Citizens Request

The following is a response from IDEM to the letter written to the Governor's office.  This letter did not address why bills that would have a financial assurance clause have not been allowed to be heard in committee.  The letter sent to the Governor is listed after the response.

Dear Ms. Cox, 

Thank you for your e-mail to Governor Daniels regarding your concerns about Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). He appreciates the time you took to share your comments and has asked me to respond on his behalf. It is always helpful to have input from Hoosiers regarding the challenges we face. 

I spoke to staff at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) about this issue. Before a farm can be voided from the CFO/CAFO program, they must meet the closure requirement within the confined feeding rule, 327 IAC 16-12-3. This is on the web at http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/T03270/A00160.PDF. 

IDEM is very aware of the Union Go operation and is continuously monitoring the situation. With regard to the liner in the storage structure, this is a concern and IDEM is working with the operator to come up with a safe solution. IDEM approved a plan in May 2009 for Union Go Dairy to construct a new earthen storage, so they can move the liquid from the old storage structure and remediate the liner. The facility has recently submitted a remediation plan to IDEM. It is currently under review. 

Your letter raised concerns about ground water contamination in the area around Union Go Dairy. Union Go Dairy has a ground water monitoring procedure in place at their facility. At this time, there have not been any samples that would indicate that the ground water at the facility has been contaminated. On March 17, 2010, staff from IDEM's Office of Land Quality provided oversight to monitoring well samples being taken and split ground water samples from the wells with Union-Go's contractor. The samples are currently being tested by a lab under contract with IDEM's Office of Land Quality. 

The state cannot comment on the finances of an operation; however, Union Go is still in operation, and still has to operate within the restrictions and limits of their permit. Again, IDEM continues to monitor the lagoon and are proceeding with proper remediation, but as for "existing contamination", there is no evidence to support this claim. I  have  asked  IDEM  to  keep  the  Governor  informed of any new developments  in this matter.  

You mention that financial assurance packages should be a requirement for CFOs and CAFOs in the event an operation negatively affects the environment, such as a spill, the taxpayers will not shoulder the burden of the cleanup costs. While this decision is entirely up to the legislature, most, if not all, regulated facilities operate within the guidelines of their permit and the need for cleanup has rarely occurred. IDEM has only had two incidents where money was spent to remediate a site, and only one complete site closure that is currently ongoing. In any of these situations, IDEM has the ability to seek cost recovery from the responsible party. This means that the costs would not be the responsibility of the agency, or the taxpayers. The cost to clean up Muncie Sow was not more than $200,000 and IDEM, through the attorney general's office, is in the process of seeking cost recovery from the current owners. The current owners have been charged with contempt for violating their court order.  

Together, all Hoosiers can work to make our state the best possible place to live and work. This administration is seeking greatness in every aspect of life in Indiana. I want us to aspire to excellence and to share the understanding that we are all in this together.  

Thank you for your active citizenship. Please do not hesitate to contact Governor Daniels or IDEM with future questions or concerns. 

Sincerely,

Kristin Wiley

Governor's Liaison for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management 

cc: Bruce Palin, IDEM     Peggy Dorsey, IDEM    Andy Tauer, IDEM     Brad Baughn, IDEM     Barry Sneed, IDEM

This letter was sent to Governor Daniels.  We will post the reply from his office when it is received.

March 11, 2010

Governor Daniels, 

Events of the past 9 months have triggered this letter. Over the past year many of the confined feeding operations and Confined Animal Feeding Operations  have asked for a voidance from their permits.  They have either fallen below the number of animals or have gone out of business.   How many of these will be closed without proper environmental procedures by the owners?   Muncie Sow, in Delaware County, was closed and the facility was allowed to be sold to another party without proper closure and environmental clean up.  When IDEM finally made the move to clean up the area, the cost was over $200,000 at taxpayers' expense. Then, of course, the rest of the pollution went down the river while killing the fish and polluting a recreational area.  The CAFO owner has not appeared in Court. We wonder how many hours of IDEM staff time should be charged to this case without resolution.    

Now we have a dairy that has a record of violations plus a compromised lagoon since 2008.  The liner that was to protect the groundwater is now on the top and has been that way since 2008.  This is the "Bubble Trouble Lagoon"  as there are huge bubbles of contained manure that can be seen from a distance. We have concerns that there has been contamination of the ground water in the area of residents' homes. This dairy is now in foreclosure, bankruptcy, and has a lawsuit filed against it.   IDEM is considering renewing the permit.   Will this dairy stay in business?  Will it be sold without proper environmental clean up?  Will it close and the taxpayers be required to foot the bill for clean up?  These are important questions that bring up another subject. 

In review of the legislation that has been authored for the past five years (all but this year) there has been a bill that would have required all cfo and CAFO to carry either a bond or money in a fund for clean up.  Each one would have given financial assurance to the taxpayers that the taxpayers were not going to be paying for clean up.  Yet each time the bill was not heard in the Senate Energy and Environmental Committee.  One bill did make it to hearing but was so watered down it was not an effective bill.  Now this begs the question as to why this has happened.   Is it lack of foresight by this Administration?  Are there such powerful lobbying groups working with your Administration that the taxpayers' welfare is dismissed?  We, as taxpayers, do not have the answer but we do believe we should have an answer to these questions by the Governor of our State. 

We, the taxpayers, have sat in committee meeting after committee meeting at the Senate Energy and Environmental Committee hearing bills on underground storage tanks and the clean up problems that have occurred with this kind of storage.  We wonder what Governor did not have the foresight to see all the problems a gas station on every corner would create with out proper regulations.  Now we wonder why your Administration is following the same path with the promotion of CAFOs without proper regulations and a financial assurance package. 

In closing, we, as citizens, are seeing our firefighters and police cut, all in the name of budget.  We are seeing a cut in our school budgets that are going to have ramifications on the future generations of Indiana.   Yet while all these cuts are made, we see industrial agriculture given a pass as to carrying any insurance for a potential problem that has already caused the taxpayers money and environmental damage.  We are shocked that a Governor that prides himself on fiscal responsibility, would allow this total lack of fiscal responsibility by one segment of industry. 

We are asking you as Governor of all citizens and taxpayers of Indiana to review this serious issue and to advocate for  the citizens in rule making or encourage a legislative solution to this potential threat. Thank you, and we await your reply.  

Dr. Julie Alexander

Mrs. Jetta Dungan

Max Thomas

Mrs. Kathryn Petry

Gary Alexander

Elizabeth Thomas

Hoosier Homestead Farm-1901 

Mrs. Mary Ann Crayton

Bob Hedges

Ann Miller

Robert Patterson

Barbara Hedges

Leslie Patterson

Jerry Carter

Randy Hartman

Darell Robinson

Wanda Mae Carter

Gena Hartman

Nicholas Ellis

Allen Hutchison

Barbara Sha Cox

Judy Hutchison

Dianne Richardson