Iowa on the Move

08/02/2007 06:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ames, IA -- The politics of global warming are heating up in Iowa. Today the Club's own Sierra Student Coalition (SSC), in partnership with the campus-based ReEnergize US, began a three-day march from Ames to Des Moines. Meanwhile, SSC organizers in New Hampshire kicked off a five-day march of their own.

Iowa was selected not only because of its role in helping pick next year's presidential candidates, but also because the state is a centerpiece of action on wind, solar power and biofuels. "We want to make sure our leaders know it's time to take action to build a clean energy economy," said David Sievers, chairman of the ReEnergize US planning committee and a senior at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. "Right now, all eyes are on Iowa because of the unique voice it has."

Meanwhile, presidential candidates are listening to the grassroots energy building around global warming and energy policy.

Bill Richardson's latest TV advertisement--one showcasing the governor's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve American energy independence--is the latest evidence that environmental issues are a presence in the presidential race. Clearly, global warming and climate change are central and unavoidable topics that are in the campaign debate to stay.

Richardson cites the Sierra Club's view of his energy plans in his ad. It's the first time our logo has been used this early in a presidential race, and (we think) the first time ever in Iowa -- all signs of how these issues are maturing. But Richardson is not alone.

In an interview with Grist, Barack Obama recently came out and made it clear that he understands that as we move to cap carbon, we need to make sure that those who pollute don't get a free ride.

John Edwards also talked to Grist this week, laying out his plans and trying to claim the leadership mantle.

And, in the YouTube debate, Hilary Clinton made a major issue of her continued opposition to nuclear waste disposal at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Right now, it is too early to say which candidate will ultimately produce the plan that is best for the environment. The race is young, and the Sierra Club is still evaluating each candidate's plan. And public opinion is still far ahead of any of the candidates -- but some of them, at least, are trying to catch up.