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Agriculture

US Senate Committee Hears Objections to Waters of the US Rule

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Amy Mayer/Iowa Public Radio
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The EPA wants to clarify what waterways it has authority over. Some say that could increase its reach on agricultural lands.

The U.S. Senate agriculture committee heard testimony today on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

Nearly a year ago, the EPA proposed a change to the Clean Water Act that it says would clarify its authority over certain wetlands and streams. But Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who serves on the agriculture committee, says the proposal has met strong opposition in farm country.

“I’ve heard a great deal of concern from farmers, businessmen, communities across Iowa regarding this rule,” Grassley says. “It’s apparent that WOTUS hasn’t clarified much at all.  The only thing that citizens seem to be sure of is that it will grant the EPA much greater authority.”

At the hearing in Washington, state and county leaders from Kansas, Colorado and other states testified against the proposal. Senators also heard from farmers, ranchers and agribusiness executives.  

Grassley says he’s concerned the proposed rule will be overly burdensome to agriculture. He and others fear small ponds and streams on private farmland would fall under EPA scrutiny if the rule becomes law.