Representative of Iowa industries which emit more than 100 tons of material into the atmosphere each year were at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Air Quality Bureau today.
They’re weighing in on plans to raise their fees to better enforce the Federal Clean Air Act.
The DNR proposes a new $24,000 application fee for operating permits. Also companies would pay more each year per ton of emissions.
Bureau Chief Catherine Fitzsimmons says with the new money, the DNR can hire more staff.
“We have a backlog of 90 operating permit applications,” Fitzsimmons says.
Fitzsimmons says federal rules require states to issue clean air permits within 18 months of application.
“We are not currently meeting the federal requirements,” Fitzsimmons says.
Officials say funds for enforcement have fallen short as industries have emitted less and thus paid lower fees. Kelly Jorgensen with Ag Processes Incorporated questions the new fee structure:
“I think everybody’s concerned any time you have a change,” Jorgensen says.
A representative of Archer Daniels Midland of Cedar Rapids says under the plan, fees per ton of emission will go up over time.
“That’s unsustainable,” says Rick Stevens, ADM’s environmental manager.
As many as 4000 Iowa companies would also pay a new fee for construction permits.
Barbara Kirby with Henniges Automotive in Keokuk says companies need more information.
“Some companies are asking, where has this come from?” Kirby says.
Bureau Chief Fitzsimmons says the higher fees are a work in progress.
“We’re in the drafting stage, so we need suggestions,” Fitzsimmons says.