Senator John Hoeven, R-N.D.,pressed his opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed “Waters of the United States” rule, which was published in the federal register last week.
Hoeven is working to get the EPA to withdraw the proposed rule that would expand the agency’s authority to regulate non-navigable bodies of water under the Clean Water Act. Hoeven said he is circulating a letter in the Senate and drafting legislation to overturn the proposed rule, which could have a far-reaching and detrimental effect on farmers, ranchers, the construction industry and others business activities.
Earlier this month, at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee, Hoeven told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that there is widespread concern among farmers and ranchers about the agency’s proposed new rule expanding its authority to regulate non-navigable bodies of water under the Clean Water Act.
Currently, the Clean Water Act authorizes the EPA to regulate “navigable waterways”; with the new proposed rule, however, the agency interprets its authority more broadly to include regulation of temporary streams and other bodies of water like wetlands. Hoeven said the rule raises property rights concerns for farmers and ranchers, who believe EPA regulation of transitory bodies of water on their land will threaten their ability to determine the best practices for their private operations.
“Our farmers and ranchers have been feeding the world and managing their land responsibly for generations,” Hoeven said. “Now, however, they’re very concerned that the EPA is trying to step in and make land-use decision for them. This is clearly bureaucratic overreach.”