Hoeven Presses Ag Secretary on Waters of the U.S. Rule

Senator is Working to Pass Legislation to Eliminate Rule, Bar EPA and Corps from Implementing Regulation

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven pressed U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack yesterday to work with him to eliminate the proposed “Waters of the United States” rule and to address widespread concern among farmers and ranchers about the regulation that would expand Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to regulate small wetlands, creeks, stock ponds and ditches under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The senator has led the effort on the Appropriations Committee to provide relief for farmers and job creators from this burdensome regulation.

“In speaking with Secretary Vilsack, I made it clear that this rule could have far-reaching and detrimental effects on farmers and ranchers, as well as other businesses,” said Hoeven. “Our farmers and ranchers are very concerned that the EPA is trying to step in and make land-use decision for them. We’re working to eliminate the proposed Waters of the U.S. regulation as it is clearly bureaucratic overreach.”

On March 25, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 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 CWA. 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 likely be hit with new federal permits, compliance costs and threats of significant fines.

Hoeven is cosponsoring the Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014, legislation that would prevent the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing its March 2014 proposed rule, which would significantly expand federal authority under the CWA. The senator has also led the effort in the Senate Appropriations Committee to include language in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill to block the EPA and Corps from implementing the onerous new rule in Fiscal Year 2015.

Hoeven has repeatedly expressed his concerns to administration officials about the impact of the Waters of the U.S. rule. Earlier this week, Hoeven joined a group of 10 senators in writing to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to express concerns about the effects the rule could have on fireworks displays across the nation. The text of the letter is available here.