Hoeven: Interior Appropriations Bill Blocks Funding for EPA Implementation of Waters of the U.S. Rule

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, today announced that the full Appropriations Committee has approved the Fiscal Year 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill that includes a provision to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The funding legislation now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

The EPA released the proposed Waters of the U.S. regulation on April 21, 2014 and issued its final rule last month. It includes broad new definitions of the scope of “waters of the United States” that fall under the jurisdiction of the CWA. If implemented, this expansion of the EPA’s regulatory authority would have significant economic impacts for property owners who would face new federal permits, compliance costs and threats of fines.

“The EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule would have real impacts not only on farmers and ranchers, but also on small businesses across North Dakota and the nation,” said Hoeven. “We worked to include a measure in this bill to block EPA funding for the rule, which will prevent the EPA from implementing its overreaching Waters of the U.S. regulation.”

Hoeven has been working to eliminate the Waters of the U.S. regulation through the appropriations process and also in separate legislation, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act. The senator joined a bipartisan group of farm-state colleagues to reintroduce the legislation that would rescind the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule and require the EPA to start the process over with more input from stakeholders. The Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which is being led by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) this year, is similar to legislation Hoeven cosponsored in 2014.

Last year, Hoeven worked to defund the Interpretive Rule, which enabled farmers and ranchers to operate this year, as they have in the past, under the Clean Water Act’s exemption from having to get a permit before practicing normal agricultural activities like plowing, seeding and minor drainage.