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Congresswoman Ashley Hinson was joined by Representatives Randy Feenstra (IA-04) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02) in sending a letter to both U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan urging the EPA not to repeal the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule and expressing concern over reports that the Administration is considering ethanol blend mandate reprieves to oil refiners, which would devastate Iowa’s biofuel industry.

The lawmakers wrote: “The link between energy policy and agricultural policy is not only strong, but it is co-dependent. We ask that you please make a commitment to ensure these conversations about clean water and biofuels are not one-sided. Conversations and decisions need not only to come from both USDA and EPA together, but also from real farmers in rural America who understand the art and science of farming deeper than any of us are able to from behind our desks. To empower our farmers, the Administration needs to listen to their concerns, suggestions, and expertise to make an informed decision.”

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Secretary Vilsack and Administrator Regan,

We write to express deep concern and ask you to stand up for Iowa’s agriculture sector following the recent news of administrative actions that would cause direct detriment to the entire region. In the last week alone, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announced its intent to repeal the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule, followed by media reporting by Reuters that President Biden is favoring oil refineries over biofuel producers. The report indicates that the Administration is considering ethanol blend mandate reprieves to oil refiners. Combined with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule repeal announcement, this was a one-two punch to America’s producers who feed and fuel the country.

President Obama’s 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule infringed on the rights of farmers by overreaching and controlling how they manage their own land. Under the 2015 Obama-era rule, 97 percent of land in Iowa would be defined as a watershed under federal regulation, placing an egregious burden on the farmers and producers. These same farmers understand their land and runoff flows far better than bureaucrats, and they care deeply about clean water and conservation. WOTUS would have destroyed the agriculture industry and stifled economic growth. It is evident that this decision was made without any input or consideration from the experts who are most impacted by the rule: farmers.

We ask that as you work to establish a new rule to keep our waters clean, you prioritize collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and EPA. Further, we ask you to ensure that farmers have a seat at the table. The farmers of our heartland share the same goal of keeping water clean and preserving land, so providing them a voice in the decision-making process would enable the Administration to make the best advised and most effective policies in this area.

Our farmers require certainty and stability from the harvest to the market. It is unfair for Iowa biofuel producers’ livelihoods to be at the mercy of unclear commitments and a potential waive in blend mandates for oil refineries. Higher blends of ethanol are an immediate clean energy solution; the Administration should demonstrate steadfast support for biofuels producers and increased use of ethanol, instead of neglecting their importance and wavering on the value of this proven clean energy solution. The potential threat of stripping the biofuels industry of one of its most important and stable markets is a disservice to the farmers who commit their entire lives to feeding and fueling the country.

We understand that both of you hail from agriculture states and understand the importance of our farmers. The link between energy policy and agricultural policy is not only strong, but it is co-dependent. We ask that you please make a commitment to ensure these conversations about clean water and biofuels are not one-sided. Conversations and decisions need not only to come from both USDA and EPA together, but also from real farmers in rural America who understand the art and science of farming deeper than any of us are able to from behind our desks. To empower our farmers, the Administration needs to listen to their concerns, suggestions, and expertise to make an informed decision. Our producers have faced countless challenges over the past two years, and the federal government should be doing everything possible to ensure we are easing, not adding, obstacles.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to working with you to fulfill our commitment to farmers.

Sincerely,

Ashley Hinson

Randy Feenstra

Mariannette Miller-Meeks

Author: Press Release