Skirting the real issue

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources agreed last week to a cumbersome inspection process that is supposed to assure us that livestock operations are not polluting waterways. More than 8,000 livestock operations will be inspected by state authorities as a result of the settlement, which responds to a complaint filed by environmental groups.

We’re all for clean livestock operations. Most of them are. The main pollution factor for surface water in Iowa is not livestock manure but soil erosion. Very little manure makes it directly to a lake or stream but for the spills (800 since 1995). Those are dwarfed by the tons of soil that are flowing annually into the prairie pothole lakes of Northwest Iowa and the Raccoon River. Many of these small lakes, such as Pickerel near Marathon, will be filled in over the next century. They are being converted to wetlands to filter soil before it hits the river.

We hear nothing about limiting soil loss in Iowa.

No authority takes action when mud slides hit homes along the South Shore of Storm Lake from sloppy farming practices. Nobody hardly notices when someone rips up grass seedings along Powell Creek that feeds into Storm Lake. Nobody cares that Lizard Lake in Pocahontas County is dead today and will be gone in a couple generations.

The real pollution issue in Iowa is soil erosion. We simply do not take it seriously.

The few cattle left in Iowa do not have a significant impact on surface water quality. Most hog confinements now have concrete pits underneath them for manure storage. The manure only moves when the soil does.

When 20 tons per acre were lost in Buena Vista County this spring, we chalked it up to a burp from Nature and kept on planting up to that riverbank. Nobody thought anything of it — other than ain’t it a shame and certainly no government agency whispered a breath about penalty. Just about better planning.

So don’t go telling us this is a victory for water quality. This is a victory for the ranks of livestock facility inspectors. Pickerel Lake is filling fast. As for Storm Lake, thank goodness the dredge is pumping all that Iowa gold into a big, useless hole. And it just keeps coming.

An officer is dead

Last week the police in Rockwell City were looking for a man who reportedly assaulted his mother. A neighbor last Thursday evening saw a light on. Police responded at about 9:30 p.m. The suspect was holed up in the house and refused to come out. More police responded, including trained marksman Jamie Buenting, 32, an eight-year veteran of the four-man police force. Buenting also was a member of a regional tactical squad.

The suspect fired a shot from the house and hit Buenting in the neck at about 1:30 a.m. The father of two died from the wound.

Many people believe they need to carry guns, concealed or not, to defend themselves from others. They claim that self-defense is the reason that they must be able to have corresponding firepower to the criminals. In this case, the assailant with a long criminal history used a high-powered rifle to kill the police officer.

We beg your indulgence as we repeat that the officer was a trained marksman with several years of tactical training for just such an event. Even with body armor, he was not able to survive the encounter.

So what makes you think you can?

In fact, rural law enforcement agents have every much a reason to be aware of guns as an officer in Chicago or Minneapolis. Storm Lake Police Chief Mark Prosser notes that more than half the deaths and assaults on police officers happen in suburban or rural areas. “They face the same threat and danger of an officer riding in the Bronx,” Prosser said.

It was just a few months ago that a Sioux City police officer was shot while on patrol. He survived.

Police in small-town Iowa are up against real firepower. We are awash in guns. Cops are getting killed. People are doing anything they can to get their hands on more guns. Several Storm Lake teenagers recently stole a gun in a home burglary and apparently intended to use it at a fight; the gun jammed on the way and it was never used.

People who insist that any gun safety measures absolutely do not comport with the Constitution should read their briefs at the grave of a cop taken down by a gun in the wrong hands.