Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials announced plans last week to fight air pollution from livestock confinements but said they don't have the money to make the plan work.

Department director Jeff Vonk says that next month he will ask the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, which oversees the DNR, to approve air-quality standards for ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and odor, based on the recommendations in a recent joint report by Iowa State University and the University of Iowa.

Michael Murphy, the department's chief lawyer, says the state could take action against farms based on violations of the so-called "ambient standards." Michael Valde, the state's chief environmental-protection official, estimats that the program would cost $765,000 the first year and $926,000 the second. He gave no estimate for later years.

Valde is pursuing money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, while Vonk is talking to state legislators about providing some money for the program.

If the program is approved, the DNR would wait three to five years to decide whether to limit specific emissions at each confinement, says Vonk. That's because the department needs to get monitors in place and begin collecting data. Plus, it needs to see what compliance will cost confinement operations.

The Iowa administrative rules review committee, which is made up of lawmakers, would have to approve the rules. Brian Button of the state's air-quality staff says that, under the proposal, people violating the standards could be forced to submit a plan showing how they will prevent the problem.That could mean, for example, covering a lagoon. Button wasn't sure whether the plan allows for fines for failing to submit the plan.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, which had pushed for new regulations, says they object to the department's five-year schedule for fully implementing the controls. They said people are being sickened and need protection fast.

The department wants to hire three field workers and four lab employees. Equipment would include 10 hydrogen-sulfide monitors, four ammonia monitors and 18 scentometers.

Des Moines Register