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Comments sought on IDNR response to permitting


September 20, 2012, Kansas City, KS – The EPA is seeking public comment on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) response to EPA’s initial findings from its informal investigation of IDNR’s permit and compliance program for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

The IDNR submitted its response to the EPA on Sept. 11, 2012, which outlines a number of actions to improve its animal feeding operations program.

“Transparency and public involvement are important components of this process and we need to hear from those that are affected by our decisions,” said Karl Brooks, regional administrator. “We look forward to receiving feedback on the IDNR response.”

On July 12, 2012, the EPA released a report outlining its initial findings, which identified deficiencies in IDNR’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program that the state agency will need to correct. Among other findings, the EPA found that IDNR does not have an adequate program to assess whether unpermitted CAFOs need NPDES permits. The findings also note that IDNR must clarify its authority to issue NPDES permits to confinement (roofed) CAFOs that discharge. The EPA also found that in a number of cases involving Clean Water Act (CWA) violations, IDNR failed to take timely and adequate enforcement actions, and assess adequate penalties.

The EPA’s investigation was carried out in response to a petition for withdrawal of the NPDES program authorization from IDNR that was filed in 2007 by the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project. Federal regulations allow interested parties to file these petitions when they are concerned that a state is not meeting the minimum NPDES program requirements.

The 30-day public comment period on IDNR’s response and proposed actions ends Oct. 17, 2012.

The EPA will consider public comments in its assessment of IDNR’s proposed actions to address deficiencies identified in the EPA’s initial findings.

IDNR’s response and the EPA’s initial report are available at www.epa.gov/region7/water. A link to the public notice, which describes how to submit comments, is available at www.epa.gov/region7/public_notices.