he proposed sales tax to pay for water quality projects is a lot like the weather — everyone seems to be lobbying for the new sales tax, but no one is willing to estimate what it will accomplish [Joining the struggle for clean water, Sept. 18]. A 15 percent reduction in nutrient runoff? Or 25 percent?

What is the next step, a decade and a couple more billion tax dollars later, when Iowa’s water remains polluted?

If Iowa’s secretary of agriculture wants a revenue-neutral solution, require Iowa’s rich farmland owners to implement Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy to receive existing state and federal subsidies. Per the strategy, this would reduce runoff by around two-thirds, at no additional cost to taxpayers.

— Erich Riesenberg, Des Moines

Published in the Des Moines Register.

Having attended the Oct. 18 meeting of the Environmental Protection Commission and a prior Department of Natural Resources meeting on regulations governing factory farms, it’s clear that the DNR is a textbook example of agency capture [Iowa wimps out on animal confinement rules, environmentalists complain, Oct. 18]. Rather than regulating the industrial animal agriculture industry in the public interest, the industry essentially regulates the DNR.

Industry groups were consulted well before the rules review process was even announced, and they told DNR what changes were acceptable to them and which ones were not. Rather than strengthening factory farm regulations to protect our air, water and rural communities, as 90 percent of public comments urged DNR to do, DNR’s changes approved by the EPC will make our state’s water quality situation even worse.

DNR is unwilling to properly regulate the more than 8,000 factory farms in this state to address their numerous and well-documented environmental impacts. We need a moratorium on new and expanded factory farms in Iowa. It’s common sense, expressed well by the first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.

— Bernie Fischlowitz-Roberts, Grinnell

Published in the Des Moines Register.

Since Prestage was given the go-ahead to build in Wright County, six confined-animal feeding operation permits have been applied for in Webster County and one in Humboldt County, all within 3 miles of the plant site. And we have one in Cerro Gordo County, north of Ventura, that our county supervisors are courageously opposing. I hope they choose to continue to fight it.

We were repeatedly told “no more CAFOS were needed” — made out to be kooks, spreading “misinformation.” Millions of gallons of manure will be spread across the fields within miles of these CAFOs. That would’ve been here.

There was a story about how the food pantries have been cleaned out in Storm Lake. Remember being told how great the slaughterhouse was for that community? That would’ve been here.

Don’t care? Doesn’t affect you? What about your water bills doubling, or more, when communities have to put in infrastructure to remove nitrites to safe levels? Or you can buy bottled water … I wonder how much the price of that will go up when municipal water is unsafe?

What will be the ripple effects to businesses and jobs if Clear Lake and Ventura smell of manure? You don’t believe tourism will be affected?

Prestage may be gone from here, but the threat of more CAFOS is not. The laws and regulations are so weak, it’s difficult to stop them.

Ironically, the pork producers announced a glut of hogs driving prices down to the point they’re losing $10 a head currently, possibly going to $30 in the next year.

When you go to the polls, know how your representatives stand on this issue, from county supervisors to state legislators.

These regulations, particularly the master matrix regulation, on CAFOS, need to be revised and this governor and his ilk need to go when the time comes.

Tom Willett, Mason City

Published in the Mason City Globe Gazette.

Lots of us recreate on lakes with friends and family. For hours at a time, we boat, canoe and kayak. Needless to say, we congregate there.

But the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) doesn’t see it that way.

In their recent revisions to factory farm rules, the DNR decided lakes are no longer considered a “public use area.” They erased the word “lakes” from the definition, meaning factory farms can build even closer to these precious water bodies.

Why would DNR do this, you ask?

As revealed by Iowa CCI’s Freedom of Information Act request, the change was made at the behest of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. That’s right: the very industry DNR is charged with regulating.

It’s clear as day that Gov. Branstad’s DNR isn’t working for the people of Iowa and certainly isn’t protecting our natural resources. All Iowans should be up in arms about this deliberate decision to weaken factory farm rules at the expense of our water and communities. The continual deregulation of this industry leaves us with no choice but to call for a moratorium on any new or expanding factory farms!

Published in the Marshalltown Times Republican.


Great video of member and Bakken Pipeline Resistance fighter Julia Slocum questioning who should be fined and shut down – Dakota Access who is violating agreements with landowners all over the state or peaceful water protectors standing up for our land, water and each other?

Watch and SHARE to say #NoDAPL #NoBakken #WaterisLife.

By Patti McKee, CCI Member

Flags of many Native Nations snapping in the wind. Multi-colored tents across acres of matted grass. Chants and prayers in native tongues rising to the sky. Women in beribboned skirts. Smoke of wood cooking fires wafting on the breeze. Drumbeats penetrating your soul.

After a long day of driving and seeing the evidence of the construction of the Bakken oil pipeline through Iowa and South Dakota, Brenda Brink, Lisa Lai and I were greeted with the sights and smells described above.

Over Labor Day Weekend, people and tribes from all over the U.S. converged at the Red Warrior encampment on the banks of the Cannonball River. The encampment has the feel of a large powwow, with a main area for speakers and performances, including singing, drumming and dancing. Over 180 tribes and other groups have given their support to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in their struggle against the pipeline. The encampment is said to be the largest gathering of Native Americans in recent history.

While we Iowans were there, more tribes came and were introduced. A representative from the Nation of Islam came to lend their support, as well as representatives from a Palestinian rights group. Statements of support were also read from Black Lives Matter.

On Saturday, we took part in a women’s river blessing. We shared about ourselves and our reasons for being at the encampment before walking to the river and blessing it. We came out of the river with the rich, black mud between our toes.

Later in the day came the call to action as Dakota Access, the company building the pipeline, was bulldozing recently discovered Sioux ancestral sites on the ranchland across the road from the reservation. We missed this call to action because we were heading back to our tent at Sacred Stone camp.

Democracy Now has live footage of the confrontation between Native Americans and Dakota Access. From all I heard at first and have read and watched since, I think it was a deliberate act of provocation by Dakota Access. The link provides many sources of stories about the aftermath of the incident.

The rest of that day, a surveillance plane and helicopter flew over the Red Warrior Camp, causing tension in the camp. But events such as horse races and children’s footraces continued.

On Sunday, we marched peacefully with 500 people to the bulldozed site for prayers and a ceremony, all in the Native tongue. It was a time to reflect, to heal and draw strength to continue the fight against the pipeline.

May the courage and commitment of the Native Americans inspire us to continue our fight against the pipeline here in Iowa. May we lend our support to the Standing Rock Sioux in their struggle. The pipeline is not a done deal.


Sign the petition to tell President Obama to STOP THE PIPELINE. 

*Featured Image Instagram User Matao Inuzuka

LIKE and RETWEET to say #NoDAPL!