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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Sierra Club Iowa Chapter filed a lawsuit this week in Clayton County District Court against the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Supreme Beef, owners of an 11,600-head cattle feedlot near Monona.
The DNR approved Supreme Beef’s nutrient management plan in April, greenlighting one of the largest animal feeding operations in the state.
The 15-page petition filed Thursday seeks to reverse the DNR decision the Sierra Club says was “based upon an irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustifiable interpretation of a provision of law.”
The group says the feedlot endangers groundwater and Bloody Run Creek, a popular trout stream considered an “Outstanding Iowa Water.”
Environmental groups have opposed the feedlot since 2017, when Walz Energy planned to raise thousands of cattle and put the manure and other waste into anaerobic digesters. But the project has morphed over the years into an open feedlot with manure being applied to nearby farm fields.
The lawsuit says the DNR based its approval on faulty data provided by Supreme Beef and that the facility will produce far more manure than is claimed in the nutrient management plan.
Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan, whose son-in-law, Jared Walz, is one of the Supreme Beef owners, contacted Lyon about the project in early October. He told The Gazette last spring he was not attempting to pressure the agency to approve the larger facility, but just to get the “right folks” at the DNR in contact with Walz.
The Sierra Club mentions the Zumbach connection in the petition.
Walz spoke briefly about the project at an Aug. 31, 2020, public hearing, saying people often get stuck on the “potential pitfalls” of a new business venture rather than the good that can come from it.
He said the 11,000 cows will be fed with commodities from Eastern Iowa.
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