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Editorial: Cleanup time in Iowa

It seems as if Iowa may have its own ideas about heeding edicts from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA stated Thursday in a report, according to The Associated Press, that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources "has failed to take timely enforcement actions against livestock facilities that violate the Clean Water Act and it did not assess adequate penalties in many cases." It also said the state has an inadequate inspection program, doesn't sufficiently evaluate the need for livestock operations to get federal waste discharge permits, and "failed to act in nearly half of the water quality violation cases against cattle farms that the EPA reviewed."

The EPA noted in its report that staff cuts during the last five years have kept the Iowa DNR from doing its job properly. Given that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has consistently called for easing environmental regulations, it's difficult to imagine that trend reversing itself anytime soon.

While the Iowa DNR reportedly expects to address the EPA criticisms this week, there is no word on if and when Branstad plans to comment. Meanwhile, Republicans across the country are promising overhauls of EPA regulations should they be elected in November. You can bet there are more than a few waiting to see how that will play out in Iowa -- and you can also be sure both sides of the environmental policies debate are going to be sharing their message plenty during the next four months.