DES MOINES – At its regular January meeting today, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission approved a new rule regarding how the DNR handles enforcement actions.
Despite many comments at the meeting claiming the new rule weakens environmental enforcement, the rule simply clarifies the variety of compliance and enforcement documents and other communications the DNR considers in response to a potential violation of state law or rules. The DNR has used procedures similar to the proposed Chapter 17 rule for many years, and this rulemaking simply formalizes this practice.
The DNR takes enforcement on a wide variety of violations, from submitting late reports to willful violation of state and federal environmental standards. “Our primary goal is to achieve compliance and minimize impact to the environment,” said Barb Lynch, chief of DNR’s field services and compliance. “This rule helps us achieve more consistency on how we approach the varying levels of severity when we must take enforcement action,” she added.
“The DNR works hard to educate people on the front end,” said Chuck Gipp, director of the DNR. “We would much rather provide assistance in meeting environmental regulations so that people understand and know what’s expected of them to protect our resources, than say ‘Gotcha’ when they mess up.”
The new chapter is intended to meet the DNR’s responsibility to protect public health and the environment, while, at the same time, providing regulated entities and the public with transparency, clarity, consistency and fairness in addressing potential violations of Iowa’s environmental statutes and rules.
In other action, the commission approved the quarterly plan for state revolving loans to fund clean water and drinking water projects, and authorized a new method of funding water quality, the “Water Resource Restoration Sponsored Projects.”
Commissioners also finalized their annual report to the governor and the general assembly. The report is available on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov/InsideDNR/BoardsCommissions.aspx.