AGRIBUSINESS: Difference in EPA, DNR Philosophies Central to Clean Water Act Enforcement Issue

In 2007, three environmental groups in Iowa, the Environmental Integrity Project, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI), and the Iowa Sierra Club, filed a petition with EPA to de-delegate Iowa DNR’s authority in enforcing the Clean Water Act in the state, which would turn over enforcement responsibilities to EPA.
EPA investigated in 2012, finding that DNR indeed fell short in its duties to inspect livestock operations. EPA drafted a work plan to rectify the issue, but that work plan is still unsigned.
DNR Spokesman Kevin Baskins says central to the issue is a difference in philsophy between the two agencies.
“The biggest philosophical question is: ‘Do we try to address these issues up front?’ Or, do we do it by having those heavy fine-type situations that send a signal through the industry that there’s potential problems and potential penalties if those things aren’t done right?” Baskins says. “Our philosophy has always been try to work with them up front and prevent those, rather than throwing fines afterwards. That philosophically has been kind of the difference.”

Baskins adds that DNR’s philosophy is supported by the Iowa legislature, which recently channeled $700,000 into DNR for inspections of animal feeding operations, and funded 7 additional inspectors to assist

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