House passes Noem-backed bill to stop expansion of navigable waters rule

Farm Forum

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Sept. 10, Rep. Kristi Noem helped lead the U.S. House of Representatives in passing bipartisan legislation that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) from implementing the controversial “navigable waters” rule. More specifically, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act (H.R. 5078) prohibits the agencies from moving forward on attempts to assert Clean Water Act jurisdiction over nearly all areas that connect to navigable waters, which could include ditches, culverts, and farmland ponds.

“The proposed ‘navigable waters’ rule could become one of the largest federal land grabs in history,” said Rep. Noem. “If this unnecessary and unproven proposal moves forward, new permitting requirements on private land could become extremely burdensome and costly for farmers, ranchers, small business owners, and landowners. It must be withdrawn. I urge the Senate to act quickly to protect our private property rights and put an end to the EPA’s attempted land grab.”

“Under the proposed rule, many common and important practices like weed control and fertilizer spreading could be prohibited without a permit,” said Scott VanderWal, President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau. “It could have a devastating impact on many family-run operations. Rep. Noem has been a champion in urging the EPA and Army Corps to ditch the rule. Now, we’re looking to the Senate to do their part.”

If enacted, H.R.5078 would uphold the existing federal-state partnership by prohibiting the EPA and the Army Corps from developing, finalizing, adopting, implementing, applying, administering or enforcing the proposed rule to or any similar rule that would expand the agencies’ jurisdiction over these waters. It would also require the EPA and Army Corps to consult with state and local governments to come up with recommendations on how to identify which waters are to be covered under the CWA and which should be regulated by states and localities. The legislation, of which Rep. Noem is a cosponsor, is now headed to the Senate.

Recently Rep. Noem called on the EPA to define regulated navigable waters on a map after an alarming graphic was released that has raised questions about how extensive the EPA’s regulatory authority could become.

In May, Rep. Noem joined 231 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle on a letter urging the EPA and the Secretary of the Army to withdraw the proposed rule. She also questioned the USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at an Agriculture Committee hearing in June. Here, the Congresswoman raised concerns about the lack of clarity the interpretive rule would provide to producers and questioned why the administration is pursuing the rule when so many are opposed to it.

Additionally, Noem helped the House pass an Energy and Water appropriations bill, which prohibits the Army Corps from using FY2015 funding to move the proposal forward.