Republican lawmakers are pushing a proposal that would have the legislature set air quality standards for large-scale livestock operations. Back in 2002, the legislature passed a bill that let state environmental protection officials write the rules outlining unacceptable levels of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from livestock operations, but last year lawmakers knocked down the air quality standards from the Department of Natural Resources. A bill pending in the House this year adopts air quality rules that are identical to standards set by the Centers for Disease Control. House Republican Leader Chuck Gipp of Decorah says republicans realize democrat Governor Tom Vilsack has concerns and that’s why a few folks are meeting behind the scenes to try to strike a compromise.Gipp says republicans “want to protect the public health” and want to find some “common ground” on the issue so the governor will sign the bill into law. Gipp says there’s confusion about what the bill really does. He says it sets standards that “meet the test of science.” Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says state environmental protection officials are “picking on” livestock farmers with the air quality rules they’ve develop. Representative Mark Kuhn (kyoon), a democrat from Charles City, says the bill would protect the “bad actors” in rural Iowa. Kuhn says it’s a “right to pollute bill.” Kuhn says the way he reads the bill, it would be 2010 before any livestock operator could be charged with polluting the air. And Kuhn says the “sound science” republicans say the bill’s based on is 20 years old. Kuhn says if “sound science is going to be used as a battle cry” to develop new rules, then legislators are “being disingenuous” if they’re not going to base the rules on new science. He says a new study’s just been published that examined the health of adults and kids who live near an I-B-P plant in South Sioux City, Nebraska and researchers found there’s a higher rate of emergency room visits the day after hydrogen sulfide in the air exceeds certain levels.
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