Eleanor Hildebrandt | June 3, 2021
Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Kayla Lyon decided last Friday that she will not use the Director’s Discretion Rule to review an 11,600-head cattle feedlot.
More than 40 groups, individuals, and elected officials sent a letter to Lyon asking her to use the rule to veto the approval of the operation in late May. The Iowa DNR and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office notified the organizations, legislators, and individuals that the initial decision approving the Supreme Beef project will stand.
Environmental groups are concerned about the project due to its proximity to Monona and Bloody Run Creek—a protected waterway. The feedlot will be in the creek’s watershed, presenting the possibility of contaminating the water.
The Director’s Discretion Rule was objected to in the Iowa Legislature in 2006. Any challenge to the rule means the DNR must prove that the rule is not arbitrary, beyond its authority, capricious, or unreasonable. The rule can still be used regardless of the Legislature’s previous objection.
In Lyon’s letter, she said the DNR’s Legal Services Bureau advised her and said a subrule “lacks statutory authority”. Lyon cited chapters 459 and 459A of Iowa’s code as to why she could not conduct an alternative evaluation. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups disagree and are asking the DNR to formally outline how they came to their decision to the public.
According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, environmental groups can file a lawsuit against the Iowa DNR, but no suits have been filed.