FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 11, 2014
Contact: Manny Gonzales
Supreme Court Decision Upholds Iowa’s Clean Water Anti-Degradation Standards
The Iowa Supreme Court today upheld the rule-making process that established the state’s clean water anti-degradation standards, keeping rules in place that are designed to protect some of Iowa’s most important lakes and waterways.
The ruling ends the Farm Bureau’s lawsuit to scuttle the rules through the courts after failing to do so in an open and fair rule-making process. Iowa’s common-sense anti-degradation standards will remain in place as federal law requires. Iowans can now focus on successfully implementing the rules and the ongoing work that will achieve clean water goals.
“We are grateful to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Natural Resources and our environmental partners for standing up to the Farm Bureau’s efforts to throw out the rules,” said Ralph Rosenberg, executive director of the Iowa Environmental Council. “This issue is greater than clean water protection. This was an effort to shut out citizen participation in government by a powerful business interest like the Farm Bureau.”
Four years ago, Iowa adopted strong “anti-degradation” standards – an important but often ignored part of the Clean Water Act designed to keep unnecessary pollution out of clean waterways. But since then, the Farm Bureau has challenged these important standards and even issued intrusive subpoenas to intimidate local environmentalists and challenge the Environmental Protection Commission by trying to disqualify one of its members, Susan Heathcote, water program director of the Iowa Environmental Council. The lower courts have since thrown out the Farm Bureau’s legal challenges.
“This is a clear win for clean water and for open and fair government,” said Environmental Law & Policy Center Senior Attorney Brad Klein. “We’re grateful that the Court rejected the Farm Bureau’s attempts to harass and intimidate the Council and Susan Heathcote. This important ruling means that we can put the Farm Bureau’s attempts to delay and distract behind us and move on to protect some of Iowa’s most important lakes, rivers and streams.”