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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Kayla Lyon said she doesn’t have the authority to overturn her agency’s approval of an 11,600-head cattle feedlot near Monona.
The Sierra Club and the Iowa Environmental Council were joined by nine Iowa Democratic elected officials, community groups and residents in a request last week for Lyon to reverse course on the feedlot near a popular trout stream.
The Iowa DNR approved the feedlot’s nutrient management plan April 2, despite dozens of letters and public comments against the proposal.
The groups asked Lyon to authorize a “departmental evaluation” of the feedlot proposal, which would provide for special protection of environmentally sensitive areas. This review, authorized by Chapter 65 of the Iowa Administrative Code, could consider the feedlot’s proximity to “trout streams and karst terrain,” as well as the potential for manure to run into waterways.
The Supreme Beef feedlot is in the watershed of Bloody Run Creek, a popular trout stream considered an Outstanding Iowa Water.
Lyon denied the request in a May 28 letter the Sierra Club released Wednesday:
“I have been advised by the Department’s Legal Services Bureau and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office that subrule 65.103(5) lacks statutory authority,” Lyon wrote. “The Department would be exceeding its authority under Iowa Code chapters 459 and 459A by conducting an alternative evaluation of the NMP.”
Michael Schmidt, Iowa Environmental Council staff attorney, disagreed with this interpretation.
“The DNR has again refused to protect the environment, this time by undercutting its own rule to protect water quality,” he said in a prepared statement. “The denial fits a larger pattern in which DNR refuses to take on agricultural interests to protect Iowa’s water.”
The Sierra Club and other opponents have formally asked the DNR to outline how they made this decision, according to a news release Wednesday.
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