Recall that in December of 2016, agricultural policy observers expressed some measure of unease with President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. As The Wall Street Journal stated at the time, "After campaigning as a strong supporter of the use of ethanol and other biofuels in the nation’s gasoline supply, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen a forceful adversary of those federal requirements to implement them." Nearly one year later, today's update looks briefly at recent EPA action on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and Administrator Pruitt's visit to Iowa on Friday.
Coral Davenport reported yesterday at The New York Times Online that, "The Trump administration on Tuesday took a major legal step toward repealing a bitterly contested Obama-era regulation designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water. The rule, known as Waters of the United States, or Wotus, had extended existing federal protections of large bodies of water, such as the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, to smaller bodies that flow into them, such as rivers, small waterways and wetlands. Issued under the authority of the 1972 Clean Water Act, the rule has been hailed by environmentalists. But farmers, ranchers and real estate developers oppose it as an infringement on their property rights."
Recall that back in January, a FarmPolicyNews update discussed an important legal case in Iowa that challenged the general exemption for agricultural storm water discharges under the Clean Water Act, among other issues. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on a portion of the case in January, and earlier this month, a federal judge dismissed the case. Today's update provides a brief overview of some portions of the Iowa case and notes that water related issues still lurk in the future for agricultural producers.
Evan Halper reported in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times that, "President Trump stepped up his attack on federal environmental protections Tuesday, issuing an order directing his administration to begin the long process of rolling back sweeping clean water rules that were enacted by his predecessor."
Nutrient-impacted water runoff from farm fields can have environmental consequences. A case filed by Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) involving financial damages from treatment of this water recently made its way to the Iowa Supreme Court. On Friday, January 27, the Iowa Supreme Court resolved one issue associated with the DMWW case; however, non-point source permitting issues under the Clean Water Act will still be considered by a trial court in June.
On December 8th, Washington Post writers Chris Mooney, Brady Dennis and Steven Mufson reported that, "President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday nominated Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of the oil and gas-intensive state of Oklahoma, to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a move signaling an assault on President Obama’s climate change and environmental legacy."