Congressman Kevin Cramer, along with Gov. Doug Burgum and Sen. John Hoeven, 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.
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.
Administrator Pruitt agreed this morning during a radio interview with Scott Hennen. “It’s always welcome for Congress to be more prescriptive and more specific about what Waters of the United States equals,” said Pruitt. “…for Congress to say Waters of the United States [means] navigable waters.”
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.”