DNR needs consistency

Monday, November 19, 2007

It may be too early to panic, but there are indications that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources could put a halt to the use of fuel pellets from landfill waste to power a bio-diesel plant as well as plans for other uses of these fuel pellets such as operating a boiler for heat at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute.

It appears that the pelletizing process that is being established at the Cherokee County Landfill may have to cut down on use of plastics to be environmentally acceptable.

So why the turnaround from the DNR's earlier acceptance, actually enthusiastic approval, of a plan to turn waste at the Cherokee County Landfill into an energy source?

One reason is that the DNR is structured like and acts like more than one organization.

Different departments address different issues - including air quality, water quality, natural resource preservation, solid waste disposal, safety of the home, work or school environment, etc.

Sometimes a project will involve overlapping areas of concern and it is possible for different departments to have different conclusions regarding a project.

Also, the environmental impact of a project and the acceptability of that impact is a subjective matter. Consistent rules and standards are impossible for any new process. It ends up being a matter of opinion by a bureaucrat, an opinion that has the impact of law.

Having explained why inconsistency within the DNR exists, that does not excuse it.

Public and private entities have invested heavily in a project based on the DNR's approval.

The people at the DNR need to get it together as far as not second-guessing itself.