EPA’s Karl Brooks got the message

With more than 75 people at our meeting with Region 7 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Karl Brooks last night, you and our allies the Iowa Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project sent a powerful message to the EPA and set the stage for cleaning up Iowa’s water and holding factory farms accountable over the next five years.

Though Brooks was clearly not comfortable being in the CCI hot seat, he called the clean water framework coming to Iowa “precedent setting” on a national level.  And that’s because of your work.

Brooks committed to holding the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) accountable to implement five aspects of a new work plan to bring Iowa into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. The work plan will require the DNR to make major changes in the way it runs the factory farm enforcement program.

The five key aspects of the work plan include:

  • New DNR regulations to be completed by February 2014, which will make Iowa’s factory farm discharge permits as stringent as required under federal law.
  • New DNR criteria for determining which factory farms are polluting waterways, to allow for consistent and thorough inspections.
  • DNR inspections of approximately 8,000 large and medium factory farms by the end of 2018, to determine which facilities require Clean Water Act discharge permits.
  • New legislation so state setback requirements for manure spreading match federal requirements.
  • Increased DNR penalties for factory farms that discharge pollution illegally or violate Clean Water Act permits, so that penalties effectively deter violations.

Our meeting with Brooks last night focused on follow-up to the work plan agreement and CCI members won new commitments from EPA that they will accompany DNR on some inspections the first year, to audit other inspections, and to continue to work closely with our coalition moving forward.

The first five years of our work is nearly over, the second five years is about to begin.

The next several months will be crucial. With your continued support, Iowa CCI members and our coalition partners will continue to act as environmental watchdogs and aggressively monitor the implementation of the EPA/DNR work plan over the next five years and will weigh-in at key times with DNR, EPA, the state legislature, the governor’s office, the mainstream media and continue to engage Iowans to hold government and industry actors accountable.

Stay tuned for more action to come.