North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Sen. John Hoeven, and Congressman Kevin Cramer attended a Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) roundtable discussion this morning with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt in Fargo.
The visit by Administrator Pruitt comes in the wake of the recent EPA proposal to formally rescind the WOTUS rule created during the Obama Administration. The EPA plans to release a narrowly tailored rule in December.
Following the roundtable, Administrator Pruitt left for his next appearance in Grand Forks, but Burgum, Hoeven and Cramer fielded questions from the gathered media.
The following are officials comments from their offices on the event, along with audio from the press gathering.
“We’re very grateful to host Administrator Pruitt in North Dakota and discuss how federal regulations impact energy, agriculture, and natural resources in our state, and to thank him for his efforts to roll back burdensome and overreaching regulations such as the Waters of the U.S.,” Burgum said. “We share the fundamental goals of protecting the environment, improving public health and bolstering our economy. We appreciate Administrator Pruitt’s commitment to empowering states to solve our collective challenges through more innovation instead of more regulation.” Burgum
While the EPA’s plans to fix the WOTUS rule will help farmers and landowners in the near-term, Congressman Cramer strongly supports a legislative fix to ensure future Administrations cannot overreach again. “We in Congress need to enact a permanent fix to WOTUS to make sure this harmful rule doesn’t become a political game of ping-pong, where the rule can simply be re-proposed every time we have a Democrat in the White House,” said Cramer. Cramer
Reps. Mac Thornberry and Kevin Cramer sponsored H.R. 1261, the Federal Regulatory Certainty for Water Act, which clarifies in law what the definition of “navigable waters” means, and more importantly, what it does not mean. The bill is based on the late-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s interpretation of navigable waters, and states that waters under federal jurisdiction must be navigable, permanent, and continuously flowing bodies of water that form streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes. The bill also specifically excludes waters with flows that are intermittent, ephemeral, or wetlands that lack a continuous surface water connection with the previously described bodies of water.
“It’s both reckless and unconstitutional to have the federal government taking control of farmland across North Dakota each time we get a big rain,” said Cramer. “I applaud Administrator Pruitt’s concern for our farmers and support his stance that getting a permanent fix in Congress is the best way to ensure farmers don’t have to worry about this anymore.”
“The Waters of the U.S. rule is a prime example of a federal one-size-fits-all rule with far-reaching consequences,” Hoeven said. “Those who live and work on the land have the greatest stake in protecting it. Further, through our research and land-grant institutions, we have the expertise needed to develop solutions to ensure healthy soil, water and air.” Hoeven
The senator urged Pruitt to continue working to advance a state-led approach to improving environmental stewardship, allowing states to account for regional differences and reducing costs, which benefits businesses and consumers. This is especially important for small businesses, energy producers, farmers and ranchers.
In all, Administrator Pruitt is expected to visit 26 states before undertaking the eventual overhaul of the WOTUS rule.
Cramer’s Office, Hoeven’s Office, Burgum’s Office