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A judge will soon rule on a lawsuit seeking to block a feedlot near a prized trout stream

Bloody Run creek in Northeast Iowa's Clayton County
Clay Masters
IPR file
Bloody Run creek in Northeast Iowa's Clayton County

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club on Thursday during a virtual court hearing. The lawsuit surrounds the DNR’s approval of an 11,600-head cattle feedlot near the headwaters of Bloody Run Creek in northeast Iowa’s environmentally sensitive “driftless" region. An attorney representing the DNR says there is no evidence in the lawsuit that any harm has occurred.

“In the present action, Sierra Club’s petition points to no evidence that a harm has ever occurred, that there is any perceptible present or eminent harm,” Assistant Attorney General David Steward said. “Furthermore, allegations of increased risks of environmental harm are by Sierra Club’s own admission based on speculation.”

Attorney Wally Taylor represents the Iowa Sierra Club. He says the lawsuit seeks to prevent such harm.

“When is the appropriate time? Do we have to wait until manure is applied?” Taylor said during the virtual court hearing on Thursday. “We don’t even know when it’s going to be applied because we don’t have access to the application records or anything like that.”

The lawsuit claims the DNR approved the application from Supreme Beef LLC despite receiving calculations that the feedlot’s manure plan was flawed. Judge Michael Huppert said he will issue a ruling in the coming days.

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Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.