Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt met with Iowa farmers, elected officials, and ag industry leaders to hear feedback on re-writing the Waters of the U.S. Rule or (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. A roundtable took place at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation in West Des Moines Tuesday.
“I want to thank Administrator Pruitt for traveling to Iowa to hear directly from our farmers about how the WOTUS rule will affect them and how we can work together to get the next version of this rule right,” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said.
Reynolds says the administration continues to show a willingness to partner with states.
“The 2015 WOTUS rule released during the Obama administration was a massive federal land grab, creating confusion and uncertainty for regulators, farmers, ranchers and others who depend on their ability to work the land,” Reynolds said.
The 2015 rule redefined what was considered a water of the U.S. It described a water as being a puddle, dry creek bed, and drainage ditch. This upset many farmers and ranchers across the country because it created a lot of confusion.
Other officials who attended the roundtable included Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, who is also rumored to have a position at USDA but has not been officially announced. Northey said they had a lot of good conversation about the water quality efforts farmers are doing in Iowa.
“Including nutrient reduction wetlands. Those can get stuck in the definition of the old rule about a permitting process that could delay the process of putting a water quality practice that would reduce nutrients coming off farmland by 50% yet it would get held up,” Northey said.
Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill also attended the roundtable.
“This new rule will hopefully provide clarity to farmers. There were 371 electronic pages and 107,686 words that should have not been written and we’re pleased to afford our farmers something more corresponding to the clean water act which we support,” Hill said.
Senators’ Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst also attended. Sources said around 50 or so organizations and farmers attended the roundtable including surrounding states.
Administrator Pruitt has been traveling around the country to 26 states hearing feedback before the comment period on the rule ends August 28. Pruitt spoke to members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Last Chance, Colorado last week.
“This rule created great uncertainty. It created grave situations where people were facing fines and penalties using their own land and we want to fix that. We’re trying to fulfill the promises making sure stakeholders are heard and get this fixed moving forward,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt said the administration hopes to get this done by the first quarter of next year.
The public is invited to submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov.