Today marks the one-year anniversary of the precedent-setting Work Plan Agreement between the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the Clean Water Act (CWA) for factory farms in Iowa.
The DNR’s Annual Report issued yesterday shows that when it comes to protecting Iowans and our waterways from one of the biggest sources of pollution in the state, the DNR still refuses to take its job seriously.
The DNR failed to meet four objectives of the Work Plan: inspections, issuing Clean Water Act permits, issuing fines and penalties and providing information to the public.
Check out the report card we made for the DNR: http://iowacci.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/DNR-1-YR-workplan-report-card4.jpg
The Work Plan contains vague and poorly defined goals related to DNR’s oversight of the factory farm industry, but it does represent an important first step in making the industry finally comply with the Federal CWA.
The DNR’s Annual Report shows an agency taking full advantage of the lack of clarity in the Work Plan to continue its long history of avoiding regulating this highly-polluting industry. In the few instances where the Work Plan goals are clearly defined, like with factory farm evaluation and inspection requirements, the DNR cannot even meet its minimal mandates. Click here to view the DNR/EPA Work Plan.
The DNR agreed to inspect and evaluate twenty percent of Iowa’s 8,500+ factory farm facilities during the first year of the Work Plan to determine which operations need permits. The report released yesterday stated they have only completed fourteen percent of the required inspections.
“How many times do we have to say we told you so? We’ve been saying for 7 years that the DNR is failing to do its job and sadly we’re proven right.” Said Larry Ginter, CCI member and family farmer from Rhodes, Iowa. “We told the DNR they needed more than 7 new inspectors to achieve its goal of inspecting twenty percent of all factory farms per year but Governor Branstad and DNR Director Gipp insisted 7 new inspectors was enough.”
The Work Plan also required the DNR to “timely issue [CWA] permits that meet federal requirements to all CAFOs that DNR determines discharge to waters of the U.S.”
Since the Work Plan was signed on September 11, 2013 there have been at least 49 documented manure spills in Iowa, yet the Annual Report admits that ‘no permits were issued as a result of requirements from a Work Plan inspection’. None of the factory farms that had manure spills received a CWA permit either. DNR officials have said they doubt they’ll issue a single permit to a hog factory farm.
“In late August, the Clinton Vos factory farm in Marshall County had a massive manure spill that could have been prevented if the DNR had been doing its job,” said Barb Kalbach, 4th generation family farmer from Dexter. “This factory farm has not been inspected since 2006 and the spill went on for a week before a neighbor reported it to the DNR. This is unacceptable; the DNR needs to issue polluters a permit.”
The Work Plan also requires DNR “to implement an enforcement program that ensures penalties are sought in accordance with DNR’s [Enforcement Management System] and creates a stronger deterrent to noncompliance”.
However, since the Work Plan was signed only 11 of the 49 factory farm polluters have received a fine or penalty, sending a clear message to industry that it’s cheaper to keep polluting than to fix the problem.
DNR is also doing a poor job of keeping the public informed of its Work Plan progress as required. So far the Work Plan progress updates have been vague and contain very little real information.
“DNR should post information about every inspection, manure spill and enforcement action taken.” Said Kalbach. “Without this information how is the public supposed to know if the DNR is just checking off boxes or taking the Work Plan seriously?”
“This Work Plan will only be successful if it leads to real oversight of factory farm pollution in Iowa. That means serious inspections, strong permits, and enforcement actions that ensure it doesn’t pay to pollute. DNR hasn’t shown that it takes permitting seriously, and EPA should step in and conduct independent investigations of Iowa manure spills,” said Tarah Heinzen, attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project.
CCI members are calling on the DNR to strengthen the Clean Water Act implementation with 4 demands.
Iowa’s more than 20 million hogs confined in thousands of factory farms produce nearly ten billion gallons of toxic manure every year. There have been more than 741 manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has more than 630 polluted waterways.
Use your voice to let the DNR know this is unacceptable. Share the report card on Facebook – just click through for a ready to go post!
More of a Twitter fan? Here are some tweets to use!
1 yr-anniversary of EPA Work-Plan: @iowadnr failed to meet all 4 requirements.
Is that why we have 630 polluted waterways? #cleanwaterfight
.@iowadnr failed all 4 requirements of EPA Clean Water Act Work Plan. You can work for a better grade – here’s how!
They DUMP it, you DRINK it, we won’t stop ’til they clean it up!
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