A group that’s been lobbying for tighter state regulation of large-scale livestock facilities is suing the state commission that’s in charge of those regulations. The lawsuit filed by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement notes that five of the eight members on the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission have a “direct financial stake” in livestock operations.
“We would expect people on any board or commission to recuse themselves when they take a vote that would impact their bottom (line),” says Adam Mason, a spokesman for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
On Tuesday, the state Environmental Protection Commission unanimously approved new rules for livestock operations, but Mason and his group say those rules don’t go far enough to protect water quality.
“There are no environmentalists on the commission,” Mason says, “…so you can see that it’s weighted to one side that favors the livestock industry here in Iowa.”
Nancy Couser, the chairwoman of the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, runs a cattle operation near Nevada with her husband and son.
“We are stakeholders and we should have a voice in the entity that regulates us,” Cowser says. “I don’t understand what their problem is with that.”
Cowser says state law dictates that at least three farmers serve on the commission.
“We are required to have three members on our commission actively engaged in livestock and grain farming,” Cowser says.
The Iowa Supreme Court recently ruled there was no conflict of interest a few years ago when a person who worked on water quality issues for the Iowa Environmental Council served on the same state commission and voted on water quality regulations.