Hoeven Working to Prevent Implementation of EPA's Waters of the U.S. Rule

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today told members of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) and the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND) that they are good stewards of the land and water, and he is working on the Senate Appropriations Committee to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule.

“North Dakota’s ranchers and farmers have a long and successful history of good stewardship of the land and water, as they provide Americans with the highest quality of beef in the world,” Hoeven said. “The Waters of the U.S. rule is not only a violation of private property rights, but it subjects our farmers and ranchers to a burdensome and costly new regulation. To make matters worse, it will also impede our efforts to build the housing, hotels, retail stores, roads and bridges necessary to maintain our high quality of life and our dynamic economic growth.”

Hoeven said the best and most likely way to stop the rule is to prevent the EPA from using any funding to implement it. The senator is leading the effort in the Senate Appropriations Committee to include language in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill to block the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the proposed rule in Fiscal Year 2015.

A second approach would be to rescind the rule with legislation. Hoeven is cosponsoring and pushing to pass the Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014, legislation that would prevent the EPA and the Corps from finalizing its March 2014 proposed rule, which would expand federal authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Hoeven underscored concern about the rule by pointing out that the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy this week recommended the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers withdraw the proposed rule. The Office of Advocacy, an independent voice for small businesses, concluded the EPA and Corps had used data in framing the rule, which they said impose costs directly on small businesses and have a significant economic impact on them.

On March 25, 2014, the EPA and the Corps 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 Clean Water Act. 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 face new federal permits, compliance costs and threats of fines.

The senator also outlined three risk management provisions for ranchers that he worked to include in the 2014 farm bill, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm Raised Fish Program (ELAP). Hoeven said the programs, which were enacted in the farm bill retroactively for Fiscal Year 2012, are essential to ranchers in North Dakota and South Dakota recovering from losses as a result of a severe storm in October of 2013.