Grassley, Ernst respond to EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule

Waters of the USBy The Iowa Statesman


Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a final rule on the Waters of the United States.  Both of Iowa’s senators responded to the new rule.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, an outspoken critic of the EPA’s rulemaking in this area, has pressed for the agency to restart the rulemaking, and has voiced concern about the impact the rule will have on agricultural interests.  He made the following statement after the rule was announced.

“The EPA had a chance to bring all stakeholders to the table and craft a final rule that involved all interested parties.  Instead, it looks like the agency tweaked a bad proposal making it slightly better, but this rule needed a complete overhaul,” he said. “The indifferent attitude that the EPA took toward agriculture is a real concern for Iowans who know the impact agriculture has on the state’s economy.  And, at first glance, the rule still appears to be a problem for agriculture.  The rule could result in significant red tape and expense for Iowa farmers as they make routine decisions about how best to use their land, even ironically hampering projects to improve water quality.

Grassley is a cosponsor of a bipartisan bill in the Senate to require that the Waters of the United States rule be completely revised with stakeholder input.  He also is a cosponsor of legislation that would clearly define the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction in the law rather than leaving it to the EPA.

“The problem remains that Congress too broadly defined the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act when it wrote the law, he added. “So, Congress has a role to play in clarifying the congressional intent in either the appropriations process or stand-alone legislation.”

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst earlier this month introduced Iowa farmer and small business owner Darcy Maulsby to testify on the impact of Waters of the U.S. before the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and shared her personal experience with the harmful impact and over-regulation by the EPA in Iowa. In February, she invited EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to Iowa to see the potential impact of over-regulation.

Following the announcement of the final rule, she made the following statement.

“I am still reviewing the lengthy nature of this final rule, however, I remain concerned that the EPA did not seriously consider the comments and perspective from whom this rule will directly effect. The EPA has repeatedly ignored the legitimate concerns raised throughout this process and continues to act as an unchecked federal agency of the Obama Administration,” she said. “Iowans have voiced their concern. In fact, just last week Mrs. Darcy Dougherty Maulsby, a fifth-generation farmer and small business owner from Lake City, Iowa, testified before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on the impact of the WOTUS rule, and shared her personal experience with the EPA’s harmful impact and overregulation in Iowa.”

Ernst said the EPA wants to continue this overreach, expanding its power over family farms, small businesses, ranchers, and other landowners in our rural communities. Every community wants clean water and to protect our nation’s waterways, she added, but mounting unnecessary environmental regulations cannot be allowed to “overwhelm the common sense voice of hardworking Americans.”

“I remain committed to fighting for our agriculture communities not only in Iowa, but across this country, and will work to stop any harmful impact this rule will have,” she said.