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Environmental Law

The Environmental Law Division represents the State of Iowa in issues affecting the environment. The majority of the division's work involves representing the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Comprehensive Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Fund Board.

The division prosecutes civil environmental enforcement actions involving water pollution, water supply, solid waste, air pollution, leaking underground storage tanks, hazardous conditions, and flood plains pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 455B, and animal feeding operations pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 459. The division is also responsible for implementing the One Call Education and Enforcement Initiative, including educating excavators and operators of underground facilities of the requirements of Iowa Code Chapter 480 and, when appropriate, initiating civil enforcement actions. The division also defends its assigned agencies in citizen suits, civil rights actions, judicial proceedings, and other litigation.

The division routinely advises the Department of Natural Resources concerning statutory and rule interpretations, administrative law questions, and enforcement strategies. The division reviews grants to cities for various environmental construction projects. The division also provides legal assistance to the DNR in matters relating to acquisition and management of state-owned lands and waters and development projects on state-owned lands including National Environmental Policy Act requirements, construction contract disputes, drainage disputes, permits and leases for special uses of public lands and waters, and regulations relating to fishing, hunting, trapping, boating and use of state parks. The division advises the DNR and other state agencies in matters relating to federal management of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

The division serves as general counsel to the Division of Soil Conservation of the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship as well as the 100 soil and water conservation districts. General counsel duties include providing legal assistance regarding such matters as contracts, personnel issues, and collections. The division enforces coal and mineral mining laws and assists in collecting administrative penalties, provides title opinions, and reviews contracts in connection with water quality and abandoned mine land reclamation projects. The division also represents the soil and water conservation districts by enforcing administrative orders, soil loss limits, and maintenance agreements and by providing title opinions in connection with watershed projects.

The Pesticide Bureau of the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is also represented by the division. The division assists in collecting administrative penalties regarding pesticide handling violations.

The division serves as general counsel to the Iowa Comprehensive Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Fund Board. General counsel duties include advising the board on issues relating to the UST remedial action program; reviewing and drafting UST legislative proposals; assisting in the rulemaking process; and handling administrative contested cases. General counsel duties also include contract drafting and review, negotiations, and handling personnel issues for the board. In addition, the division handles cost recovery efforts requested by the board pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 455G and assists the DNR and board in evaluating corrective action proposals at contaminated sites.

The division represents the State Archaeologist, and provides legal assistance to the National Guard and the State Historical Society on real estate matters. The division also advises, as needed, the Iowa Commissioner to the Midwest Interstate Low-level Radioactive Waste Commission, the Iowa Nebraska Boundary Commission, and the Energy Fund Disbursement Council.

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