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A Rare Bit of Good News

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In a rare bit of good news for Americans concerned about the quality of their water, a district court judge in Polk County, Iowa, has denied an industrial agriculture lobby’s efforts to raise legal objections to the state’s clean water provisions. The Iowa Environmental Council has the scoop:

Legal challenges to new clean water protections in Iowa raised by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and other groups are “without merit” and should not move on to trial, a judge in the Iowa District Court for Polk County ruled Friday.

The protections, known as antidegradation rules, limit the harmful effects of new pollution in Iowa’s waters.  They require the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to consider how new pollution in an area might harm uses of the water like drinking, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation when the agency issues permits allowing new pollution discharges.  Different standards of protection apply to different waterways based on their existing quality, and the protections are stronger in places where the water is more pristine.

National and regional assessments of waterways in the Mississippi River Basin consistently point to chemical fertilizers and manure spreading on fields as the main sources of nutrient pollution. Most farm operations are exempt from the pollution control requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, and few states have little authority to compel farmers to reduce water contamination. Efforts by agribusiness lobbyists to weaken already tepid environmental protections should be struck down every single time.

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Table Scraps

-       Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) penned an opinion piece in The Hill fighting back against proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).

-       In an interview, Fareed Zakaria, Time magazine editor and host of CNN’s GPS, called farm subsidies “a third rail of not just American but European politics as well.”

-       Google and Apple are jousting over the use of North Carolina hog manure to power their operations.

Tweet of the day:

@grist New science reveals agriculture’s true climate impact http://t.co/jfuvgxfw

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