Governor Chet Culver is defending the head of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources after an audit found over a dozen state laws the agency is not enforcing. The list includes failing to require operating permits from infectious waste treatment facilities and failing to conduct random inspections of public works departments. The findings have at least two lawmakers calling for an overhaul of the agency.
But Culver says the attention to the audit is overblown and overstated. “I think what’s important to note is the hundreds if not thousands of enforcement actions the D.N.R. does move forward on every year,” Culver said, “I appreciate very much the leadership of (D.N.R. director) Rich Leopold, he’s doing an outstanding job.”
State Auditor David Vaudt says its common during an annual review to find that an agency is failing to completely enforce certain laws, but Vaudt says the D.N.R.’s non-compliance list was longer than most. Culver says after two years of budget cuts he’s not surprised the agency was forced to prioritize.
Meanwhile, the D.N.R. says Iowa has a moratorium on new infectious waste treatment facilities, so failing to require operating permits has not put the public at risk.