As one of the central themes of his administration, Chet Culver pushed Iowans to create a green government. On Monday, Governor Terry Branstad removed some of the last vestiges of this ill-fated effort.
In Executive Order 79, Governor Branstad repealed a number of executive orders from previous administrations. Among these were central features of the Culver Administration. Executive Order 6 by then-Governor Culver created the “Green Government Initiative,” a push to create a more-environmentally-friendly government. The order directed state agencies within the Executive branch to establish Green Government Coordinators, who would be responsible to reduce negative environmental impacts in state government. The Initiative became a key activity of the Office of Energy Independence, which was responsible for staffing the Initiative and its numerous task forces.
In repealing Executive Order 6, Governor Branstad cited the fact that the Initiative’s steering committee, advisory committee, and task forces were no longer meeting. He also could have pointed out that the net result of the Green Government Initiative was the creation of a lot of committees across Iowa government pushing for the purchase of high-priced green products and thus increasing the cost of government to taxpayers.
Another green order that was repealed was Executive Order 17. This order dealt with the leasing and construction of government offices. In the order, Culver stated that “the conflict of environmental quality and economic activity put Iowa’s rich soil and other environmental resources at risk, and create the need for appropriately sited and designed development.” His order directed that when the state was building or leasing space, first consideration had to be given to historic properties offered within cultural or entertainment districts. If such space was not available in such a district, then state agencies were to give next consideration to historic properties in other areas.
When Executive Order 17 was issued in September of 2009, some questioned if Culver’s intention was not to build environmentally-friendly office space, but instead was to help fill the rental properties of prominent supporters of his re-election campaign. In repealing this, Governor Branstad took the action because it was determined that the order did not support cost effective government.
These actions continue efforts by the Branstad administration and House Republicans to reduce regulations and lower the cost of government. While some in the green community may object, they will be hard pressed to produce evidence that either of these initiatives helped the taxpayers of Iowa.