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Senators introduce bill to block EPA water rule

Sen. John Hoeven has cosponsored a bill to block a proposed rule that he says would expand federal regulation of the Clean Water Act.

The North Dakota Republican joined Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to fight against the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to regulate any water source that flows into a navigable body of water, such as lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams. The rule has been called the waters of the U.S. proposal.

The rule would clarify Supreme Court rulings based on the Clean Water Act of 1972, according to the EPA. Officials said they want to give people more predictability on how decisions are made, but Hoeven said he believes the rule would be a clear overreach and would hurt producers across the country.

“There is a broad agreement across a range of industries that these rules will impose unnecessary and burdensome new restrictions and requirements,” Hoeven wrote in a release. “The rule will add additional costs for farmers, ranchers, homeowners and businesses across North Dakota. The EPA needs to abandon this new layer of bureaucracy and provide a clarity and certainty to those who rely on the land for their livelihoods and manage it with good stewardship.”

The penned legislation, dubbed the Protecting Water and Property Rights Act, has been endorsed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and has been cosponsored by 28 Republican senators.

The rule was proposed by the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on March 25. The comment period for the rule change was supposed to end today but the EPA has extended it to Oct. 20, said Don Canton, a spokesman for Hoeven’s office. Almost 200,000 comments have been received on the proposal.

Hoeven is also pushing a parallel effort to introduce language blocking the EPA and Corps from implementing the rule through the Water and Energy Appropriations bill. He has voiced his concerns to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

A copy of the proposal can be viewed at tinyurl.com/qgc5grc. Those interested can also comment at the same link.

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.   
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