The state Environmental Protection Commission approved a rule today (Monday) that would give the Department of Natural Resources more authority to deny a construction permit or require modifications of a manure management plan for livestock operations.
D-N-R spokesman Kevin Baskins says the rule gives the D-N-R power to act in cases that aren’t currently covered by state law. Baskins says it gives the department the ability to deny construction permits or modify manure management plans, “If there were some obvious environmental threats that could occur with those activities.”
Baskins says there are some set guidelines for environmental threats. He says some examples are if the plan is within a two-year catchment basin of a public water supply, if the manure would have to be applied in an unusually long distance, if the manure was going to be applied to slopes of greater than seven degrees without an approved conservation plan. Baskins says the manure could also not be spread in certain parts of northeast Iowa where the manure might get to the groundwater.
The Iowa Legislature passed a bill in May that would have preempted commission action on the rule — but Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed the bill. Baskins says the bill was part of what’s been a vigorous debate over the issue. Baskins says there’s been a lot of discussion both from supporters of the livestock industry and those who’re against the industry.
Baskins says both sides “have really probably overestimated the actual impact of what this rule will do.” Baskins says the rule will not have as wide-ranging an impact that some people think. Baskins says they looked over the record amount of permits in the last four years and found the rule would only have probably been used less than 20 times.
Baskins says the rule will now go to the Legislature’s administrative rules committee for review. He says that review will likely be later this summer.