Newly Released Documents Show EPA Prepared to Make Unacceptable Concessions in Closed- Door Negotiations with DNR, Factory Farm Groups

Clean water petitioners will meet with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today to urge stronger oversight of DNR and nationwide factory farm pollution

August 15, 2013

Environmental Integrity Project, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and the Iowa Sierra Club will meet with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Office of Water Administrator Nancy Stoner in Des Moines today.  The three community and environmental groups petitioned EPA to withdraw Iowa’s Clean Water Act authority in 2007, which led EPA to issue its 2012 report criticizing the state’s poor regulation of factory farms.  Unfortunately, the three groups leading the campaign for reform have been shut out of the discussion, and documents obtained this week indicate that direct involvement by Governor Branstad and the corporate ag industry have influenced the factory farm inspection protocols currently under negotiation.

The three groups today released copies of DNR’s proposed draft assessment protocols that would determine which of the state’s largest factory farms will be inspected, and which ones ultimately must get permits to protect water quality.  EPA revisions to the plans, which the groups say fall short of what is needed, were also made public. The groups identified three specific factors that significantly weaken the overall work plan agreement and could let hundreds of factory farms avoid strong and effective public oversight through inspections and permitting:

  1. EPA only plans to require DNR to inspect hog confinements with more than 5,000 hogs even though this directly contradicts EPA’s own guidance on inspections, which says all large CAFOs (over 2,500 hogs) need inspections to see if they require permits.
  2. EPA is letting DNR inspectors decide if thousands of factory farms need permits without ever leaving their desks even though EPA has clear authority to require more on-site inspections.
  3. EPA actually weakened DNR’s proposal to require inspections of all large hog confinements storing liquid manure close to vulnerable waterways, and will instead only require inspections if the manure is stored outside.

For the press release, click here.

For EPA’s draft “Comprehensive Survey” protocol, click here.

For EPA’s draft “Desktop Evaluation” protocol, click here.

For EPA’s draft inspection procedures for unpermitted confinement operations, click here.

For EPA’s draft inspection procedures for unpermitted open feedlots, click here.

For EPA’s draft inspection procedures for permitted open feedlots, click here.