Letter to the Editor

Local control

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

There is no "one size fits all" when it come to the issue of local control. One can argue back and

forth about municipalities and their traffic cameras or whether local sheriffs should be able to provide information about the status of gun permits. One can argue that it shouldn't be necessary for the state to grant school districts funding flexibility before they can hire security personnel. One can argue that the state ought not prevent local governments from setting their own minimum wage.

But, as Norwegians say, "to put a point on it," when local control has an impact on something as basic to life as air or water quality, especially when such an issue arises in an environmentally sensitive area, the question of local control becomes even more significant.

Dickinson County, in addition to the familiar question about CAFOs and their relationship to air and water quality, now faces a situation in which local control is sadly lacking and sorely missed. The county supervisors have been put in a position of reacting to a BNSF railroad and Waste Management agreement approved by the DNR that allows the deposit of oil-contaminated soil in the Dickinson County landfill. One of the problem areas of control in this case even goes beyond the general situation. It goes as far as including the question of access to hard numerical chemical data that supports assertions that the material is not problematic.

In areas like the Iowa Great Lakes where nature tourism is economically critical, can Iowa find a way to reverse former Governor Branstad's removal of local control over environmental issues? In counties like Dickinson, such control is a foundational issue relating not just to the quality of the environment, as important as that is, but also to all other aspects of local life.

Dr. Karen A. Larson, Spirit Lake

Candidate for Iowa House District #1