Governor Culver, please veto the odor-study bill

Our “effective” Democratic leaders in the Iowa House and Senate have pushed through the Livestock Odor Research and Air Modeling Study. The Senate passed the bill late last night.

Leigh Adcock of the Iowa Farmers Union explains why this is a “seriously flawed piece of legislation”:

Research has already been done on cost effective ways to mitigate odor.  Included are better siting methods, and the use of biofilters and covers on lagoons.  Iowa’s taxpayers should not be required to fund another round of studies on proven technologies when the legislature has not shown any willingness to act on the information already gathered from previous studies.  Instead we should require producers to implement what we already know.

Minnesota has enacted ambient air quality standards that limit hydrogen sulfide to 0.05 parts per million and is working on limiting ammonia emissions.   Missouri, Nebraska, and Colorado regulate sulfur emissions and emissions of other types.


Ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, two odor causing gases emitted from confined feedlot operations, are known to cause serious respiratory problems.

The bacteria found within particulates emitted from livestock operations create lung inflammation that leads to non-allergic asthma.  Twenty-five percent of those who work in confined feedlot operations have some form of respiratory disease, 10% higher than the United States working population as a whole.

Rekha Basu’s latest column for the Des Moines Register showed how many times the Iowa legislature has blocked action to alleviate the pollution caused by CAFOs.

Most of her examples come from the years when Republicans controlled both chambers of the legislature. It is discouraging to see that the livestock industry continues to trump public-health and environmental concerns even under Democratic control.

In the Iowa Senate, some lawmakers including Joe Bolkcom (D, Iowa City) offered good amendments, but those were rejected on a voice vote, so that we don’t even have a record of how individuals voted.

I do have the breakdown of how senators voted on the final version of the odor-study bill, and I’ve put that after the jump. It was not a party-line vote. If your senator voted against this waste of taxpayer money, please give him or her a call to say thanks.

I’m trying to dig up the final vote for the Iowa House as well and will update this diary with that information when I find it.

If I were an adviser to Governor Culver, I’d tell him to veto this bill. It’s the right thing to do on the merits. We simply don’t need more study of this problem. Spending $23 million over five years on more study wastes our money and kicks the can down the road. Using state funds to implement the measures that are working in other states would be a wiser use of taxpayer dollars.

The odor-study bill is a far cry from what the governor proposed to the legislature concerning this issue in January.

Finally, a veto would be cheered by environmentalists who are disappointed that the governor hasn’t made it a priority to push for local control over the siting of CAFOs (also known as agricultural zoning at the county level). Culver has said he is for local control, but he didn’t put much muscle behind that during the 2007 or 2008 legislative sessions.

Thanks to Lyle Krewson, lobbyist for the Sierra Club, for this breakdown of the vote in the Iowa Senate on House File 2688:

Yeas, 29:

D’s – Appel, Black, Courtney, Dearden, Fraise, Gronstal, Hancock, Heckroth, Horn, Kibbie, Kreiman, Olive, Rielly, Schoenjahn, Seng, Stewart, Wood

R’s – Angelo, Behn, Boettger, Hahn, Hartsuch, Johnson, Kettering, Lundby, McKinley, Mulder, Wieck, Zieman,

Nays, 17:

D’s – Beall, Bolkcom, Connolly, Danielson, Dotzler, Dvorsky, Hatch, Hogg, McCoy, Ragan, Quirmbach, Schmitz, Warnstadt

R’s – Noble, Seymour, Ward, Zaun

Absent, 4:

Gaskill, Houser, McKibben, Putney (All R’s.)

  • Just Sent An E-Mail to Thank

    My senator, Larry Noble. I’ve actually been quite content with Mr. Noble as of late. Although I’ve only been really taking a look at his votes since he’s been in the minority, for every issue I contacted him on, he has sided with me. Either even one e-mail/phone call has that much more influence on a state senator/representative, or he is a democrat under republican labeling which I could see if you wanted to win an election in this R-heavy district.

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