WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, highlighted the flaws of the expanded definition of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule at today’s hearing entitled, “A Review of the Technical, Scientific, and Legal Basis of the WOTUS Rule.”
The Iowa Senator questioned not only the basis for the Obama administration’s claim to include ephemeral streams, or water that flows after rainfall, under the expanded definition of the WOTUS rule, but also criticized the impact this broad definition has on our farmers’ ability to manage their own land. The Senator highlighted a case in California that designated dried out plowed furrows as “mini mountain ranges” and included them under the expanded definition of the WOTUS rule.
Hearing witness and Solicitor General of the State of Wisconsin, Misha Tseytlin, agreed with Senator Ernst on the dangers of such jurisdictional expansion, noting “the American Farm Bureau, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and farm bureaus all over the country oppose, very strongly, the WOTUS rule.”
Senator Ernst also pointed out that “by these definitions, the entire expanded definition, 97 percent of the State of Iowa is regulated by that expanded definition and considered ‘Waters of the US.”
Click here or on the image below to watch Senator Ernst’s questioning.
On regulating ephemeral streams, which flow only after rainfall (0:33 mark): “As part of their propaganda campaign that the Government Accountability Office found to be illegal, the Obama EPA tried to get people to believe that unless they regulate ephemeral water—which by definition is a ‘stream that flows only briefly during and following a period of rainfall,’ so essentially rainwater runoff—that the drinking water of 117 million people would be at risk… EPA put up a map on their website to support this claim.”
“However, if you read EPA’s ‘Summary of the Analysis’ … you find out that EPA based this claim on a study of streams that are visible at medium resolution… At this scale, you are only going to see major streams. Does a study of those major streams at that scale have anything to do with ephemeral streams?”
On the impact on farmers, Senator Ernst cited a case in California that required a permit for a farmer to plow his own land (3:41 mark): “In that case, the Corps and the Department of Justice claimed that a farmer needed a permit to plow his own land because the tops … of plowed furrows dry out in the sun and constitute, and no jokes folks, ‘mini mountain ranges,’ ‘mini mountain ranges’ so plowing doesn’t qualify as an ordinary farming activity. My farmers would beg to differ.
“Here is a picture of those ‘mountain ranges,’ from the report written by DOJ’s expert witness. I guess under this definition, Iowa is one of the more mountainous states in the United States.
“What is left of the ordinary farming exemptions if you can’t even plow your soil?”