ND Ag Commissioner reacts to EPA announcement to expand clean water regulations

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On Wednesday, the EPA and Department of the Army announced they are expanding clean water protections to smaller U.S. waterways — reversing a Trump policy.

The Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule dates back to 2015. The Obama administration gave federal authority to protect major waterways, tributaries, adjacent wetlands and a few other smaller categories.

In 2017, former President Donald Trump directed his EPA to drop WOTUS and rewrite it so that only wetlands adjacent to or connected to a major navigable body of water would be protected under Federal authority.

The Majority of North Dakota’s ag producers, contractors, energy producers and landowners hailed the Trump revision as a win. North Dakota Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring says that if this new rule is closer to the Obama rule – he expects the state of North Dakota will challenge it.

“Whether you’re talking about a dry ditch, or a ravine, or an ephemeral stream, all of a sudden they had a 4,000-foot buffer adjacent to that. So, on both sides. And, when you looked at the landscape of North Dakota, you virtually captured 86% – 84% of the state, would have been under Federal control,” explained Goehring.

Last week, U.S. Senator Cramer hosted new EPA Administrator Michael Regan in Bismarck for a stakeholder listening session.

Although it is expected that Regan will not see eye-to-eye with North Dakota lawmakers on policy, he has staked his reputation as a consensus-builder and has pledged to follow a cooperative federalism approach.

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