Branstad has packed DNR and EPC with factory farm industry insiders

 

It’s official. Gov. Branstad has appointed former House Majority Leader Chuck Gipp (R-Decorah) as director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

This is only the latest step in Branstad’s corporate agenda to stack the decks of state government with factory farm industry insiders hostile to strong and effective public oversight of the environment.

The shakeup at the DNR comes as rural Iowans are experiencing the largest surge in factory farm construction across the state in the past five years alone, a serious threat to the long-term health of our air, land and water.

Chuck Gipp’s never met a factory farm bill he didn’t like,” said Larry Ginter, an independent family farmer and CCI member from Rhodes, Iowa. “Now he’s going to be the #1 guy at an agency he spent his entire legislative career trying to deregulate and dismantle.

In 2001, CCI members labeled Gipp one of the “Factory Farm Four” because of his long voting record to reduce and rollback citizen input and public oversight over the corporate factory farm industry.

  • In 1995, Gipp voted for H.F. 519 – a bill signed into law by then-governor Branstad that essentially rolled out the welcome mat for factory farm expansion in Iowa.
  • In 1997 and 1998, Gipp voted to outlaw local control ordinances and centralize decision-making authority with the state, expand the ability of corporations to purchase farmland and raise livestock, and grant immunity from fines and penalties to documented polluters.
  • In 2003, Gipp voted to rollback clean air rules, strip the DNR of its power to write ambient air quality standards, strengthen nuisance lawsuit protections for corporations, and expand the industry’s ability to build factory farms in environmentally-sensitive areas like flood plains and on karst soil.
  • In 2004, Gipp voted to legalize factory farm air pollution by creating a weak regulatory framework for air quality standards.
  • In 2005, Gipp voted to undermine law enforcement and corporate accountability by making it harder to refer habitual factory farm polluters to the Attorney General, and obstruct DNR rulemaking by making it easier for big-moneyed corporations to stop or stall rulemaking.
  • In 2006, Gipp voted to gut DNR’s authority to deny or modify a factory farm construction permit or manure management plan, empower the state legislature to stop or stall executive branch rulemaking, weaken manure management laws, and discourage and penalize citizen input by silencing everyday people who speak out against factory farm pollution.
  • In 2008, Gipp voted for a $23 million taxpayer-funded odor study that would stall action on mandatory and enforceable clean air standards and force Iowa citizens to foot the bill.

Iowa CCI members say Branstad’s political appointments to the DNR, Environmental Protection Commission (EPC), and Board of Regents – including Chuck Gipp, but also retiring director Roger Lande, Bill Ehm, and Bruce and Brent Rastetter – clearly demonstrate just how beholden Branstad is to the corporate ag interests that bankrolled his campaign for governor.

Branstad has packed the Board of Regents, the DNR, and the EPC with people who have made careers out of dismantling government of, by, and for the people and creating government of, by, and for the corporations,” Ginter said. “These kind of appointments clearly expose the corporate control of our democracy and highlights the need for the kind of systemic changes that Iowa CCI members continue to fight for.

 

Learn More

Join the Fight!

 

Use the links below to SHARE this urgent message with your friends:

Imagine a factory farm operator a mile from your local community spills 10,000 gallons of toxic manure into a tile line that runs into a nearby river, lake, or stream, resulting in hundreds of fish kills.

Now imagine instead of investigating the spill and levying the toughest fines and penalties allowed by law, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has an “informal meeting” with the operator, and sends a “letter of noncompliance” asking them not to do it again.  

Does that sound like a good deterrent to you?    

The sad thing is, the DNR already does this in too many cases.  But a new rule being pushed by corporate ag interest group, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) would formalize this bad policy in writing, making it more difficult for everyday people to ensure strong and effective public oversight of factory farm polluters in the future, even if priorities shift in two years with a new governor and a new DNR director.

If passed, ABI’s proposed new rule would signal to the industry that the DNR is going to take a “hands-off” approach to enforcement, which could lead to more manure spills and more water pollution.

The DNR has extended the public comment period. We already have more than 150 comments on record – take two minutes now to add your voice to those opposed to this backwards rule – Click here to take action now

 

Iowa CCI members aren’t ones to sit by and just let things happen.
  • April 23 – More than 20 CCI members gave testimony for more than an hour at the Iowa DNR’s public hearing on this proposed de-regulation attempt.
  • April 23 – We dropped by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry’s Des Moines office to tell top official Mike Ralston to drop this rule.
  • March 20 – (photo above) 15 CCI members attended the Environmental Protection Commission meeting to fight back against an attempt by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), to weaken the DNR’s ability to crack down on factory farm polluters who violate our clean water laws.

Stand up for clean water and stand up to corporate power – click here to take action now!

 

>> Want to get action alerts like this in your inbox? Sign up for Iowa CCI emails.

>> Want to be a part of the group leading the factory farm fight back in Iowa. Join as an Iowa CCI member today.

 

Invite your friends to stand up for clean water. Please share this with your networks below:

Did your county pass it?

 

A record number of Iowa counties have again adopted the Master Matrix scoring system this year to give counties the right to appeal a factory farm permit issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).   Eighty eight counties passed it in 2012, up from 79 counties in 2010.  Thanks to all CCI members who contacted their county officials on this important clean water issue!

The Master Matrix is the only form of local control citizens have to stop factory farm construction permits. We need all 99 counties on board!

Click here to see the DNR’s map of counties. If your county is on the list below, they did not pass the Master Matrix for 2012 – urge them to pass it next year.

  • Decatur
  • Iowa
  • Jasper
  • Keokuk
  • Lee
  • Mahaska
  • Osceola
  • Plymouth
  • Wapello
  • Warren
  • Washington

 

The construction evaluation resolution—also known as the Master Matrix—is the only tool available to citizens to stop proposed factory farm construction sites. Meaning if your county doesn’t pass it, you and your neighbors might be S.O.L (manure.outof.luck) when it comes time to fight a factory farm in your area.

Every year, each county’s board of supervisors must vote to readopt the resolution and mail it in to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources before Jan. 31. We firmly believe that all counties should have local control over factory farm siting.

 

 

Tell your Supervisors to pass the Matrix!

 

We’ve heard word from a member in Van Buren County that your Board of Supervisors will be voting on the Master Matrix on Monday, Dec. 19 at 1 pm.

In order to use the matrix, Iowa counties must pass a resolution every year and file it with the DNR between January 1 and Saturday, January 31.

The matrix is not local control, however, it allows counties to comment on factory farm permit applications with the DNR having the final say.   Counties have been able to appeal and STOP factory farm permits because they used the Matrix.  Without it, they can not file appeals on permit to the DNR.

Here’s a note from CCI member Lora Conrad on the Van Buren County meeting:

You are receiving this e-mail because I believe you care about the quality of life we have here in Van Buren County. I hope you will be interested in this and will join me at the meeting to support adoption of the master matrix on Monday, December 19th at 1:00 pm.

 

Counties that want to evaluate any proposed sites for confinement facilities that need construction permits MUST notify the DNR by January 31 each year. Last year, 88 Iowa counties filed the construction evaluation resolution, including Van Buren. Hog producers with large confinement facilities (over 2500 hogs) in counties that file the resolution must meet higher standards than sites in counties that do not adopt the matrix. Its not much–it doesn’t stop large CAFOS in most cases—but it is our only legal opportunity for input and can require practices that reduce the impact on the environment and reduce the impact on our communities. Using this matrix process, Van Buren County was able to prevent the construction of a proposed 4800 facility in the past. Because it is a flawed process, we were not able to stop the construction of a CAFO with 2499 hogs because that is currently smaller than the size that must be reviewed. This and other problems must be addressed by our legislators.

 

The Van Buren Supervisors will meet on Monday December 19th, 2011 at 1:00 PM in the Supervisors’ Room in the Court House at which time this issue is on the agenda. All three county supervisors voted for and adopted the matrix for CAFO construction evaluation for 2011. However, do not assume it will pass unless we show that we support its use.

 

Please show your support for the county to continue to adopt the master matrix and have input on site selection. ATTEND THE MEETING if you can to show that we want to keep this matrix. It won’t take long and no speeches will be needed. Just your support. Please come. As we all know, the next large hog confinement could be in our own backyard.

 

If you can not attend, please call or e-mail them . Contact information is below.

 

Mark Meek
tugboat@netins.net
319-592-3199

 

Ted Nixon, Vice Chair
tnixon@netins.net
319-397-2394

 

Marvin Philips, Chair
mmphilipsfarms@gmail.com
641-693-8721
cell 641 919-7448

 

Please tell anyone you know that might support adoption of the matrix about the meeting or forward them this e-mail as the more people that know about this the better.  I hope to see you there Monday!

 

We will post a Matrix resolution for you to take to your county supervisors very soon. Feel free to call us if you need it sooner. Stay tuned!

In the mean time, if you are in Van Buren County – please share this action alert with your friends and family!

November 14, 2011

Contact: Natalie Snyders, Environmental Justice Organizer
515.282.0484, Natalie@iowacci.org

DNR must answer EPA deadline tomorrow

 

Federal EPA has ordered Iowa DNR to provide written response to Clean Water Act investigation by tomorrow

 

Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members are calling on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to publicly release the agency’s written response to an audit recently performed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to an October 28 letter from EPA to DNR, the deadline for DNR’s written response is tomorrow, November 15.

Earlier this month, top EPA officials made on-site visits to DNR field offices across the state and conducted a thorough and intensive investigation and review of DNR files, documents, and records, a result of a Notice of Intent to Sue filed against the EPA in August by Iowa CCI members, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club for the DNR’s failure to administer Clean Water Act permitting and enforcement programs for factory farm polluters.

In June, the DNR’s Environmental Protection Commission voted to scrap tough new rules designed to bring Iowa’s factory farm enforcement program into compliance with the Clean Water Act after nearly 40 years of noncompliance.

Iowa CCI members will attend tomorrow’s Environmental Protection Commission meeting at 10am at the DNR Air Quality Control Building, 7900 Hickman Road, to demand copies of DNR’s written response.

There have been more than 750 manure spills since 1995, including more than two dozen since Governor Terry Branstad was elected to office last November, and more than nine in the last few months. Iowa has more than 572 polluted waterways.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a group of everyday people who talk, act and get things done on issues that matter most. With thousands of members from all walks of life — urban and rural, black and white, immigrants and lifelong Iowans — CCI has been tackling tough issues and getting things done for more than 35 years.

For more information about Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, visit www.iowacci.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  November 10, 2011

Contact: Natalie Snyders, Environmental Justice Organizer 515.282.0484, Natalie @ iowacci.org

CCI Members to Rastetter: We’ll be back

On Thursday, the Iowa Ethics and Disclosure Board voted to scrap members’ August 16 conflict of interest ethics complaint against Rastetter

 

Des Moines, Iowa –  On Thursday, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board voted to put factory farm polluters before environmental protections and dismiss an ethics complaint filed by members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) against Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) member Brent Rastetter.

CCI members say Rastetter’s private role as the owner and president of the multi-million dollar factory farm construction company Quality Ag, Inc, creates a clear conflict of interest with his public duty as an EPC commissioner to stand up for clean air and water and crack down on factory farm polluters.

Iowa CCI members filed the ethics complaint after Rastetter’s June 21 vote to scrap a Clean Water Act rulemaking package that would have brought Iowa into compliance with federal law after nearly 40 years of noncompliance. The new rule, if passed, would have directly impacted Rastetter’s business.

An official copy of the complaint can be viewed here.

“Brent Rastetter’s service on the EPC is like the fox guarding the chicken coop, and doesn’t pass the common-sense test.” Said CCI member and family farmer Larry Ginter from Rhodes, IA, “The Campaign and Ethics Disclosure Board just gave good government a black eye.”

Iowa Code 68B.2A, “Prohibited outside employment and activities — conflicts of interest” states:

Any person who serves or is employed by the state or a political subdivision of the state shall not engage in…outside employment or an activity that is subject to the official control, inspection, review , audit, or enforcement authority of the person, during the performance of the person’s duties of office or employment.

“It is the mission of the EPC and DNR to protect our environment, and we will continue to push EPC commissioners and DNR staff to stand up for clean air and water, and to crack down on factory farm polluters” Said Barb Kalbach, a nurse & 4th generation family farmer from Dexter. “And whether it is rulemaking or cracking down on factory farm polluters, we will be there to make sure that DNR & EPC are taking a tough stand. If they don’t, we will continue to pursue every option available to stand up for the environment and everyday Iowans.”

There have been more than 750 manure spills since 1995, including more than two dozen since Governor Terry Branstad was elected to office last November. Iowa has more than 572 polluted waterways.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a group of everyday people who talk, act and get things done on issues that matter most. With thousands of members from all walks of life — urban and rural, black and white, immigrants and lifelong Iowans — CCI has been tackling tough issues and getting things done for more than 35 years.

For more information about Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, visit www.iowacci.org