In a press release Thursday, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp announced a two week extension to the public comment period for Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which was released in November.
The comment period will now end January 18.
The Strategy articulates state government’s proposed approach for taking on nitrogen and phosphorous pollution which together with chronic soil erosion represents Iowa’s largest, most persistent threat to clean water.
Upon learning of the extension, Ralph Rosenberg, the Council’s executive director, made the following statement:
“We appreciate that Secretary Northey and Director Gipp have granted our request to provide Iowans additional time to comment on Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
“For two years, Iowa’s strategy to take on its most widespread pollution problem was developed largely out of public view. Now, one day before the public comment period was to end, it was extended two weeks.
“Allowing two additional weeks for comment is a small but important step toward welcoming the participation of all Iowans on this important strategy to clean up Iowa’s murky waters.”
In their statement, Gipp and Northey said “it has been the goal all along to have broad public input on the strategy,” touting public meetings on the strategy after its release as well as future outreach efforts.
But state agencies chose not to accept public comments during those meetings, and in an editorial on November 25, the Des Moines Register criticized the secrecy under which the strategy was developed, including a lack of public hearings prior to the strategy’s release and that “preliminary drafts were treated as classified national security secrets.”
The public can learn more about Iowa’s nutrient strategy or submit public comments through the Council’s action alert system on a special section of the organization’s website devoted to the nutrient strategy.