Six CCI members from across the state met with Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Chuck Gipp recently to demand that the DNR stand up for clean air and clean water and crack down on factory farm polluters.
Barb Kalbach, Adair County; Joyce Otto, JoAnn Speas, and Jim Yungclas, Poweshiek County; Cherie Mortice, Polk County; and Evan Burger, Story County all attended the meeting, told personal stories about how factory farm pollution has impacted their lives, and demanded Gipp and the DNR do their job and stop kowtowing to the corporate ag lobby.
The statewide meeting with the top environmental regulator in Iowa came on the heels of a recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) won by more than 5 years of CCI organizing in coalition with the Environmental Integrity Project and the Sierra Club. On July 12, the EPA issued a report stating that the DNR:
• Failed to issue permits to factory farms when required.
• Does not have an adequate factory farm inspection program.
• Frequently fails to act in response to manure spills and other environmental violations.
• Does not assess adequate fines and penalties when violations occur.
Iowa CCI members told Gipp to throw out a bad rule proposed by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) to gut environmental enforcement and instead pass strong rules to implement the federal Clean Water Act.
Iowa CCI members also had a conference call with top EPA officials from the Region 7 office in Kansas City, Kansas to discuss the EPA report and what DNR needs to do to move the state into compliance with federal law.
“We need stronger laws, tougher enforcement, and a fully-funded DNR,” said Larry Ginter, a CCI member and family farmer from Rhodes, Iowa. “It’s time to move away from the failed corporate policies of deregulation and privatization.”
Iowa CCI members have led a statewide fight-back by everyday people and have mobilized dozens of Iowans from across the state to speak out at public DNR hearings in Carroll, Des Moines, Iowa City, and Mason City in recent weeks. Iowa CCI members have submitted more than 700 comments to the DNR opposing the bad rule. Click here to email a comment on this rule to the DNR.
Factory farm construction has skyrocketed across Iowa this year, and CCI members across the state are leading the fightback with 40 campaigns in 27 counties. Iowa CCI members have successfully stopped eight factory farms from being constructed in six different counties this year.
Iowa has more than 572 polluted waterways, and there have been more than 800 manure spills in the last 15 years, according to DNR and CCI records. A 2007 study by the Iowa Policy Project stated that factory farm manure “may be the largest agricultural polluter of Iowa’s streams and lakes”.
57% of Iowans say “we need stronger laws to stop factory farms from polluting our air and water,” according to a July 18-21 telephone poll of 539 active voters conducted by Public Policy Polling.