MUSCATINE, Iowa — The local group Clean Air Muscatine says it wants to be part of any negotiations between the state of Iowa and Grain Processing Corp. in the wake of last week’s lawsuit against the company by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief against GPC for alleged air quality and water pollution control violations
The nonprofit group has retained attorney Jim Larew, an aide to former Gov. Chet Culver, to gain what’s called intervenor status as the lawsuit moves forward.
Larew, who spoke following Tuesday night’s public screening of the film “Southend,” said that CLAM wants to be part of any negotiations between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Commission and the company.
“Our client is concerned that citizens have a right to be heard,” Larew said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s very common in regulatory law that the regulated party (in this case, GPC) and the regulator (the state) will come to some agreement to remedy the situation, write up an order to resolve it and submit it to the court.”
Larew said his client wants to be part of the remedy, before it’s submitted to the court.
He said he hopes the Attorney General’s office supports CLAM’s bid to become an intervenor, which would allow the group to be present and offer input.
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Ultimately, though, it will be up to the judge to decide, following a hearing.
Larew said he has not yet heard back from Iowa Assistant Attorney General David R. Sheridan, the lawyer in the Environmental Law Division who filed the lawsuit, over whether Miller’s office supports CLAM’s request.
CLAM president Sandy Stanley said hiring Larew is “a way to get potentially more assistance for people in the Muscatine area and give them a voice at the table.”
“We’re trying to make Muscatine a better place to live,” she added. “There is greater potential this way than to meet with GPC
“The State of Iowa has more power than we do. This is a way to get a seat at the table. For a long time people have felt like they couldn’t do anything, but with this [step] we are able to do something.”