Sen. Hoeven says EPA overstepping authority

Farm Forum

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Sen. John Hoeven says he has a plan to combat the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules over navigable waters, which he calls “a real problem.”

Hoeven, North Dakota’s Republican U.S. senator, criticized the EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. rule on Oct. 3 during a conference of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and Independent Beef Association of North Dakota in Bismarck.

The EPA has proposed a rule that it says will clarify which streams and waterways are shielded from development under the Clean Water Act, an issue that remains in dispute even after two U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Agriculture groups and farm-state politicians call the proposed rule a power grab that would allow the government to dictate what farmers can do on their own land. They said the rule is an example of governmental interference by bureaucrats who don’t know as much as farmers and ranchers do about how to be good stewards of their land.

EPA administrators have said the proposal does not include new restrictions and merely clarifies what bodies of water already are under federal jurisdiction in the Clean Water Act.

In September, the Republican-controlled House approved a bill to block the Obama administration from implementing the rule. The measure is not expected to advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House has said it would veto the bill.

Hoeven said on Oct. 3 the new rules meant to clarify federal authority over navigable bodies of water would adversely affect farmers, ranchers and small business owners, saying the agency is overstepping its authority.

Hoeven said he has his own plan that would stop the EPA from implementing the rules.

“My best shot is to defund it, which means as a member of the appropriations committee, I’d be able to pass legislation that would tell the EPA you cannot use any money to implement this proposed regulation, this Waters of the U.S. regulation,” he said. “I think that’s our best shot” to stop the proposed rules.