Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
On the Dangers of Restoring the Outdated WOTUS Rule
Monday, June 14, 2021

For the past 41 years, I’ve toured our state to hear from Iowa workers, community leaders and farmers at my annual 99 county meetings.
As a farmer myself, I enjoy speaking with those involved in agriculture across the state who tell me they are third, fourth and fifth-generation farmers. These folks use the same soil and barns as their grandfathers before them.
Everyone I speak with intends to leave their land to their children better than they found it when it was entrusted to their care.
Between the use of cover crops, buffer strips and no-till farming, more conservation practices than ever before are being used on Iowa’s 35 million acres of farmland.
And while Iowa farmers are continuing to feed our country and the world, they are doing so with fewer inputs, and better soil and water outcomes.
Iowa farmers should be congratulated. But it seems like there is always a target on their back.
Last week, it was reported that the Biden administration is moving forward to add red tape to their operations by rewriting the Trump Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
In my first telephone conversation with then EPA Nominee Administrator Regan, I warned him against moving back to the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation because of the burden that it placed on rural areas including Iowa farmland.
In fact, under the old WOTUS rule, 97 percent of Iowa’s land would have been subject to jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
Adding more federal red tape to a farmer’s day-to-day decisions on the farm is government overreach, plain and simple.
But besides Iowa’s 86,000 farmers, a change in the Trump Navigable Water Protection Rule will also result in significant red tape and expense for home builders, golf course managers and construction companies as they make routine decisions about how best to use their land and run their businesses.
Imagine that, not only have new home prices risen due to inflation and soaring lumber prices, now home prices will continue to increase due to additional permitting that wasn’t previously needed.
To clear up common confusion, the Trump-era rule did not give polluter’s free rein to discharge pollution with no regard for the health of our nation’s waterways.
Regulating the discharge of pollution into waterways is important and is done through other parts of the Clean Water Act.
The Trump rule made sure that where routine land-use decisions were being made, with little or no environmental impact, then those decisions would not be regulated by the federal government.
EPA’s release about its intention to overturn the Navigable Water Protection Rule mentions that 333 projects would have required permits by the Obama WOTUS rule that did not need government paperwork under the Navigable Water Protection Rule.  
This is exactly the point.
If you are simply moving dirt to level off a low point in a field, should that need a federal permit?
If a golf course is fixing a bunker or flattening a green, should that need a federal permit?
The obvious commonsense answer to both is no. What good does this red tap do anyone?
I want to underline the point. My Republican colleagues and I want clean water and healthy soil.
For our families and communities, this is important.
But what I don’t want is a federal government power grab that adds so much red tape to routine land use decisions that it slows our economy to a halt.
If the Biden administration decides to go down this road of reverting to the Obama-era WOTUS, they will be seriously misguided.
For an Administration that is so focused on updating our nation’s infrastructure, why does it make sense to propose rule that only adds costs and delays construction with no identifiable benefit?
I urge President Biden and EPA Administrator Regan to listen to the farmers and landowners across the country.

Wave WOTUS goodbye, and put away the red tape.