DNR scoring system fails to protect Iowans' air, water, health

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September 29, 2017

The “Master Matrix” is the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) scoring system designed to bring county government into the process of locating large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

It is supposed to protect neighbors and the environment but has proven to be an ineffective device that gives county supervisors very little to do or say. And it ties the hands of the DNR as well.

More than 97 percent of proposed facilities get approved, even when counties object because of community complaints and/or adverse environmental impacts on vulnerable lands and waterways.  

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) and Food & Water Watch have petitioned the DNR to revise and update the Master Matrix to give local communities a real role in approving or rejecting CAFOs. The first chance of taking up this detailed revision is Sept. 18 when the Environmental Protection Commission next meets.

There is now widespread concern in rural Iowa about CAFO growth and impact. Seventeen Iowa counties have taken action similar to the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors asking the governor and legislature “to address the failings of the Master Matrix to protect the air, water, health, ‘quality of life’ and economic interests of the citizens we were elected to represent.”

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