Many questions were raised by producers about the environmental ideas raised by the Biden campaign during the election season. Many were worried how much regulation would be enforced, and how much control they would lose to the federal government over their land. Now that we are looking at a Biden administration in 2021, but a good possibility of a Republican-controlled Senate, there will need to be more negotiation. Iowa’s Senior Senator Chuck Grassley talked about his concerns over environmental policies.
The Biden team has outlined a program they have dubbed the “Climate 21 Project.” This 300-page blueprint would work to reverse Trump Administration changes to environmental policies enacted during the Obama Administration. Many of these initiatives are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One program calls for a carbon bank at the United States Department of Agriculture. This bank would pay farmers and foresters for storing carbon on their land. The proposal is gaining a lot of traction, even among some prominent Ag groups. Senator Grassley says he is still studying the plan to see if it could benefit Iowa producers. However, his biggest concern does not lie there. His eyes are focused squarely on a possible return of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.
The controversial rule was enacted under President Obama, and many farmers and Ag groups protested what they felt was an overreach of the federal government into the states’ authority to regulate their lands. Many states even argued that the WOTUS rules were not as strict as their own water quality programs and would supersede their plans.
The Trump Administration repealed the WOTUS rule and replaced it with the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Ag groups praised the change, saying that it did away with unnecessary government overreach. Environmental groups argue that the plan is not strong enough to protect the quality of water. There have been many arguments that the Trump Administration’s environmental policies were going too far and reversing the work that was being done to combat climate change and the quality of land, air, and water.
Grassley commented that WOTUS was enacted by President Obama’s Executive Order. It was repealed by President Trump’s Executive Order. There is nothing to indicate that President-Elect Joe Biden wouldn’t follow the same course as his predecessors. Grassley also vowed to do all he could to stop a return to the WOTUS rule.
The use of Executive Orders in the Obama Administration was heavily criticized by Republicans. Now, as the Trump Administration has been doing the same thing, Democrats have cried foul. There is a high probability that a Biden Administration would follow suit. During the last 12 years, one thing has become certain. Congressional members on both sides of the aisle are not excited about Presidents using their power to legislate from the oval office. At least not when the President is of the opposing party.