Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Block Waters of the U.S. Rule at Stockmen's Association Convention

Rule Violates Private Property Rights, Undermines Ranching and Farming Operations, Impedes Infrastructure Development

DICKINSON, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today told members of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) at the group’s 85th Annual Convention & Trade Show that he is working on the Appropriations Committee to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Waters of the U.S. rule by preventing the agency from using any funding to implement it. The senator is also cosponsoring legislation that would prevent the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the rule.

Speaking in western North Dakota, Hoeven said the Waters of the U.S. rule would have a damaging impact not only on the region’s ranchers and farmers, but also on construction companies and the N.D. Department of Transportation as they work to build infrastructure to accommodate the area’s rapid growth.

“We need to preserve North Dakota’s long and successful heritage of ranching and farming and at the same time build the kind of infrastructure necessary to meet the demands of both a growing population and economy in the region,” Hoeven said. “The Waters of the U.S. rule will not only violate private property rights, but also undermine the work we’re doing to support our agriculture industry and build the housing, hotels, retail stores, roads and bridges necessary to maintain our high quality of life and our robust economic growth.”

Hoeven said the best and most likely way to succeed is to prevent the EPA from using any funding to implement it. The senator is leading the effort in the Senate Appropriations Committee to include language in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill to block the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the new rule in Fiscal Year 2015.

A second approach would be to rescind the rule with legislation. Hoeven is cosponsoring and pushing to pass the Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014, legislation that would prevent the EPA and the Corps from finalizing its March 2014 proposed rule, which would expand federal authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

This year’s NDSA convention features EPA’s Allison Wiedeman as a speaker. NDSA members will have the chance to speak with Wiedeman in an open discussion about the Waters of the U.S. rule.

On March 25, 2014, the EPA and the Corps released a proposed rule that includes broad new definitions of the scope of “waters of the United States” that fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The proposed definition could apply to a countless number of small wetlands, creeks, stock ponds and ditches that are typically regulated at a state level. 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 senator also reviewed three safety net provisions for ranchers that he worked to include in 2014 farm bill, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm Raised Fish Program. Hoeven said the programs, which were enacted in the farm bill retroactively for Fiscal Year 2012, are essential to ranchers in North Dakota and South Dakota recovering from losses as a result of a severe storm in October of 2013.