Culver opposes dirty water bill

Governor Chet Culver will not sign a bill that would weaken Iowa’s current restrictions on spreading manure over frozen and snow-covered ground. Culver’s senior adviser Jim Larew confirmed the governor’s opposition during a February 22 meeting with members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Iowa CCI is among the environmental groups that have sounded the alarm about House File 2324 and a companion bill, Senate File 2229. The bills would exempt many large farms from the new manure application rules adopted last year. Earlier this month, the House Agriculture Committee approved HF 2324 with minimal debate.

Culver had previously promised to block the new proposal in private conversations. The bill’s lead sponsor in the Iowa House, Democratic State Representative Ray Zirkelbach, told yesterday, “Basically I was told that the governor’s going to veto it no matter what … if it came to his desk […].” Zirkelbach contends that the bill is needed to help the struggling dairy industry. He denies that it would lead to more manure contaminating Iowa waters.

I am glad to see the governor take a stand against Zirkelbach’s proposal. Improving the manure application bill was a major victory during the closing days of last year’s legislative session. We should not have to keep fighting efforts to move us backwards on water quality.

The full text of yesterday’s press release from Iowa CCI is after the jump.

Iowa CCI press release of February 22:

For Immediate Release

Governor Culver’s Office Publicly Opposes “Manure in Water” bill — HF 2324

More than 100 Iowans call on legislative leadership to stand up for clean water and “Kill the bill”

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2010, DES MOINES, IOWA — Governor Culver’s chief of staff and top political advisor Jim Larew told more than 100 members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) during a meeting at the State Capitol Monday that the Culver Administration opposed HF 2324, a bill that would gut the ban on the application and spreading of manure on frozen and snow-covered ground — a bad practice that has resulted in record levels of ammonia pollution in our rivers and streams and forced the Des Moines Water Works to draw on alternative water sources on more than one occasion.  Manure contaminated water has been linked to infectious diseases like dysentery, hepatitis, and typhoid, as well as the seasonal “dead-zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

When asked where Governor Culver stood on the issue, Larew responded, “There is no way this office is in favor of weakening last year’s bill.” Members of Iowa CCI won the passage of legislation banning the application of manure on frozen and snow-covered ground during the 2009 legislative session. HF 2324 would gut these efforts.

Iowa CCI members mobilized at the Capitol for a Clean Water Lobby Day and press conference to deliver a simple message to the governor and legislative leaders:  “Kill the bill.”

“Governor Culver called me on the phone last week because he knows I’m a CCI member concerned about the environment,” said Rosie Partridge of Wall Lake.  “The governor himself promised me that he would veto this bill.  He needs to publicly speak out against it.”

“House File 2324 will essentially allow 5,500 factory farms to dump manure in our water whenever they want,” said CCI Executive Director Hugh Espey. “This bill is shameful, and we are going to stop it dead in its tracks.”

In addition to Iowa CCI – groups strongly opposing HF 2324 also include: the Environmental Protection Agency, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Sierra Club, Iowa Environmental Council, Iowa Farmer’s Union and Des Moines Water Works.

House leadership must stand on the side of millions of everyday Iowans, not 5,500 factory farms, and kill HF 2324. Iowans demand legislators not cater to corporate ag special interests and put people before politics, profits and polluters.

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