Could Iowa Clean Water Rule Changes Increase Pollution?
Thursday, August 11, 2016
DES MOINES, Iowa – In an emergency vote on Wednesday, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission unanimously approved changes to the state's clean water standards.
Before this decision, the Department of Natural Resources made sure any projects seeking permits to increase pollution to a waterway would have considered less-polluting alternatives.
Susan Heathcote, Water Program director for the Iowa Environmental Council, says now, those alternatives can more easily be avoided.
"The environmental benefits will no longer need to be considered, and the decision will be made based on costs alone," she states.
The amended guidelines go into effect on Friday.
Heathcote says that kind of quick turnaround on a decision like this is unusual.
"Because these are adopted 'emergency,' they will be effective immediately,” she points out. “So, they will start implementing them, which we consider that to be a little bit problematic."
Heathcote says because the previous standards incorporated input from environmental, business, industry and utility groups, they did a good job balancing economic and environmental concerns.
And, although the standards have suddenly been ruled out, she says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could change them back.
"We're hoping that they're going to actually disapprove these rule changes,” she states. “We've looked at the requirements under the federal regulations for anti-degradation implementation procedures, and we don't think this is in compliance with the federal requirement."
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to make a ruling in the next 60 to 90 days.
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