Statement Of Elizabeth Christiansen
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
Iowa City, Iowa
April 15, 2003
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
My name is Liz Christiansen. I am the Deputy Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). That department has the responsibility of protecting the health of our citizens through our environmental protection activities. We work hard to ensure that Iowa's air, water and land resources are the highest quality. Governor Vilsack also believes that the quality of life of Iowa's seniors is a primary issue for the state. From health care to senior housing issues, and, of course, to environmental concerns such as water quality, our Governor asserts the needs of seniors in Iowa's state-administered programs and in his long term goals for Iowa. I would like to give you a few examples of the work that DNR is accomplishing in our state toward that end. During the last year, we have been working with EPA, Iowa businesses, and our citizens regarding ambient air quality standards. This is an important issue for us. The State is expanding public health protections by adopting new standards for ammonia, and hydrogen sulfite gases, designed to protect even the most vulnerable members of the public from chronic, acute exposures, these standards will not only better protect those living near large, animal-confinement operations but also people residing in urban areas where industries may emit these contaminants. Already the State has begun air quality monitoring as its first step in facilitating this program. Another important program is to improve Iowa's impaired waters ensuring that they are swim-able, fish-able and drink-able for all Iowans. Our Governor has established an ambitious goal of eliminating all of Iowa's impaired waterways, which currently total 188 by 2010. One of our core programs for accomplishing this goal is by setting pollution thresholds, called Total Maximum Daily Loads or TMDLs for each of these waterways. In other words, we will establish the maximum level of pollution allowed in these lakes, rivers and streams so that they may be usable and drinkable. This will minimize the potential health risks associated with high nitrates, other nutrients, pesticides and filtration. A vast network of Iowa and federal government agencies are working together to achieve this goal. We do this work because we want to ensure Iowa is a healthy place to live and to call home. We are especially concerned about protecting our sensitive populations that include the very young, those who are immune-deficient and, of course, senior citizens. In fact, like EPA, we are required to consider the health of these more vulnerable groups as our bottom-line standard when establishing policies and programs. I would like to take this moment to strenuously request OMB reevaluate its new calculations for monetary costs of environmental impacts as they relate to the people over the age of 70. Age should not be a factor in valuing life and this policy in direct contradiction to EPA's and DNR's long term stance in protecting sensitive groups including seniors. These are the principles of Iowa and their citizens. We, at the DNR, look forward to continuing working closely with each of you to ensure healthy environments. I encourage those of you here to contact us and to come and see me after our meeting if you have suggestions about how we can better serve the needs of Iowa's seniors. The link between health and a healthy environment is closer than ever and it is up to us to work together to improve the quality of life for our seniors. Thank you for this time.