Sunrise reflecting on lake


Climate change presents a steep challenge for rural America. Fortunately, rural communities are full of people who are committed to addressing climate change. We strive to support a strong sense of stewardship by supporting common-sense actions to mitigate this global problem which can present dire local impacts for rural America.

Rural, small town, and tribal communities are already experiencing the impacts of climate change and are a critical part of any potential solution. We work alongside rural Americans, small business owners, farmers and ranchers, community leaders, and young people to advocate for measures that address climate change and create new opportunities in rural places.

As we work to reduce carbon emissions, we advocate for investments in renewable energy, more efficient use of energy in our daily lives, and agricultural practices which sequester carbon. Meanwhile, we assist in amplifying the voices of rural Americans so they are heard in national conversations about climate change.

Rural Americans are having the difficult conversations and committing to do their part in addressing climate change, and we’re proud to stand with them.

Resources & Publications

Sample Letters to the Editor

Writing a Letter to the Editor is an excellent way to spread the word about the impacts of climate change and the need to take common-sense actions to create a brighter future for your family and your community. A LTE is also one way to join the ranks of the Rural Climate Stewards! Below you'll find some sample letters. If you need help writing and placing an LTE, the Center for Rural Affairs would be happy to help!

1. I’m an accountant and also active in local charities. I see waste and inefficiency firsthand every day, and so I want to see tax money being better spent, and costs paid by those responsible, not by individuals. It’s the only fair way.

In 2012 alone, our country spent more than $140 billion responding to extreme weather, with every taxpayer shelling out about $1,100 to foot that bill. For perspective, that’s more than we spent on education in the U.S. in 2012. At a time when everyone is crying out about wasteful spending, it seems like we should take measures to be proactive in diminishing costs to the taxpayer.

These costs get passed on to us in other ways as well, as food prices are estimated to rise by 2.5 to 3.5% in 2014. We need to embrace proactive measures that will help our communities adapt to changes in climate, and help diminish the costs from extreme weather in the longterm. Using common sense means, we can address extreme weather and its consequences, not just clean up after it.

2. I’m a retired farmer and avid bird hunter, with children and grandchildren living in the area. I’m  concerned that my children won’t get to experience the beauty of creation because we are spoiling it.

Coal-fired power plants pump a significant amount of pollution into the air and water, with coal plants across the country producing more than 386,000 tons of hazardous pollution each year. Many are also ripe for retirement, or exploit loopholes to avoid limits on the pollution they produce.

Continuing to let these plants pollute puts the natural resources we value and even depend upon at serious risk. We’ve already seen serious complications from accidents involving coal waste, endangering our air and water, while extreme and changing weather threatens the livelihood of our communities. We need common-sense solutions to these problems, like limiting the pollution of these existing power plants, and working to fix the harm they have done so far.

3. I’m a “millennial” who has decided to live in the country to pursue the good life. I am concerned with chronic diseases in my own generation, and I’m worried about my future children.

Carbon pollution isn’t just a threat to our land, air, and water; but also to our health. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, air pollution claimed 7 million lives worldwide in 2012, identifying air pollution as the world’s single biggest environmental health risk. Carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemicals that are often produced by coal plants and released into the air in the form of vapors or fine particulates have a dramatic affect on brain development in children.

We have to take steps to reduce this pollution, for the good of local communities and all of mankind. One step we can take is to limit the carbon pollution that power plants in the U.S. are allowed to produce. This is a common sense measure that we can take immediately, and that will begin to improve the health of families across the country and across the globe.

4. I am a mother of two, and making sure that my community is the best place for my family is important. That takes funding for schools and public services, which requires us as a state to have our spending priorities straight.

According to the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, Iowa currently receives about 27% of its energy from wind generation, ranking 1st in per capita generation. I am so proud of the fact that we power 1.4 million homes with clean wind energy. Iowa still spends $193 million on coal imported from outside the state, but I know that forthcoming limits on carbon pollution will help reverse that trend, instead keeping millions of dollars at home while protecting our air.

Wind energy investments also create economic benefits through landlease payments for landowners, which average to about $10,000 per turbine each year. Construction of those turbines and associated parts also create thousands of jobs in Iowa. For me, new revenue from property taxes, which funds fire and police departments, schools, infrastructure, and other public services, makes it clear that wind energy is a common sense solution for our small towns.

Click through this interactive map to read more about climate leaders and resources for building climate resiliency.