Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed air quality legislation for livestock confinements because he contends the limits are too lenient.

"It is believed that, under this standard, there is not a single confinement facility in the state of Iowa that would have any fear of violating this standard," says Vilsack.

House File 2523 set standards for hydrogen sulfide and ammonia that lawmakers, mostly Republican, say are based on sound science. They used levels recommended by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control.

"I thought that, OK, here's somebody that doesn't have any politics to play here and these numbers are going to be something that everybody can buy into," says Rep. Sandra Greiner, a Keota Republican who guided the bill through the House. "But as I said, there are people that don't want to see this issue die."

Vilsack says the Legislature's proposed limit for hydrogen sulfide, 70 parts per billion, was much more lenient than outdoor air standards of 50 parts per billion in Missouri and Minnesota, or 30 parts per billion in California.

But Greiner says some states have no air-quality standard at all. "This would have certainly been way ahead of those states," she adds. "There are more states that don't have standards than states that do."

Members of the activist group, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and the dean of the University of Iowa College of Public Health, praised the veto.

However, Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Lang, a Brooklyn farmer, called the veto a "missed opportunity."

"Legislators worked hard this session to establish air quality standards consistent with numbers proposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control," says. "Yet, with a stroke of the pen, Governor Vilsack closed the door on an opportunity to move Iowa forward."

To reach a compromise, Vilsack has directed the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to revise a proposed 15-parts-per-billion hydrogen sulfide limit to a 30-parts-per-billion limit for 60 minutes, as recommended by a new Centers for Disease Control study.

Vilsack predicts the revised proposal would pass a legislative committee assigned to review rules. But Lang calls the new proposal "equally troublesome," saying it's 100 times more restrictive than federal levels.

Greiner expects the Legislature to debate the issue next year. She contends that adopting limits that are too strict would force the livestock industry to move out of Iowa.

Des Moines Register