A federal judge in North Dakota has indefinitely delayed the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule that was to go into effect today, but the delay applies only in the 13 states that filed a lawsuit challenging the rule. Iowa is not one of those 13 states.
Senator Chuck Grassley says congress will try to keep the EPA from implementing the rules nationwide, “which would be to put an amendment on the appropriation bill for EPA saying none of the money in this appropriations bill can be used to carry out ‘Waters of the U.S.’ and that’s in both appropriations bills of the House and the Senate.”
Grassley says the proposed EPA rules greatly expand the number of streams and creeks in Iowa that would be subject to federal regulation.
“Historically, a navigable river was only meant to cover how far up big commercial ships could go up a river, not streams in Iowa that you can’t even paddle a canoe in,” Grassley says.
Attorney Chris Gruenhagen is the Iowa Farm Bureau’s government relations counsel and her group’s analysis has concluded 97 percent of Iowa now will be subject to EPA and Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction.
“Any water that either flows or stands on your farm or in your backyard if it’s located within 4,000 feet of a tributary and then tributaries are really defined as anything where you can see evidence of water flow,” she says. “So it’s really an all-encompassing definition.” Grunhagen contends that means gullies in a corn field that fill up and drain out during a rain storm would be subject to federal oversight.
A spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency says the Clean Water Rule “is fundamental to protecting and restoring the nation’s water resources.”
Due to the court injunction, the rule will not be implemented in the neighboring states of Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota, but land in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois as well as in Iowa will be covered by the new rule.
(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars & Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)