Walz Energy discussion
Iowa Environmental Protection Commission
July 17, 2018
By Larry A. Stone
The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, with just enough members present for a quorum at their July 17 meeting, declined to heed a DNR staff recommendation to refer Walz Energy to the Iowa Attorney General’s office for legal action regarding alleged illegal discharges from the Walz construction site.
A motion by commissioner Rebecca Guinn of Moline, Ill., died for lack of a second. Chairman Ralph Lents had asked for the motion. But commissioners Mary Boote of Des Moines, Nancy Couser of Nevada, and Harold Hommes of Windsor Heights all refused to second, and the motion died. The commissioners thus avoided an up-or-down vote.
The lack of action followed an hour of testimony from both sides. DNR attorney Carrie Schoenebaum presented a litigation report outlining repeated NPDES permit violations that led to her recommendation to refer Walz to the AG.
Walz attorney Eldon McAfee, Walz CEO Jon Haman, and Walz partner Heath Kellogg admitted that there had been minor runoff incidents, but said they did not warrant the AG legal action.
Boote said the Walz plan to convert manure and organic waste to methane energy was import to Iowa’s future. Kellogg noted that it was in keeping with the Governor’s plan for energy independence.
Hommes suggested that Walz should be given more time to comply. Couser said that despite the problems Walz had encountered, they had “tried to do everything right.”
Pam Mackey-Taylor, acting director of the Iowa Sierra Club, said the multiple stormwater violations, and the Walz refusal to agree to a consent order and $10,000 penalty, were so serious as to demand action by the attorney general.
“There’s a saying that past behavior is an indication of future behavior,” Mackey-Taylor said. “The DNR was more than generous in giving Walz Energy several chances to remedy their storm water issues. Yet the DNR’s coaching was not successful in convincing Walz to comply.”