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Northey: Voluntary approach is best

The Environmental Working Group’s “Murky Waters” study highlights the poor condition of Iowa’s streams and waterways, and is corroborated by information from the Iowa DNR. Few would argue that Iowa’s waterways are fine the way they are; the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship certainly isn’t. But one point where IDALS and EWG differ significantly is the way in which the problem should be handled.

While EWG dedicates a section of the report to applaud the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, it outlines several criteria that EWG feels such a report much fulfill in order to be effective; those criteria suggest “revamping” the voluntary philosophy IDALS normally employs and utilizing “smart and narrowly targeted” regulation to deal with producers who cause unusually high levels of pollution.

Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey doesn’t think those steps would be a smart move. In fact, he says voluntary approaches have been proven to work when it comes to soil conservation.