18 factory farms owe $60,000 in uncollected fines
DNR Fails To Collect More Than $400,000 In Fines and Penalties For Environmental Violations, Some Going Back 10 Years
18 factory farms owe state of Iowa nearly $60,000 in uncollected fines
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has failed to collect $401,154 in unpaid fines and penalties from industrial and agribusiness operations who have violated state environmental laws, including $59,204 in uncollected fines from 18 factory farms.
A DNR spreadsheet obtained by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement documenting these uncollected fees and fines is available here.
“We will never be able to clean up Iowa’s waters if it continues to be cheaper to pollute than to protect,” said Larry Ginter, a CCI member and family farmer from Rhodes, Iowa. “We need to start holding these polluters accountable and that means tough regulations, tough inspections, and tough fines when there is a violation.”
“If I got a speeding ticket I’d be required to pay it or lose my license. If a factory farm fails to pay their fine, they should be closed down, too.”
“$400,000 would provide the DNR an additional inspector for 3 years to help with the 5,000 inspections required by the Clean Water Act,” said Ginter.
In addition to the unpaid fines, the number of manure spills charged with a fine or penalty dropped significantly from 2000 to 2013 DNR records show.
In 2001, 80 percent of all manure spills or other environmental violations received a fine. Now, less than 15 percent of manure spills or other environmental violations receive a fine. CCI members say this shows the lack of will of the DNR to crack down on polluters and clean up Iowa’s waters.
“Our water continues to become more polluted, we have an increasing number of manure spills, an inadequate number of inspectors and factory farms are getting away with a slap on the wrist for polluting our water,” said Barb Kalbach, CCI member and 4th generation farmer from Dexter. “This system isn’t working. Governor Branstad and DNR Director Chuck Gipp aren’t working to clean up our water. In fact, they’re making it worse.”
With 728 manure spills since 1995 and 630 polluted waterways in Iowa, CCI members say this problem also shows that the current Clean Water Act rule, being considered by the Environmental Protection Commission in August, needs to be strengthen or the DNR will continue business as usual.
“There needs to be a three strikes and you’re out provision and every factory farm polluter needs a Clean Water Act permit,” stated Kalbach.
On August 19, the Branstad appointed EPC will be voting on precedent setting rules to implement the Clean Water Act for factory farms in Iowa. CCI members say the rule is weak and would continue business as usual. They plan on attending the EPC meeting in mass to demand the rule be strengthened.