Hoeven: Interior EPA Appropriations Bill Includes Hoeven Language to Stop WOTUS Implementation

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations bill for the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) includes language preventing the EPA from implementing its Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

“The federal government should be doing all that it can to help those who grow our food and fuel our economy, especially in a time of low commodity prices,” Hoeven said. “Instead, the Waters of the U.S. rule threatens to undermine the work of farmers, ranchers and small businesses, in North Dakota and across the nation.”

Specifically, the language, which is based on earlier Hoeven efforts to defund the WOTUS rule, would prohibit funding from being used in FY17 to implement the Waters of the U.S. rule.

The senator also worked in 2015 to defund the EPA’s Interpretive Rule for the Waters of the U.S., a separate rule that the agency drafted to implement WOTUS. By defunding the Interpretive Rule, farmers and ranchers were able to operate in 2016, 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.

Last August, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson issued an injunction blocking the EPA from implementing the WOTUS rule in North Dakota and 12 additional states that had challenged the rule. A subsequent ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court in October blocked the rule from being implemented nationwide while the courts determine its legality. The issue is still in litigation.