Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commission recently retracted permitting requirements for large-scale animal farms. These requirements used to mandate that farmers in charge of confined animal feeding operations receive a permit from the Department of Natural Resources before discharging animal waste. The Sioux City Journal reports that this decision caused outrage among local environmentalists, including members of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI):
The ICCI representatives, several dressed in T-shirts promoting their organization, didn’t stay for the vote. “The fix is in anyway,” Goodner said as he and other members left the conference room.
Their comments before the vote included several points, not in the least that they thought the board was stacked in favor of agribusiness and hostile to environmental regulation.
Several of the speakers singled out commissioners Brent Ratsetter and Delores Mertz, saying they should rescue themselves from the vote, if not the commission entirely.
Dave Daniels, a ICCI member from Adair, said it was akin to the members of a ball team being able to call the strikes and the outs during a game.
Ratsetter is the owner and CEO of Quality Ag Construction, which specializes in building large-scale farms. Mertz is a former Iowa House member whose family is involve in farming operations.
The original permitting requirements were a result of federal regulations issued in 2008, however these regulations were later removed.
The state was expected to adopt the federal regulations – which were approved in 2008 – but those federal regulations were overturned in a federal appellate court in March. So the commission decided it would wait until the new federal rules came out before they voted, which is what the vote accomplished.