Iowa’s congressional delegation already is asking President-elect Donald Trump to eliminate the waters of the United States rule, which is now tied up in federal court.
A number of court challenges are expected to play out in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati in 2017, as oral arguments are on track to begin sometime after March. In recent weeks, the court allowed 88 members of Congress to file a joint friend of the court brief in support of the plaintiffs in the cases.
In that brief, the members of Congress claim the rule encroaches on traditional state powers to regulate water.
On Monday, Iowa lawmakers including Republicans Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. Joni Ernst, wrote a letter to Trump asking for the next president to take action immediately after being sworn into office.
Trump ran on a platform that included scaling back government regulation and has said he would appoint a new administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who is farmer-friendly.
Reuters reported last week Trump may be considering two George W. Bush-era officials to head EPA. That includes Jeff Holmstead, an energy industry attorney who was an assistant administrator for the agency’s office of air and radiation from 2001 to 2005. In addition, Reuters reported also in the running is lobbyist Mike Catanzaro, who was an associate deputy administrator at EPA from 2005 to 2007.
“We write to you today to express our strong concern about the Environmental Protection Agency’s waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS), and we respectfully urge you to do everything within your power as chief executive to stop this harmful rule in the first days of your presidency,” the Iowa delegation’s letter to Trump said.
Joining Grassley and Ernst in signing the letter were Reps. David Young, Steve King and Rod Blum.
“This misguided WOTUS rule is an economic assault on small businesses, manufacturing and agriculture, and threatens the very livelihood of our fellow Iowans,” the letter said.
“These industries are the backbone of this country, especially in rural America. The election results signaled that Americans are ready for the last eight years of EPA’s power grabbing mentality to come to an end.”
The lawmakers told Trump the Clean Water Act was designed to protect navigable waters and to improve water quality as part of state-federal partnership.
“While we fully support this goal, the scope of the expanded WOTUS definition far exceeds what was originally intended by Congress when it enacted the CWA,” the letter said.
“Under the guise of protecting clean water, the current administration’s EPA is not just seeking to expand its jurisdiction over waters not originally covered under the CWA, but also on private land. For example, the WOTUS rule could give EPA extensive power to regulate activities on 97% of the land in Iowa. This rule will no doubt leave our nation’s job creators in a wave of legal uncertainty, compliance burdens and increased costs.”
The lawmakers touted legislative efforts last year to scrap the rule. Both chambers of Congress passed a resolution of disapproval that was vetoed by the Obama administration.
“Thankfully, a nationwide stay has been placed on the rule by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, but it could be years until this litigation is settled,” the Iowa delegation writes.
“Meanwhile, the business owners, farmers, ranchers and private landowners in communities across the country are left with uncertainty, and are concerned that the EPA will continue to take steps to implement the rule through a piecemeal approach.
“As mentioned above, we strongly encourage you to use all the tools at your disposal to free the American people from this blatant overreach. We also respectfully urge you to direct your EPA to craft a common-sense rule that clarifies the scope of the CWA and does so by taking into consideration the input of all stakeholders.”