Hoeven Pushes for Passage of Legislation to Repeal the Waters of the U.S. Rule

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today spoke on the Senate floor to push for passage of the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, legislation that would rescind the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule and require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to start the process over with more input from stakeholders. The senator and a bipartisan group of farm-state colleagues introduced the legislation, which is being led by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.). The motion to bring the bill to the floor for debate and a vote fell 3 votes short of the 60 needed to pass.

“America’s farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs go to work every day to build a stronger nation,” Hoeven said. “Thanks to these hardworking men and women, we live in a country where there is affordable food at the grocery store and where a dynamic private sector offers Americans the opportunity to achieve a brighter future. The federal government should be doing all that it can to empower those who grow our food and our economy. Yet instead, regulators are stifling growth with burdensome regulations that generate cost and uncertainty. The final rule on the Waters of the U.S. regulates virtually every body of water in the nation. We’re working to rescind the rule, either by de-authorizing it or defunding it.”

Following the vote, Hoeven said the next step will be to introduce a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Waters of the U.S. rule, a measure he is cosponsoring. The Congressional Review Act authorizes Congress by majority vote to repeal actions by a federal agency after a rule is formally published and submitted to Congress. If the resolution passes, it would stop the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule from being implemented; however, it is still subject to a presidential veto. 

In 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.

Hoeven has also been working to eliminate the Waters of the U.S. regulation through the appropriations process. The senator worked to include a provision in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill in June that prohibits the EPA from implementing the regulation.

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.