Return to Nicholas Johnson's "Iowa Child" (IEEP) Web site,

This piece is copyright by Gazette Communications' KCRG-TV9. KCRG's online URL is This transcript can be found at It is reproduced here as a "fair use" for educational purposes only.

Rainforest Funding Criticized
Mike Wagner, KCRG-TV9 News Reporter
Filed Wednesday, April 7, 2004, 8:24:43 PM

[Note: The following transcription contains what appear to be typographical errors. The material as posted on the KCRG-TV9 site has been unchanged here. In a couple of places what is believed probably to have been the text is inserted in brackets. -- N.J., April 19, 2004]

The Citizens Against Government Waste says $50 million of federal funding is too much to build the Iowa Environmental Education Project.

The group claims the $180 million project slated for Coralville, will soak taxpayers.

Thomas Schatz, from Citizens Against Government Waste, says, "As we have increased deficits and debt, as we approach the deadline for Medicare to go bankrupt. Are we going to send everybody into the rainforest to get their prescription drugs? Is that where they're all going to be taken care of?"

However, developers say many skeptics have targeted the project while it went through many transformations, and location changes.

Iowa Economic Development Director Michael Blouin told TV9, "Let the skeptics say what they want now. If this thing gets built and it will be built with private investment as well as state, federal money nothing short of all three... skeptics will go away."

When you hear national groups or national reporters criticize the rainforest project they seem to take issue with two things first, the spending of $50 million in federal money.

And then there's the location which seems to draw the most attention.

Scott Carpenter is on the community advisory board. He told TV9, "There are virtually no large multiple geo-system facilities in the world today and that's also very exciting because there are very few places where you can have somewhat controlled conditions of an entire eco-system."

Researcher Scott Carpenter sees the indoor rainforest as more than just a tourism destination.

Carpenter says the site offers scientists and engineers possibilities that don't exist right now.

He says it's wrong to label the indoor rainforest a waste of tax dollars and says regardless of where it's built, it's something that needs to be done.

"It doesn't matter where the facility is. It could be in Nebraska, could be anywhere. But it's an idea to study something and to learn about it and that's a good thing. It doesn't have to be in Iowa, but why not in Iowa."

Jean Lloyd-Jones is against the rain forest. She told TV9, "The idea of putting a rainforest here is so exotic and so Alien Really to UR Eco-Systems here. That I just think it's laughable." [Probably: "The idea of putting a rainforest here is so exotic and so alien, really, to our eco-systems here that I just think it's laughable."]

Lloyd-Jones is also part of a group that's lobbied against the rainforest.

She says part of the reason people don't like it is because it seems out of place.

"I think it would be easier in a lot of other place where it would seem a little more logical. For a rainforest I think the idea of putting a rainforest in the middle of cornfields strikes most people as absurd." [Probably: "I think it would be easier in a lot of other places where it would seem a little more logical for a rainforest."]

The rainforest organizers sent out these media release Wednesday.

They point out economic impact studies have shown it will create thousands of jobs and add $187 million to the state's economy.

They also say citizen's against government waste never called them to talk about the project before putting it in this year's pork barrel report.