December 18, 2014

Legislature likely to approve hiring more DNR inspectors

Two key lawmakers say it’s likely the Iowa legislature will vote to provide more money to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, to ensure federal officials don’t start inspecting large-scale livestock confinements in the state.

The DNR’s director has asked for $1.3 million to hire 11 new state inspectors and Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says legislators are “very interested” in resolving the matter.

“The threat of the feds coming in is a pretty real threat and pretty concerning to Iowans,” Gronstal says. “They don’t want to have to go to Kansas City or to Washington, D.C. to get answers to their questions about what they can appropriately do.”

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, agrees the matter is a priority for state legislators.

“That is part of the budget process,” Paulsen says. “We’ll work through it.”

Federal officials charge the Iowa Department of Natural Resources doesn’t act fast enough when there’s pollution from livestock operations. One state officials says the EPA is threatening to send “SWAT teams” into Iowa to inspect livestock facilities and manure spills.

Paulsen and Gronstal made their comments today during taping of the “Iowa Press” program which airs tonight at 7:30 on Iowa Public Television.