Hoeven Joins EPA and Army Corps in Announcing Regulatory Relief Under Waters of the U.S. Rule

Senator Worked to Defund WOTUS Implementation in 2016 & 2017, Provide Certainty & Alleviate Burdens on Agriculture Producers, Impacted Industries

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today joined administration officials, including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James, as well as leaders from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Manufacturers in announcing new regulatory relief under the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The proposed changes recognize the primary role of states and tribes in managing water resources within their borders and will help ensure the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers do not exceed the authority granted by Congress under the Clean Water Act.

This is the second of two steps established by the executive order the President signed last year to rescind or revise the Obama-era regulation, which was finalized in 2015. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven authored and secured provisions to defund the rule in 2016 and 2017, in an effort to prevent its implementation.

“This revised WOTUS rule helps restore the regulatory primacy of states and tribes and provides certainty throughout our economy, including for our farmers and ranchers,” said Hoeven. “This is especially important in North Dakota and the rest of the prairie pothole region, where the previous administration’s rule would have imposed significant burdens on a majority of landowners, just due to the presence of temporary and seasonal standing water. That’s why we worked hard to provide this regulatory relief, and we appreciate Acting Administrator Wheeler, Assistant Secretary James, Secretary Zinke and all of our partners in working with us to advance this priority.”

Once finalized, the revised WOTUS rule would apply nationwide and replace the patchwork of regulations that came as a result of litigation against the 2015 rule. Specifically, the proposal announced today:

  • Covers only those waters that are physically and meaningfully connected to traditional navigable waters.
  • Does not apply to short-lived water features that result from rainfall or to wetlands physically separated from navigable waters by, for example, a berm, levee or upland.
  • Would not include most farm and roadside ditches.