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Reynolds wants ‘clarity,’ but not for Iowa’s dirty water
Our governor is a real joiner.
Last year, Gov. Kim Reynolds joined five states filing a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s college debt repayment plan while she campaigned on providing taxpayer dollars to cover the cost of private school tuition in Iowa.
She joined Republican governors in two dozen states to create the “American Governors’ Border Strike Force” to crack down on undocumented immigrants. Other than striking a tough-on-immigration pose, the impact is unclear.
You might recall Reynolds regretted that Iowa did not join a federal lawsuit filed by Texas seeking to overturn millions of lawful votes in the interest of advancing the fantasy that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.
Now, Reynolds is among 24 Republican governors calling on the Biden administration to delay implementation of federal clean water rules intended to protect wetlands and other smaller water bodies that could carry pollution into the Waters of the United States, or WOTUS.
They want the WOTUS rules delayed until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a case challenging the regulatory scope of the federal Clean Water Act.
“The substance of the rule hinders state governments as we seek to give clarity and consistency to businesses, farms, and individuals regarding the regulatory framework for water,” the governors wrote in a letter.
In Iowa, of course, what’s clear the state doesn’t care our water is dirty. Consistency means doing nothing about cleaning up our water that powerful agricultural interests don’t like. Our regulatory flexibility in the service of agriculture has tied efforts to protect the environment in knots.
Even under rewritten WOTUS rules, the vast majority of farming practices still are exempt from regulations. Farmers and landowners still can install farm drainage tiles carrying polluted runoff into waterways without fear of federal oversight. These are non-point sources of pollution, which are supposed to be regulated by the states. The federal puddle police are not a real thing.
What the new rules would do is seek to protect wetlands and “relatively permanent” waters with a “significant nexus” to Waters of the U.S. That means if a wetland is adjacent to a larger waterway and could affect its water quality, it may qualify for federal protection.
If you’re goal is clean water, protecting these adjacent water bodies makes sense. If your goal is to let developers and other landowners destroy wetlands and disregard the real impact of smaller waterways on larger ones, this is regulatory “overreach.”
Maybe the feds can just urge landowners to voluntarily keep water clean. That’s worked great in Iowa, as nitrates and phosphorus from cropland foul our waterways, threaten drinking water, spawn toxic algae blooms and help create a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
I wish Reynolds and other WOTUS worriers were right, that the feds are riding in to clean up this 23-million-hog state. But that is not happening.
While Reynolds joins Gov. Ron “Red Tide” DeSantis and other Republicans, Iowa’s Democratic leaders have little to say. They fear the wrath of famers. Allowing the degradation of our environment must be part of their rural outreach.
They should join the fight. What do they have left to lose? The auditor’s office?
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