EPW Subcommittee Chairman Cramer Introduced ND Ag Commissioner and Addressed Cooperative Federalism

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator and Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Chairman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) convened a hearing today entitled “A Review of Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Regulations: Their Impact on States and the American People.” This was a joint hearing with the full EPW Committee, and the first subcommittee hearing held under Chairman Cramer.

“Instead of focusing on our shared goal of clean water, the 2015 WOTUS rule was written as a massive federal power grab, giving regulators authority Congress never intended them to have,” Senator Cramer said in his opening remarks. “Thankfully, the Trump administration took action and proposed a new rule. While not perfect, it provides much-needed certainty by limiting federal jurisdiction. However, there remains room for improvement; and I am hopeful the administration will listen to the comments here today.”

“In the past, the complex WOTUS regulations have forced landowners to hire expensive consultants to figure out whether a water body on their land is a WOTUS,” EPW Chairman Barasso said in his open remarks. “The Trump Administration’s proposed rule is an attempt to bring more regulatory certainty to American landowners. I look forward to hearing their reactions to the Trump Administration’s proposal. I want to know if the rule is workable for them. The Administration needs to get this definition right.”

Click Here to Watch the Full Opening Remarks

Senator Cramer also introduced North Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring as a witness.

“Commissioner Goehring is a farmer first and foremost, a producer of food for a hungry world,” Senator Cramer said in his introduction. “Doug is a personal friend, a faithful brother; and I am grateful for his testimony today and his service to our state.”

“As North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner, I am greatly concerned about the potential of the 2015 WOTUS rule that conceivably places every river, creek, stream and vast amounts of adjacent lands under EPA jurisdiction,” North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “An overly rigid one-size-fits-all federal intervention and regulatory oversight is not reasonable, not workable, and not appropriate.”

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During the hearing, Senator Cramer and Commissioner Goehring both stressed the need for a definitive ruling on WOTUS to provide landowners with certainty.

“Whether it be through a rule that is upheld or through new legislation, we need to get to some finality on this issue,” Senator Cramer said on the uncertainty farmers face regarding WOTUS.

“There are 26 states that have some sort of stay, but it is all founded on different issues brought forward within the courts,” Commissioner Goehring added. “We need a final rule so we can operate with some certainty.”

The Senator concluded the hearing by speaking on cooperative federalism and the relationship between the federal government and local governments as it relates to enforcement.

“That state primacy, that cooperative federalism model, works very well when you have the unique understanding of the local area under the umbrella of federal oversight and a relationship with the federal government that is mutually respectful,” Senator Cramer concluded. “The closer enforcement can be to the people you are enforcing the better.”  

Click Here to Watch the Full Questioning