On a campaign stop Tuesday in the Quad-Cities, Iowa Republican Senate hopeful Joni Ernst criticized the federal Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to clarify how waterways will be defined under the Clean Water Act.

Ernst, who is seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, met with a group of people, many of them farmers, at a rural Long Grove farm for a wide-ranging discussion that included regulations, farm subsidies and how to pay for the country's transportation needs.

Many of the comments from the group had to do with what they said are overly burdensome federal rules. And Ernst was critical of an EPA proposal to define waterways.

The proposal comes in the wake of two Supreme Court decisions that questioned the government's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

"The EPA is suggesting that the government should be in charge of any waterways out there, even if it’s a ditch that run through a farmer’s property, if a farmer wants to build a terrace or plant a tree. … It’s really gotten very out of control," Ernst said.

Ernst added that, like those with farm backgrounds, she believes in clean water, but the EPA has grown too big. In the GOP Senate primary, she proposed eliminating the agency, a statement that liberal groups have criticized her for.

Last month, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy sought to dispel what she called myths about the waterway rule, saying that "all normal farming practices are still exempt." 

The EPA says it is not expanding its jurisdiction over ditches or trying to regulate land use.

Those assurances have not assuaged some congressional and rural critics, and in her remarks Ernst said common sense needs to be applied to regulations and that it is time to "start rolling back the things that don’t make sense."

Ernst is facing Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, in the Senate race, and polls say the two are running neck and neck.

Ernst, a state senator from Red Oak, mostly listened Tuesday to comments from the people who were invited to attend after they sat down to lunch.

Many of the questions centered strictly on farm issues, but there also were questions about how to fund infrastructure, an issue that was at play in the Republican primary.

When one questioner said it was time to raise the gasoline tax, Ernst told him that because cars are getting more fuel-efficient and a gasoline tax would not have the same revenue-generating capacity it once did, that is not a long-term fix.

Still, she suggested it might be part of the answer to funding the nation's roads and bridges.

"So it is not a long-term fix, and that’s why the federal government is struggling with this issue right now, too, because they have recognized that the gas tax is not a long-term solution for funding the infrastructure. It could be part of the solution, but it’s not the long-term solution," Ernst said.

During the GOP primary, Iowa businessman Mark Jacobs criticized Ernst for having voted previously for a gasoline tax increase while in the state Senate. During a May debate in the Quad-Cities, Ernst responded by saying that vote was a mistake.

"A spokesperson for Ernst said after the event Tuesday that the senator opposes a gas tax increase."

Ernst also said she will continue to support the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires a certain amount of renewable fuels be blended into the nation's gasoline supply.

Braley and his allies have questioned her support for the Renewable Fuel Standard because of the support her campaign has received from people who have been critical of the government support. Ernst said she backs an "all-of-the-above" energy policy.

(12) comments

longjohn412
longjohn412

Lies, lies and more lies for Ernst ..... She's lying about the EPA Rules that is simply better wording one of Congress' poorly worded laws .....

Morons acts as if we don't have a severe fertilizer/animal waste runoff problem in Iowa when its worse than ever ..... 'Volunteering' to fix the problem is stupid and senseless because no one volunteers to raise their costs if the other guy doesn't do it too .... so in the end no one does anything and the problem only gets worse

mel
mel

You are absolutely correct longjohn412. The tip of Iowa down around Burlington, Ft. Madison, Keokuk, where all the farm chemical runoff water table ends up, has more than their share of cancer and tumors.

VEGAS
VEGAS

Joni the special interest owned nit wit from western Iowa could care less about water or anything to do with the environment . She could be worse than the idiot King. Make no mistake about it she is not on the side of the middle class and the working poor and will sell her soul to the highest bidder as she lies and lies and lies.
While she was serving in the war she claims she has personal knowledge that Sadam had weapons of mass destruction. If The Joint Chiefs of Staff, The CIA, The NSA, top military commanders, and some of the Bush Administration denied there were weapons of mass destruction I challenge anyone to show me how this low ranking, grunt who was sitting in a tent calling home and texting her family and friends could have ever had the security clearance to have this kind of information? She simply could not have had, she is a liar.

geoff
geoff

Join Joni & feel good about yourselves for a change......

Stonecold
Stonecold

join joni and help her and her masters (koch brothers norquist and rove) continue with the destruction of America along with its middle class

mel
mel

Sorry, can't feel good about promoting the Koch Brother's anti-environment, anti-minimum wage, anti-livable wage, anti-union, anti-social security, anti everything that benefits the common man. They've been around a long time and so have I and so far nothing has trickled my way and I know it never will, so I'm tired of giving them welfare. I'm just a common person who has to pay taxes because they don't. None of that would make me feel good about myself.

mel
mel

The EPA claims it is not regulating ditches, and it's probably just another Tea Party/Libertarian/John Birch Society strategy that they are, but maybe they should be regulating them. Run off from chemicals used to keep dust contained on rural roads runs off into ditches which then run through farmland. My organic farmer stepdad took us out into his fields to show us narrow waterways running green with foam from neighboring farmers' chemicals. These farmers want the government to stay out of their business but they're not keeping their chemicals out of neighboring farms that don't sell their souls to Monsanto, and definitely not out of the food we eat. Of course Joni and the Koch's don't want regulations. And they won't quit until we're living in a Mad Max World.

coffee cup
coffee cup

Joni and the Koch bros say we don't need no stinking EPA!
Or maybe we do:

www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-fracking-groundwater-pavillion-20140811-story.html#page=1

Toy578
Toy578

This is just the beginning of hearing Joni's comments like "that vote was a mistake." Wheezy is right. She is an intellectual lightweight who is too extreme for Iowa. Besides, who needs clean water anyway?

zetar
zetar

Anybody remember how Lake Erie was recently so polluted with phosphates that the water was undrinkable? That darn EPA! trying to take away our freedoms to pollute!

Who doesn't want clean water? Oh.... the Koch Brothers don't want clean water.

coffee cup
coffee cup

Good old Joni, doing the bidding of the Koch brothers again. EPA? Who needs the EPA when there's fracking to be done!

Wheezy
Wheezy

Kind of an intellectual lightweight, it seems.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.