Iowa's top environmental official still supports a five-year $22.8 million plan to reduce odors from livestock facilities in the state. That is, despite the fact that only $1 million for the project is included in Gov. Chet Culver's proposed budget for the coming year.
Culver delivered his first annual "Condition of the State" address to the Iowa Legislature last week. The Governor also presented his proposed budget.
The odor reduction plan, to be debated by lawmakers during the 2008 session of the Iowa Legislature, is on the priority list of Richard Leopold, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Among his other priorities are combating global warming and launching a new effort to protect Iowa's water supply.
The plans were presented to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission and the Iowa Natural Resource Commission last week. Ranking at the top of Leopold's agenda, he says, in no particular order:
* Livestock odor: The $22.8 million plan Leopold put together with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa State University officials. It would provide cost-sharing for livestock producers and would help fund research.
The project would pay part of the cost for voluntary installations of odor-reducing technology at livestock confinement facilities. The idea of the on-farm research and demonstration projects is to test various odor control methods and products on farms across the state and find out which ones work and which don't.
* Water quality: A new state water plan that would inventory the water supply. It would also study water quality more intensively, help protect water, set priorities for water during drought and floods, and rank the state's watersheds according to cleanup priorities.
* Air quality: A long-term plan that lays out ways to keep Iowa in compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. This would also develop industrial and livestock emission controls, and reduce greenhouse gases.
* Hunting access: A new effort to give hunters more access to private property. Soaring land values have made it difficult for DNR to buy as much land as it would like for hunting preserves. The debate will be whether to buy easements allowing access to private lands or encourage landowners to donate easements.
* Other proposals: Leopold has a number of proposals that have to do with improving parks and trails throughout Iowa and improving educational efforts. He wants to continue work on how to find $150 million a year for added spending on natural resources projects, including parks and trails.