MUSCATINE, Iowa — In its campaign to improve Muscatine’s air and water quality, a local group is asking the governor to limit the actions of the Muscatine man who heads the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Attorney James Larew of Clean Air Muscatine asked that Roger Lande recuse himself from all environmental matters related to Grain Processors Corp.
GPC is a client of the Muscatine law firm where Lande was a partner before his appointment last year by Gov. Terry Branstad.
The group asks that Lande’s recusal include decisions on air pollution alerts and warnings being issued for Muscatine County.
The group wants someone at the DNR who does not have a conflict of interest be appointed to act in GPC-related matters, including the direction of reinstituted policies to provide pollution alerts and air pollution warnings.
DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins said Lande is aware of the letter, but has not had time to review it. “Until he has a chance to sit down and look over the letter, the DNR has no comment,” Baskins said.
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Spokesman Tim Albrecht said Branstad would have no comment until after his office has reviewed the letter.
In the letter, the group said in past years, the DNR had issued air-pollution alerts and warnings when the air quality reached certain levels. Under Lande’s direction, however, the DNR changed course and no longer issues public notices, according to the letter.
Pollution limits in Muscatine County have been violated more than 30 times this year, but no alerts have been issued by the DNR, according to Clean Air Muscatine.
“What we are asking the governor to do will cost the taxpayers nothing,” Sandra Stanley, Clean Air Muscatine board president, said in a statement. “But timely notices to the public, as the law requires, will benefit those who most need protection from air pollution’s harms.”
The members said they support local efforts to comply with the governor’s goal of making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.
“It will be impossible to achieve that goal ... as the air and water of Muscatine is heavily polluted and citizens are given no public warnings,” the letter states.