Hoeven Statement on Administration Beginning Implementation of Final WOTUS Replacement

Senator Worked to Defund 2015 Rule, Urged EPA to Ensure Replacement Respects Role of States

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today issued the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began the process of implementing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), which serves to replace the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The administration announced the NWPR in January, after repealing the WOTUS rule last year and removing the patchwork of regulations that were in place due to litigation against the regulation. The NWPR is set to go into effect on June 22, 2020.

Hoeven previously worked to defund WOTUS in 2016 and 2017 and prevent its implementation. The senator has also been urging the administration, including at a roundtable in Bismarck with EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, to ensure that any replacement for WOTUS would recognize the primary role of states in managing water resources within their borders and not impose unnecessary costs on farmers, ranchers and energy producers, among others. 

“Industries across sectors, including agriculture, energy and construction, need regulatory certainty, which is exactly what we’ve worked with the administration to provide under the replacement for WOTUS,” said Hoeven. “By respecting the role of states in managing their water, we can support good environmental outcomes while also reducing the unnecessary cost and complications that come with duplicative regulations, like the 2015 rule. We look forward to the NWPR going into effect, and will continue our efforts with the EPA to ensure it is administered in a way that achieves these goals.”

The 2015 WOTUS rule included broad new definitions of the scope of “waters of the United States” that fell under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. This expansion of the EPA’s authority went beyond what Congress established under the CWA. It violated private property rights and threatened significant economic impacts for property owners who would’ve faced new federal permitting requirements, compliance costs and threats of fines.  

According to the EPA, the NWPR maintains federal authority to protect the quality of navigable waters and the core tributaries that flow into them. At the same time, the rule makes clear those waters which are not covered by federal authority and will continue to be protected under state, tribal and local regulations, including:

  • Features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall.
  • Groundwater.
  • Many ditches, including most roadside and farm ditches.
  • Farm and stock watering ponds.
  • Waste treatment systems.
  • Prior converted cropland.