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Sunday Talk: Ernst Urges Senate: Don’t Mess with New WOTUS Rule

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee, is leading a Senate resolution that expresses the need for the U.S. Senate to stand with workers, farmers, manufacturers, and businesses by upholding the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection rule, which replaced the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

“When the Obama-Biden administration attempted to regulate nearly 97% of the land in Iowa with their WOTUS rule, I fought back and stood up for the livelihoods of hardworking Americans. We won that fight; a new, more flexible WOTUS rule was put in place. Now, the Biden Administration is working at a rapid pace to undo this work,” said Senator Ernst, the daughter of a farmer. “Everyone should agree that clean water should be a national priority. But I can’t stand by and allow for another Washington power grab that will make it harder for Iowans to farm, ranch, and build. I’m urging my colleagues to join me in standing up for workers, farmers, manufacturers, and businesses.”

U. S. Senator Joni Ernst

Senator Ernst led 25 of her colleagues in this resolution, including Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), James Risch (R-Idaho), John Barasso (R-Wyo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

Background:

In 2015, the Obama Administration finalized a rule that expanded the definition of the Waters of the United States—giving the federal government authority to regulate water on 97 percent of the land in Iowa—and creating confusion and burdensome red tape for Iowa’s agriculture industry and many others. Immediately, Senator Ernst took action and introduced legislation that would have nullified the Obama Administration’s rule. After passing both the House and Senate—with bipartisan support—the bill was vetoed by President Obama.

Before his inauguration, Ernst signaled her intention to work with President Trump and his administration to get Obama’s harmful WOTUS rule off the books. The Trump Administration released a proposed rule to replace the Obama Administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule with a new rule that provided much-needed predictability and certainty for farmers by establishing clear and reasonable definitions of what qualifies as a “water of the United States.” The new Navigable Waters Protection Rule was finalized last year.

Ernst has also helped introduce the Define WOTUS Act, a bill to legislatively define the “waters of the United States,” and make a reasonable, workable definition of the term permanent.

Now, on day one of his administration, President Biden signed an executive order that would roll back the Trump Administration’s executive order which began the process of rescinding Obama’s WOTUS rule. That’s why Ernst put forward this resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the Navigable Waters Protection Rule should not be withdrawn or vacated.

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