The director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says it’s a painful period for state agencies with the of tight budgets, but Rich Leopold says he does have a couple of priorities he’d like lawmakers to consider. One is developing a plan to improve air quality.
"We have some areas in eastern Iowa that are in danger of going into non-attainment of clean-air standards for PM-2.5, small particulate matter," Leopold says. He says overall air quality is a concern too. Leopold says, "Our background levels across the state are very high. We’ve asked for some help in getting a plan in place across the state to bring down those background levels."
Leopold says he will need some funds so the D.N.R. can continue mapping flood plains as a way to reduce damage the next time the state floods. "As people begin to rebuild, and we will rebuild, we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars already, billions to come, that we do it in the right way because this is Iowa and it floods, and it will flood again, and we want to make sure to minimize human suffering and economic damage the next time it floods," Leopold says.
Leopold says he hopes some of the $700-million Governor Culver plans to spend to rebuild Iowa goes toward strengthening dams, levees and watersheds. Leopold says he hopes the Legislature votes for a second time on a state constitutional amendment to establish a sustainable fund that would support natural resources. If approved by lawmakers, the amendment would go to a public referendum in 2010.