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 Grassley Seeks Limits to Rainforest Spending

Perry Beeman

Des Moines Register

November 9, 2005

[Note: This material is copyright by the Des Moines Register, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Des Moines Register.]

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who helped secure $50 million in federal money for a rainforest dome in Iowa, has persuaded the Senate to require rainforest backers to raise private money for the rest of the project within two years or lose the federal money.

Grassley said his initiative is aimed at generating additional resources for the Iowa Environmental Project, which is working to construct an educational rain forest in Iowa.

In 2003, Grassley secured a $50 million federal appropriation to help pay for part of the project, which has a total estimated cost of $150 to $200 million.

“I want this project to succeed because it’s a big opportunity for Iowans from start to finish." he said.

"Its construction will create jobs. When finished, it will be a tourist destination and a leading environmental education center,” Grassley said.

“However, the project will never become a reality if the majority of the funding isn’t raised from private benefactors and other sources. Until the project can demonstrate its ability to raise that money, I can’t let federal tax dollars be frittered away.”

The new Grassley language will be part of the annual appropriation for energy and water projects for fiscal year 2006. Other energy-related projects in this year’s appropriation bill are also required to match the federal dollars provided.

The $50 million for the Iowa Environmental Project was released by the U.S. Department of Energy for the rain forest project in September 2004. The project is required to file quarterly reports with the department detailing its expenditures.

Grassley’s 2005 language will prevent the Energy Department from approving all additional expenditures until matching money totaling $50 million has been raised from non–federal sources.

The most recent records available from the Iowa Environmental Project indicate that approximately $2.9 million of the $50 million federal appropriation has been spent.