DES MOINES, IOWA (February 17, 2023) — Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird helped lead a multistate lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its interpretation of “Waters of the United States.” The new rule modifies that definition to dramatically expand the power of the federal government.

Instead of just regulating major interstate waterways like the Great Lakes or the Mississippi River, the federal government is trying to regulate as much of 97% of Iowa land, including even small lakes or ponds. By broadening the definition of “Waters of the United States,” the EPA would put significantly more Iowa farmland, housing land, and retail development under federal control.

“We’re taking the Biden Administration to court to protect the rights of farmers and other Iowans.” said AG Bird. “A farmer shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to farm their land. I trust Iowans, and I'll continue to fight back against the Biden Administration’s unlawful power-grab.”

The final rule uses vague and unmanageable standards that will be difficult to comply with for both individuals and the state. Many Iowa regulations, and even some conservation efforts, will be impossible under the new rule. If left in place, farmers and other landowners will struggle with lengthy and expensive processes for their lands or face legal penalties — and that is if they are even aware they need to comply with the rule. The new standards create vast amounts of uncertainty by subjecting unexpected lands to regulation and significant permitting costs.

West Virginia, North Dakota, Georgia and Iowa are leading the lawsuit brought by a total of 24 states, also including Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the full lawsuit here.

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