Whose Side is EPA Director Gina McCarthy On? Corporate Ag or Everyday Iowans?
EPA chief’s public appearance at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s state fair picnic shelter tomorrow promoting failed policy of voluntary compliance comes less than three months after Governor Branstad demands McCarthy come to Iowa and capitulate to the factory farm lobby on Clean Water Act enforcement
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members on Wednesday blasted Gina McCarthy, newly confirmed Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for her planned visit to the Iowa State Fair tomorrow to participate in an event promoting the failed policy of voluntary compliance organized by Governor Branstad, Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, and Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp.
“It’s pretty telling that Gina McCarthy is going to the Iowa State Fair to participate in Governor Branstad’s ‘environmental award’ ceremony at the Farm Bureau Picnic shelter – at the same time that Branstad and the Farm Bureau are working overtime to block Clean Water Act enforcement in Iowa,” said Barb Kalbach, a fourth-generation family farmer and CCI member from Dexter. “Whose side is McCarthy on? Corporate ag polluters or everyday people and the environment?”
“Voluntary individual conservation efforts may be exemplary,” said Kalbach, “but Iowa’s 628 polluted waterways and rising tell the true tale. McCarthy needs to stand up to this bad policy – voluntary compliance doesn’t work. We need strong and effective public oversight, exactly what Governor Branstad and the Farm Bureau are fighting so hard to prevent.”
McCarthy is scheduled to speak with Farm Bureau representatives at the Iowa Farm Environmental Leaders Awards ceremony at noon Thursday at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s fair picnic shelter. According to the press release her office circulated: “During her visit, McCarthy will also meet with farmers and other members of the agricultural community,” code for more closed door, backroom meetings with the big-moneyed corporate agribusiness lobby.
On May 20, Governor Branstad sent a letter to McCarthy demanding she come to Iowa, meet with factory farm industry representatives, and cave to their corporate profits agenda to block meaningful Clean Water Act enforcement of factory farm pollution.
Another top Obama appointee from Washington DC named Nancy Stoner, EPA’s Acting Administrator of Water, will meet with Iowa CCI members at their statewide headquarters in Des Moines at 2pm Thursday, but CCI members say the otherwise high-profile meeting with Stoner is just EPA’s way of providing cover for McCarthy’s likely meetings with Governor Branstad, the Farm Bureau, and other livestock commodity groups around the same time.
The DNR, EPA, and corporate ag lobby representatives will also meet in Des Moines on Friday to negotiate draft new Standard Operating Procedure manuals governing how factory farm inspections will be conducted. Iowa CCI members say all signs point to EPA making big concessions to the corporate ag roundtable that could exempt hundreds, if not thousands, of factory farms from inspections.
A coalition of community and environmental groups weeks ago outed Branstad’s lobbying efforts opposing Clean Water Act enforcement, and exposed his efforts to bring the corporate ag lobby and other livestock commodity groups directly into the negotiations between the EPA and DNR.
The Iowa DNR and U.S. EPA have been negotiating a work plan agreement to bring the state of Iowa into compliance with the Clean Water Act after EPA released a scathing report on July 12, 2012 finding the DNR’s factory farm enforcement program does not meet federal requirements. The July 12, 2012 EPA Report said DNR:
- Has 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.
The EPA intervention was a response to a 2007 de-delegation petition filed by Iowa CCI members, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Iowa Sierra Club. The petition called on EPA to strip the Iowa DNR of its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act for its failure to enforce federal law against factory farm polluters.
Iowa’s water quality has never been worse than now, with 628 polluted bodies of water, and manure and other fertilizer runoff so high that Des Moines Water Works ran the world’s most expensive nitrate removal system for nearly 90 days this spring and summer, costing 500,000 ratepayers in Central Iowa as much as $7,000 per day – for a grand cost near $700,000.
Iowa CCI is a statewide people’s action group that uses community organizing to build grassroots power and win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics, and polluters.
Will you call Gina McCarthy’s office in Washington DC at 202.564.4700 right now and demand she meet with CCI members when she’s in Iowa tomorrow? Here’s a sample script:
- Say your name, where you’re from, that you’re a proud Iowa CCI member, and then ask to speak to Gina McCarthy.
- When the secretary asks to take a message, tell her you are angry that McCarthy is coming to Iowa to meet with corporate ag lobbyists and factory farm polluters, but she won’t meet with real citizens.
- Demand Gina McCarthy meet with Iowa CCI members tomorrow.
- The secretary will try to pass you off to McCarthy’s scheduler. Refuse to be transferred and demand the secretary make a note of your call and pass it up the chain of command.
- Contact us to let us know how your call went. It’s important to track how many calls. go in.
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