Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Rich Leopold has clarified comments made in a story by Radio Iowa last Thursday. Leopold was quoted as saying he was in no hurry to see bills rewriting livestock regulations pass the legislature. Leopold says the comments attributed to the livestock bills were actually made about a bill dealing with splitting the DNR in two, and another bill involving water quality.
Leopold says he continues to follow, and give input, on bills involving livestock regulations and the location of livestock operations. One of the bills is in the Iowa House. Leopold says it’s a very long bill that’s complicated. "We like a lot of what the bill has in it as far as intent," Leopold says, "when we look at how it’s going to be implemented, we’re concerned that we in the D-N-R perhaps don’t have the resources we need to fully implement it. But as far as a lot of the intent in there, we’re working with legislators to try and make it a stronger bill as it goes through."
The other bill is in the Senate. Leopold says he doesn’t know as much about the Senate bill, but has been working with the senators involved to learn more. Leopold says he does know that the bill "institutes a committee that speaks toward local control of siting," but Leopold says he doesn’t understand the full ramifications of that bill yet and continues working with the senators to educate the DNR as to what they’re trying to do.
Leopold says the bills are a combination of probably a dozen bills at the start of the session. Leopold says as changes and amendments are made the DNR continues trying to give the legislature the full scenario of what the bill might mean if they pass, "trying to look objectively at the science and policy involved in following their legislative intent."
As for the other bills that don’t involve the livestock issues, Leopold says those bills need some more time. Leopold says the bill to split the DNR is "simple, but has very complicated impacts." He says they want to more fully look at the bill to see if it’s the best use of our resources to deal with some of the "perceived problems that are out there."
Leopold says he needs more time to study all the issues with the bill. He says he’s only been on the job two months and has been talking with a lot of DNR employees and people outside the state and come to the conclusion that "I know enough to know that I don’t know enough." Leopold says they’re trying to get more information on what the change would cost and what its ramifications would be. Leopold says the water bill also needs some time to shake out.
Leopold says it’s the bill that includes a watershed counselor. He says there are parts of the bill that are agreeable, and parts that are disagreeable, but many of the parts of the bill are things Leopold says they’ll be doing already. Leopold says there will be some changes made in the next year that speak to the "good points" of the water quality bill, so "I don’t think it is necessary at this point."
As for the legislative status of the livestock bills — the bill that would give county officials veto power over the location of livestock operations cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee. The other bill that would rewrite some of the rules livestock operations must adhere to when applying for a construction permit cleared the House Environmental Protection Committee and has been sent to the House Ag Committee for review.