Business groups and city-owned utilities are crying foul over proposed rules which set new limits for the emission of two smelly chemicals. Municipal utilities say sewage lagoons would fall under the rules which aim to crack down on large-scale livestock operations that emit hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. The rules will apply to businesses, too. Ed Beaman of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa says state officials who drew up the rules didn’t use “sound science.” Beaman says the rules are a real threat to the economic health of rural Iowa. Jim Pray, an environmental lawyer, says the rules were rushed through so quickly, state officials didn’t do the math right. Pray says the standard’s so low, even the breath of human beings would violate the rules. Mike Triplett of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry says the rules are tougher than federal OSHA standards or those recommended by the nation’s top scientists. Triplett says the rules sent the wrong message to businesses in Iowa. A resolution moving through the Legislature would nullify the proposed rules. Governor Tom Vilsack defends the rules his Department of Natural Resources drafted, but he’s conceeding lawmakers will soon act to undo them, perhaps as early as this evening. Vilsack says the agency will continue to work hard to protect the environment and will quickly draft new rules because he says the state has a “moral obligation” to protect the environment. Vilsack says it’s unfortunate that lawmakers have chosen to take the action. Vilsack doesn’t buy the arguments critics are making, but says it’s not his call, and if the legislature nullifies the rules, they have to go back to the drawing board. There’s a public hearing at the statehouse tonight on the issue, beginning at seven o’clock. Senate leaders say they may debate the resolution that’d nullify the rules even later this evening.
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