak at 7:15 p.m. the same day the Izaak Walton League-Des Moines Chapter at 4343 George Flagg Parkway.

Details on other events haven’t been released, but they are expected to include a stop at BioProcess Algae in Shenandoah. The company is based in Rhode Island but operates a demonstration plant in Shenandoah where it uses carbon waste dioxide from a nearby ethanol plant to produce algae that is used in animal feed. The company has received Department of Energy funds to produce advanced biofuels from algae as well.