(Van Meter, IA) Today, David Young, Republican candidate for Iowa’s Third Congressional District, submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding a proposed rule entitled, “Definition of Waters of the United States Under the Clean Water Act.” This rule, if finalized, could redefine water and waterways regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). This rule would allow the EPA to regulate water not traditionally regulated under the CWA, including possibly drainage ditches and dry creek beds, many of which are located on private property. The Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972. Iowa common sense calls into question the EPA randomly deciding it has additional authority over waterways on private property more than forty years after the enactment of the legislation.
“Iowans and Americans value the property rights embedded in the U.S. Constitution, especially regarding the revered nature of farmland. Between this proposed rule, government drones monitoring farms and attempts to regulate dust on farms, the EPA and the federal government continues to believe the rights of farmers and landowners are superseded by the federal government’s authority,” said Young. “I submitted my comments to the EPA on this issue to stand up for common sense and property rights.”
David Young is from Van Meter and was Senator Grassley’s former Chief of Staff. For more information about David please see youngforiowa.com.
David’s comments submitted to the EPA:
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20460
On March 25, 2014, your agency released a proposed rule to clarify the definition of waters of the United States that are regulated under the Clean Water Act. This proposed rule, if finalized, could create a broad definition of waters, which could include culverts, drainage ditches and dry creek beds. This proposed rule could establish more burdensome regulations for farmers and landowners and adversely affect many Iowans and our economy.
The clarifying definition set out by the EPA could give the federal government the ability to regulate waters that are already regulated at the state or local level. The definition the EPA is proposing could overstep its authority over local government and private rights. While this proposed rule was published under the guise of the Clean Water Act, this possible overreach in government authority goes against the Congressional intent of the Act itself. This may be another example of the federal government exceeding its reach.
Iowans understand the importance waterways play in our country’s economic success and environmental future. Maintaining healthy waterways makes sense. However, regulating nonnavigable inland waterways, which may not have water in them, does not make sense.
Under previous Supreme Court cases, such as Rapanos v. United States, the court rejected the notion that citizens need permits when working on isolated inland water bodies adjacent to nonnavigable tributaries of traditional navigable waters. Expanding the application of the Clean Water Act to inland and nonnavigable waters could greatly harm Iowa, as Iowa is home to numerous inland waterways. It would also provide uncertainty for family farmers within the state. Routine maintenance on drainage ditches and pastureland or tiling fields may require federal permits or burdensome financial assessments.
The goal of the proposed rule is to provide clarity, but the 370-page proposal states the agency could still apply case-specific analysis in certain scenarios. This does not provide clear direction from the obscure “significant nexus” phrase penned by Justice Kennedy in Rapanos. The proposal also purports there will be less litigation. However, it is highly likely with this rule we will see more challenges to the EPA’s definition of U.S. waters in the courts. This could be costly and time-consuming for farmers and other property owners.
I urge the Environmental Protection Agency to carefully weigh its proposed rule and its effects on property rights and our economy, as well as how it relates to the original intent of the Clean Water Act.