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Randy Feenstra: Waters of U.S. rule is overreach, burdensome on agriculture

The Globe Gazette
By Rep. Randy Feenstra (IA-04)

Late last year, the Biden Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency quietly finalized and expanded the definition of the Waters of the United States rule. As a result, it cemented the federal government’s increasingly intrusive role in regulating bodies of water – both large and small.

Under this new definition, more than 97% of Iowa’s land, including our productive farmland, would be subject to federal regulation. While protecting our water is an important priority, the EPA’s final WOTUS rule represents federal overreach at its worst.

From rivers and streams to ponds and puddles, the Biden Administration has opened the flood gates to more red tape, paperwork, and headaches for Iowa’s farmers, producers, and agricultural community. Absent consultation with America’s heartland, the EPA expanded the controversial significant nexus test, which determines whether the federal government can regulate farmland miles from the nearest “navigable” water source. This overreaching interpretation of what constitutes both a “significant nexus” and a “navigable” water source would require burdensome permits for simple farming activities like building fences, moving dirt, and plowing.

Born and raised in rural Iowa, I know how red tape can increase input costs and complicate the already difficult business of farming. That’s why I sent a letter, alongside nearly 200 of my congressional colleagues, to EPA Administrator Michael Regan demanding that the Biden Administration rescind its final and destructive WOTUS rule, and instead support farmers and producers in the Midwest who feed and fuel our country and the world. I also helped introduce a joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act, which allows the Congress to hold the Executive Branch accountable for its rulemaking procedures and review onerous new rules, condemning this new WOTUS definition. Farmers are the best stewards of their land and should be treated as such.

Between record inflation, high energy costs, and regulatory uncertainty, farmers are already facing serious hurdles and significant challenges. Federal bureaucrats should not make their work harder. In Congress, I will continue to work with my colleagues to overturn this arduous rule so that we can return local control of farmland back to our agricultural community – where it rightfully belongs.