At a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), who worked tirelessly to scrap the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, introduced and questioned Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser on the negative impacts of the Obama-era WOTUS rule, and the benefits of the Trump Administration’s replacement, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
To watch Mr. Gaesser’s opening statement, click here.
In 2015, the Obama Administration finalized a rule that expanded the definition of WOTUS—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. In late 2018, the Trump Administration released a proposed rule to replace the Obama Administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule with a new rule that provides 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 earlier this year.
In her questioning of Gaesser, Ernst noted that the new WOTUS rule, which is popular with farmers and ranchers, can be undone by future administrations and replaced with the Obama-era rule, or an even more extreme version. For this reason, Ernst 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.