Rep. Kristi Noem co-sponsored bipartisan legislation this week 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 asserting Clean Water Act jurisdiction over nearly all areas that connect to navigable waters, which could include ditches, culverts, and farmland ponds. 

“The federal government has no authority to begin regulating many ditches, culverts and even some flooded driveways in America,” said Rep. Noem.  “The expanded definition of navigable waters would impose new permitting requirements on many farmers, ranchers and South Dakota families as well as inflict stiff fines if they’re found in violation – even if that violation was made unknowingly.  I’m committed to doing all I can at the federal level to get this rule withdrawn, but I strongly encourage every concerned South Dakotan to participate in the public comment period, which is open until late-October.”

H.R.5078 will 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 redefine “waters of the United States.”  It also requires 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.

In May 2014, Rep. Noem joined 231 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle in 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 (watch the exchange here).

The public is invited to comment on the proposed rule until October 20.  For more information or to submit a comment, please visit the following link: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm

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