Hoeven: WOTUS Replacement Should Respect Role of States, Not Exceed EPA Authority or Impose Unnecessary Costs

Senator Joins WOTUS Roundtable with EPA Administrator Wheeler

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today joined a roundtable with Senator Kevin Cramer and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to discuss the progress of efforts to replace the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Last month, Hoeven announced that the EPA had repealed the 2015 rule, removing the patchwork of regulations that have been in place due to litigation against the WOTUS rule, which was only in effect for 22 states and the District of Columbia. Hoeven previously worked as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to defund the rule in 2016 and 2017 and prevent its implementation.

The EPA’s action restored the pre-2015 regulations for all states while the agency works to finalize a replacement for WOTUS, which Hoeven helped announce last year. Moving forward, the senator is urging the EPA, and again stressed to Wheeler today, to ensure the replacement:

  • Recognizes the primary role of states in managing water within their borders.
  • Stays within the limits of the administration’s authority provided by Congress.
  • Does not impose unnecessary costs on farmers, ranchers and energy producers, among others.

“We’ve worked hard to prevent the impacts of the 2015 WOTUS rule, and I appreciate Administrator Wheeler for partnering with us in that effort,” said Hoeven. “While the rule has been repealed, and we’ve restored the pre-existing regulations, we need the EPA to provide certainty to our farmers, ranchers and energy producers as they draft a new WOTUS rule. That means it should be clear that the proposal won’t impose burdensome, expansive rules or permitting requirements on everyday operations. North Dakota has some of the cleanest water and air in the nation, showing that we can maintain good environmental stewardship while also supporting a strong economy. That’s why I will continue working with the administration to preserve the role of states in protecting our water resources.”

The EPA’s proposed replacement for WOTUS, which comes as the result of an executive order the President signed in 2017, would:

  • Cover only those waters that are physically and meaningfully connected to traditional navigable waters.
  • Not apply to short-lived water features that result from rainfall or to wetlands physically separated from navigable waters by, for example, a berm, levee or upland.
  • Not include most farm and roadside ditches.