Branstad joins lawsuit opposing EPA’s WOTUS rule

DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad intervened last week in a case pending in the U.S. District Court of North Dakota Southwestern Division against the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and their Waters of the U.S. rule.

DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad has intervened in a case pending in the U.S. District Court of North Dakota Southwestern Division against the Waters of the U.S. rule.

Branstad joined in support of 13 other states: North Dakota, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming and New Mexico. Nationwide, governors or attorney generals from more than 31 states have taken action to make sure state-based water-quality initiatives, like the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, are not bogged down in Federal bureaucratic red tape.

"The WOTUS rule is a federal overreach that imposes significant barriers and impairs Iowa's ability to advance innovative water-quality practices that would actually advance our common goal of water quality," Branstad said. "I ran for Governor in 2010 to return predictability and stability to Iowa and this federal rule increases, rather than decreases, uncertainty for Iowa farmers and small businesses."

In October 2014, Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and various state leaders commented on the proposed WOTUS rule and stated that the federal government's rule seems to be more concerned with federal control over local water bodies than actually improving water quality.

Iowa Corn Growers Association president Bob Hemesath, of Calmar, thanked Branstad for intervening, adding that he is glad Iowa now will have representation in the lawsuit.


"WOTUS puts farmers at considerable risk, because a common farming practice that takes place in or near a defined water could now be in violation of federal law if the farmers have not obtained necessary Clean Water Act permits," Hemesath said.

While this rule making is much needed to clarify which waters need appropriate permits, the final rule made things worse, Hemesath said.

"The rule-making process was flawed and made significant changes without an opportunity to make public comments," Hemesath said. "We are concerned that erosional features, grass waterways, ditches and farmed wetlands will be jurisdictional and require permits, discouraging the continuation of conservation measures. EPA should start over and work with the states, as the states do most of the implementation of the rule."

Phil Reemtsma, president of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, praised the governor's move.

"We are glad that Governor Branstad seems to have a good understanding of how WOTUS could hurt Iowa agriculture," Reemtsma said. "We appreciate his support on this."

The Iowa Cattlemen's Association strongly supports a full repeal of the WOTUS language, Reemtsma said.

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