Hoeven Working to Ensure EAS for Dickinson, Support Farmers and Ranchers, Create Strong Business Climate, Advance Energy Industry

Senator Briefs Dickinson Area Chamber Leaders on Efforts in Washington

DICKINSON, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted a roundtable discussion with the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce to brief community leaders on his efforts in Washington and to gather input from chamber members on their priorities. He outlined his work to ensure continued air service to Dickinson; help North Dakota farmers and ranchers; create a strong business climate for small business; and advance the energy industry in North Dakota.


Hoeven has requested expedited approval from the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) and encouraged United Airlines to apply for Essential Air Service (EAS) to ensure that Dickinson continues to have service to Denver. On June 29, 2016 United Airlines filed notice of its intent to terminate commercial air service at Dickinson effective September 27, 2016. The DOT requested proposals from eligible airlines interested in providing EAS at Dickson and issued an order prohibiting United from terminating service until the conclusion of the Essential Air Service selection.

The senator subsequently wrote to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx asking him to expedite awarding an EAS contract to ensure that there is not a disruption in air service at Dickinson Airport. The senator followed up this week with a call to United Airlines officials encouraging them to apply for EAS service at Dickinson by the submission deadline, August 15.


Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act

Hoeven last month introduced the Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act with cosponsor Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The legislation will:

• Increase the maximum loan amount that an individual farmer or rancher is able to receive under the Farm Service Agency’s Direct and Guaranteed Loan Programs for Farm Operating Loans and Farm Ownership Loans.
• Help producers weather the downturn. For example, it increases the FSA loan guarantee amount, which will now cover up to $2.5 million, up from $1.39 million. The bill will also double the amount on Direct Operating and Direct Farm Ownership Loans from $300,000 to $600,000.


• Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS): The Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funding bill prevented the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from reinstating the Waters of the U.S. Interpretive Rule, which preserves the general ag exemption from the Clean Water Act for farmers and ranchers. As an Appropriations Committee member, Hoeven included language in the FY 2017 appropriations bill for the Dept. of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency preventing the EPA from implementing its WOTUS rule next year as well. Last week, the senator called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to comply with the nationwide stay on implementing the WOTUS rule by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
• Worked to Secure More Than $680 Billion in Tax Relief in the FY 2016 funding bill: Permanently extends Section 179 with the $500,000 limitation, a provision of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code that allows farmers, ranchers and other small businesses to expense the purchase of equipment they need to run their operations. In addition, the measure extends the bonus depreciation allowance for five years.


• Lifted the Ban on Oil Exports – Hoeven, who serves on the Energy Committee, cosponsored bipartisan legislation lifting the ban and worked to include it in the year-end funding bill.
• The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 includes the following Hoeven provisions. The measure has passed both chambers and is now in conference committee.

o Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Spacing Act – The legislation directs BLM to establish a pilot program wherein a federal permit is not required when 25 percent or less of the minerals are owned or held in trust by the federal government and there is no federal surface land.
o All-of-the-Above Federal Building Energy Act – Improves the energy efficiency of federal buildings by allowing the continued use of efficient fuels like natural gas, which would otherwise be phased out.
o Homeowners Furnace Flexibility Act – Allows newly installed gas furnaces to be vented through a chimney, rather than a wall, as required in a new proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE’s proposed rule would have increased the cost of purchasing a new furnace by $350 and the cost of installing a new furnace by $1,500 to $2,200. This legislation will save homeowners that additional expense.
o Non-Profit Energy Efficiency – Introduced by Hoeven and Senator Amy Klobuchar, this bill creates a new pilot program at the DOE to provide matching grants up to $200,000 to non-profit organizations to help make buildings they own and operate more energy efficient.


• This week, Hoeven unveiled legislation he authored to keep harmful and addictive synthetic drugs from being sold in the United States. The Illegal Synthetic Drug Safety Act of 2016, which Hoeven recently introduced with Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) closes a loophole in current law that enables companies to circumvent the law and sell synthetic variations of drugs, like the powerful drug fentanyl, by labeling the products as “not for human consumption.”
• Laboratories, many of which are found in China, are altering the molecular structure of fentanyl and other controlled drugs to make substances that are technically different, but with the same dangerous risks as the original drug. These chemically altered substances are known as analogues.
• For example, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is medically used as a pain killer. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) estimates that it is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. While fentanyl is a controlled substance, laboratories are altering its molecular structure to make variations of the drug that are technically different, but just as dangerous. Companies are then able to sell the variations, or analogues, under a “not for human consumption” label.
• The Illegal Synthetic Drug Safety Act of 2016 closes that loophole.
• The measure has been endorsed by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.