MULTIMEDIA UPDATE - Iowans and Nebraskans Rally for a Coal-Free Future Outside Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting

OMAHA, Neb., May 11, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Iowans and Nebraskans joined together for a coal-free future rally outside the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha on Saturday, May 6. Numerous organizations hosted the rally, including the Iowa Environmental Council, Sierra Club, Great Plains Action Society and the Clean Up MidAm Coalition.

“It’s past time investors put their money where their talking points are,” said Kerri Johannsen, Energy Program Director with the Iowa Environmental Council. “Utilities owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy are some of the top coal burners in the country, doubling down on expensive fossil fuels in Iowa and throughout the country, with no plan to quit. That’s not just a threat to the future of any number of industries that rely on a stable climate, it’s reckless investment.”

Berkshire Hathaway operates one of the largest fleets of coal plants in the nation. According to the “Benchmarking Air Emissions” report, Berkshire Hathaway Energy had the fourth-highest CO2 emission  among electric power producers in the U.S. while generating the ninth-most electricity. Two large coal units operated by Berkshire's MidAmerican Energy Company in Council Bluffs, IA sit across the river from Omaha, and Iowa and Nebraska residents have been impacted by the pollution.

In Iowa alone, the Berkshire coal plants operated by MidAmerican Energy lead to 90 premature deaths according to Sierra Club’s recent “Out of Control: The Deadly Impact of Coal Plant Pollution” report. In addition, MidAmerican’s coal plants lead to $145 million in increased healthcare costs for Iowans according to the EPA CO-Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) screening tool (shown in IEC’s 2021 Condition of the State report). 

“There was a time when MidAmerican Energy was a national leader on clean energy and climate. We believe that kind of leadership is possible again, but only if there is a plan in place for the company to move entirely away from coal by 2030,” said Katie Rock, Iowa Campaign Representative for Sierra Club Beyond Coal. “Those who call Iowa and Nebraska home deserve clean air and water and a healthy and prosperous future. It’s time for Berkshire Hathaway to step up.”

During the rally, the Great Plains Action Society performed a round dance, which is aimed at helping to bring Native communities together and raise awareness about how the coal pollution is impacting their communities. 

“Berkshire Hathaway’s coal plants in Iowa, owned and operated by MidAmerican Energy, are polluting both our air and our water, causing immense harm to our surrounding communities and to our relative, the Missouri River,” said Sikowis Nobiss, Executive Director at Great Plains Action Society. “Across the country, Indigenous communities and other communities of color often bear a disproportionate impact of pollution.”

In addition to the rally, representatives from the organizations attended the shareholder meeting in hopes of asking a question about the future of Berkshire’s coal operations.

The Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) is the state's largest and most comprehensive environmental alliance, comprised of diverse organizations and individuals working together to protect Iowa's natural environment. Through education, advocacy and coalition building, the Council raises awareness, generates action, and creates large-scale change. We work on federal, state, and local public policy issues to ensure a just, healthy environment and sustainable future for all Iowans. Learn more at

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit

The Clean Up MidAm campaign is a coalition of organizations, including the Iowa Environmental Council, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Clean Energy Districts of Iowa, Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, the Sierra Club, Moms Clean Air Force, Great Plains Action Society and countless Iowans who care about our future. Learn more at

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

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