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EPC member resigns, cites anti-agriculture direction of board
A member of the state’s Environmental Protection Commission who has been labeled by critics as “pro-factory farms” has stepped down.
Ralph Klemme, a former Republican state representative from LeMars, resigned from the nine-person oversight panel, which is part of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, late last week. He told the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers that the commission’s “increasing tilt against agriculture” was his main reason to step down.
â€œI appreciated the appointment by the governor, but I didnâ€™t like the direction the commission was going,â€ Klemme said. â€œI just donâ€™t think there is a lot of common sense in some of the decisions.â€
Klemme, who was appointed to the board by Gov. Chet Culver in 2007, said several of the EPCâ€™s recent decisions indicated that several commission members tend to blame agriculture for nearly all of Iowaâ€™s environmental issues.
This includes a decision last month by the EPC to deny a permit for two new livestock barns in Dallas County despite meeting all state rules and regulations.
The Commission voted in August to deny two 7,440-head hog factories in Dallas County. Klemme was one of two commissioners who voted to approve the farms.
In a press release, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a group that is strongly opposed to corporate farms, called Klemme’s resignation a victory and an opportunity to get someone on the commission who will “stand up for protecting Iowa’s environment.”
A former state legislator from LeMars, Klemme voted in May to approve a large hog factory in Greene County that was overwhelmingly opposed by local residents, county officials and local business leaders. He also voted against a common-sense rule that would have limited the amount of manure that factory farm owners could be spread on soybean crops.