Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is accusing the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of overstepping her authority in trying to more closely regulate Iowa’s waterways. EPA administrator Gina McCarthy issued a proposal last week that outlines which rivers, streams and wetlands would be federally-protected by the Clean Water Act.
Grassley, a Republican, says the proposed changes go too far. “She’s assuming jurisdiction over waterways that may not even have water in them,” Grassley says. “So, if they don’t have water in them, how are you going to get a boat of a certain size in them? You’re not even going to get a canoe in them and she’s claiming jurisdiction over riverbeds that you might not even be able to get a canoe into.”
Critics of the EPA proposal include officials with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, who fear tighter federal regulation of waterways will hurt farmers and the ag industry. Grassley agrees. “This is a nonconstitutional act as far as I’m concerned,” Grassley says. “I bet if it ever gets to the Supreme Court, they’ll say so, because we’ve had some Supreme Court decisions in recent years curbing the power in this area, more the Corps of Engineers, but this is where you get EPA involved in it as well.”
Grassley says McCarthy, who was nominated to the EPA post by President Obama just over a year ago, is getting her marching orders from the White House.
“It’s just a perfect example of the president of the United States saying, ‘I’ve got a pen and a phone and if congress won’t, I will,'” Grassley says. “That’s very authoritarian, very dictatorial, very unconstitutional.”
In a statement, Grassley says: “Changes to this federal rule may open a can of worms for farmers.” He’s concerned farm ponds, drainage ditches, culverts, dams and dry creek beds could soon fall under the EPA.