Hoeven Supports Measure to Block EPA "Waters of the U.S." Rules

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Hoeven joined a number of his GOP colleagues in cosponsoring Senator John Barrasso’s (R-Wyoming) legislation to block a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expanding its authority to regulate small wetlands, creeks, stock ponds and ditches under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014 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.

On March 25, 2014, 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 also pushing a parallel effort as a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to introduce language blocking the EPA and Corps from implementing the onerous new rule in the Water and Energy Appropriations bill.

“There is broad agreement across a range of industries that these rules will impose unnecessary and burdensome new restrictions and requirements” Hoeven said. “The rules will add additional costs for farmers, ranchers, homeowners and businesses across North Dakota. The EPA needs to abandon this new layer of bureaucracy and provide clarity and certainty to those who rely on the land for their livelihoods and manage it with good stewardship.”

At a hearing of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee in April, Hoeven told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that there is widespread concern among farmers and ranchers about the agency’s proposed rule. He subsequently announced that he was drafting legislation to block the rule. Last month, Hoeven and colleagues on the Senate Western Caucus wrote McCarthy and urged her to abandon plans to implement the rules.

The Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014 is endorsed by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), John Cornyn (R-Texas), David Vitter (R-Louisiana), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), John Thune (R-South Dakota), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Richard Burr (R-North Carolina).