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Serving: IA

Concerned Groups File Petition to Remove IDNR Authority

Petition presented at news conference asks EPA to strip Iowa Department of Natural Resources of it's authority to issue livestock feeding permits.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Washington, D.C. based Environmental Integrity Project held a news conference in front of the offices of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on Thursday. Purpose was to announce they have filed a legal petition urging the EPA to strip the IDNR of it's authority to issue operating permits to concentrated animal feeding operations.

Specifically, the petition argues that the IDNR authority to issue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits should be revoked by EPA "because of the state of Iowa's continuing violations of the Clean Water Act and its implementing regulations." The petitioners have asked the EPA to hold a public hearing on the matter.

"We are filing this petition because livestock production in Iowa has increasingly become an industrial process, dominated by factory farms that confine thousands of hogs, chicken or cattle in large buildings," stated Vern Tigges, a farmer from Carroll, Iowa. "And for 30 years, the IDNR has not done its job in enforcing the federal Clean Water Act. Operating permits for factory farms must contain pollution controls, as well as monitoring and reporting requirements to be sure our water is not polluted by manure spills."

Supporters of the petition waved banners at the press conference calling for clean air and water and no more factory farms.

Tigges ended his comments by shouting, "We want clean water", which the crowd of about 50 people took up as a chant.

"Iowa has a number of impaired streams and rivers and we believe the biggest problem is manure from factory farms," added Pam Mackey-Taylor, chair, Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club. "In our view, Iowa's current enforcement program does not adequately enforce the NPDES regulations because IDNR more often than not fails to act on permit and program violations." In addition, she said IDNR does not collect fines when imposed and fails to inspect and monitor CAFOS subject to Clean Water Act regulations.

Karla Raettig, Environmental Integrity Project, called on the Iowa Legislature as well to take action. "The Iowa Legislature has hamstrung the state's ability to regulate factory farms. The citizen groups are petitioning EPA because Iowa fails to demonstrate sufficient authority and willingness to carry out the NPDES program."

Carroll, Iowa, farmer Vern Tigges, said the IDNR has failed to do its job in regulating CAFOs under the Clean Water Act since it receive authority in 1978.

After the press conference, the group headed to the governor's office in the state capital. "We are headed to the governor's office because he wants to ban public address systems. We won't allow him to stifle our right to free speech," noted Tigges.

No one from the IDNR responded to the petition during the press conference.

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