Tom Vilsack on Environment

Democratic IA Governor


OpEd: Rule changes harmed processing workers and animals

Under Vilsack, the USDA moved forward with major changes in meat processing regulation, which served to make the process more dangerous for workers and animals, and less costly for producers. The first reduced the number of federal inspectors at poultry plants and delegated more authority over inspections to meat companies. The second effort proposed an increase in line speeds at poultry plants, from 140 birds per minute to 175.
Source: Reason magazine on Biden Cabinet , Dec 19, 2020

Cut food waste in half by 2030

In 2011, the European Commission established the goal of cutting edible food waste in the EU in half by 2020. The US is behind the EU but not by much. In September of last year, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack joined with the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and the Obama Administration by announcing the first-ever food reduction goal--cutting food waste in half by 2030. The United States is joining other global leaders in vowing to reduce food waste.

These steps by regulators are in important piece of the puzzle, but consumers have an important role to play in this global problem. Will a new Ad Council campaign, "Save the Food," help shift perspectives? Will the national goal set by the federal government's top health and environmental agencies motivate consumers? Do consumers need clear directions from policymakers and legislation (also known as landfill bans, municipal composting requirements, date labeling standardization) to force change?

Source: 2016 Veepstakes: Huffington Post, "Reducing Food Waste" , May 9, 2016

More investment in production of bio-fuels & bio-materials

From here, we have more to do--much more. And President Obama has a detailed plan for a new rural economy: more support for small businesses making, creating and innovating; more investment in the production of bio-fuels and other bio-materials; more trade and more markets. Rural Americans want leaders who help middle-class communities to plan and prosper over the long-term--not opportunists who reap the rewards for themselves, leaving nothing for the people who do the sowing. They deserve leaders who appreciate their contributions, who believe in their potential, and who care enough to invest in their communities. And that's what they have in President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 5, 2012

Vetoed a bill that failed to adequately protect health

Although House File 2523 was touted as the “air quality bill” by legislators, the fact is that the Minimal Risk Levels established in this bill fail to adequately protect the health of Iowans. The levels established in the bill misrepresent the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations by allowing exposures for longer time periods than recommended and by failing to require immediate responses to exceedences of those standards.
Source: Veto Message , Apr 13, 2004

Burn waste oat hulls to save energy costs

Vilsack announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted his request for a waiver of an EPA permit review, which will allow the University of Iowa power plant to burn waste oat hulls from Quaker Foods and Beverages in Cedar Rapids. The project will reduce the use of coal by 20,000 to 30,000 tons per year and save the university more than half a million dollars each year in energy costs.
Source: Press Release , Apr 13, 2004

Vetoed a bill without adequate environmental safeguards

I do not want to sign a bill into law that would immunize from any accountability those who bear some or all responsibility for causing injury or death. A buyer of land who had nothing to do with causing the property to become environmentally contaminated, could nonetheless be fully and knowingly responsible for causing completely innocent Iowans to become exposed to and injured or killed by the contaminants that already existed on the land at the time of purchase.
Source: Veto Message , Mar 31, 2004

Fund solutions for runoff contaminating waterways

Other federal priorities include funding of solutions to prevent runoff contaminating lakes, rivers and streams; and funding for full implementation of the Conservation Security Program.
Source: Press Release , Jan 23, 2004

Replace MTBE in gasoline with cleaner ethanol.

Vilsack signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Ethanol 00-MGC1 on May 25, 2000

More state autonomy on brownfields & Superfund cleanups.

Vilsack adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), otherwise known as Superfund, was created to clean up the worst hazardous waste sites across the country and to recoup expenses from responsible parties. Since the law was enacted in 1980, the Superfund program has caused significant amounts of litigation, while cleanup of hazardous waste sites has not been as fast or effective as the statute envisioned. In addition, states have not had the necessary tools or funding from the federal government to adequately clean up state sites. “Brownfields” sites—abandoned or undeveloped non-Superfund industrial or commercial sites under state jurisdiction—have gained increasing attention from Congress in recent years as passage of a comprehensive Superfund package has become increasingly unlikely.

NGA’s Position

NGA supports the reauthorization of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. NGA policy calls for more opportunities for states to take authority for cleanup of National Priorities List (NPL) sites, increased autonomy and funding over brownfield sites, and the concurrence of a Governor before a site can be listed on the NPL.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA15 on Aug 1, 2001

Support State Revolving Loan Fund for flexible Clean Water.

Vilsack adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

The Clean Water Act (CWA) has not been reauthorized since 1987. At that time, provisions were added to address nonpoint source pollution, pollution from diffuse sources such as runoff of fertilizers and pesticides, stormwater runoff, and sediment. Governors and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disagree on the best approach to addressing the problem of nonpoint source pollution.

NGA’s Position

NGA supports the reauthorization of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 (the Clean Water Act). The Governors support an increased focus on watershed management planning, including funding for the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) and nonpoint source pollution programs. States should have the flexibility to develop plans for attaining federally approved water quality standards in impaired waters - in consultation with local government officials and stakeholders - and to allocate responsibility for cleanup among contributors. The TMDL regulations should be revised, by legislation if necessary, to give states adequate flexibility, funding, and time to address impaired waters.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA9 on Aug 1, 2001

More EPA flexibility on interstate ozone.

Vilsack signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Clean Air 98-MGC2 on May 12, 1998

Maintain joint EPA-state authority over nuclear waste.

Vilsack adopted a letter to Senate leaders from 4 Governors:

On behalf of the nation’s Governors we write in opposition to provisions contained in the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1999. Specifically, we object to Section 103, which removes authority from the EPA to set radiation protection standards at the proposed high-level nuclear waste storage facility. Section 103 is in direct conflict with NGA’s Policy NR-8,Environmental Compliance at Federal Facilities, which was unanimously reaffirmed at the Governors’ annual meeting in August. NGA policy NR-8 is based on the premise that

The problems of environmental cleanup and compliance at federal facilities are deep-rooted. Contamination and environmental degradation are the result of years of mismanagement and neglect. They reflect noncompliance with federal policies, unclear or inadequate laws and regulations, institutional attitudes that devalue environmental concerns, and the reluctance of federal agencies to work with federal and state regulators.
NGA policy NR-8 recommends that
Congress should amend applicable federal laws to ensure that all wastes, including radioactive wastes and munitions, are within the purview of state and EPA authorities. Efforts should be made to coordinate all federal requirements. In addition, Congress should require that all quasi-federal sovereign businesses and corporations meet the same environmental compliance standards as other federal agencies.
Section 103 removes EPA authority to set radiation standards at the proposed high-level nuclear waste storage facility and is contrary to the NGA policy recommendation that both EPA and states should have authority over radioactive wastes. It is a disturbing precedent that could lead to further dilution of state and EPA authority to set environmental standards at federal facilities and coordinate eventual clean-up activities in all 50 states.
Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 99-NGA22 on Oct 21, 1999

Other candidates on Environment: Tom Vilsack on other issues:
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Page last updated: Sep 01, 2021