Thune Statement on Injunction Blocking Obama EPA’s WOTUS Implementation

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressThune Statement on Injunction Blocking Obama EPA’s WOTUS Implementation

“The recent ruling by a federal district court in North Dakota shows that the Obama EPA is not only defying common sense, but is also defying the original intent of the Clean Water Act.” 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement in response to an injunction by a federal district court in North Dakota that temporarily blocks the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing its burdensome Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in South Dakota and 12 other states:

“The Obama EPA’s WOTUS rule is one of the largest federal land grabs in recent memory,” said Thune. “It will drive up compliance costs for farmers and ranchers and expose homeowners and property owners across the country to massive new fines. The recent ruling by a federal district court in North Dakota shows that the Obama EPA is not only defying common sense, but is also defying the original intent of the Clean Water Act. The EPA should immediately suspend the enforcement of this regulation across the country. The ruling is yet another reason we need to enact a permanent stop to EPA’s overreach.


Noem Praises Federal Court’s WOTUS Ruling

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Noem Praises Federal Court’s WOTUS Ruling

WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem today applauded a U.S. District Court’s action that temporarily blocks the Obama administration’s controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule.

“The Obama administration’s proposed WOTUS rule could amount to one of the largest federal land grabs in U.S. history.  It is a vast federal overreach and the District Court was right to put the brakes on it,” said Noem.  “The District Court’s hold is temporary at this time, so our efforts to reverse this rule must continue.   If the EPA’s proposal would ever be allowed to move forward, the expanded authority would empower federal agencies to fine homeowners, farmers, ranchers and others tens of thousands of dollars per violation – per day.  We can’t afford it.”

In May 2015, Rep. Noem helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass the bipartisan H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, which would send the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers back to the drawing board on the WOTUS rule.

Noem has also called on the EPA to define regulated navigable waters on a map after an alarming graphic was released that has raised questions about how extensive the EPA’s regulatory authority could become.  Read more and view the graphic here.

Additionally, in May 2014, Rep. Noem joined 231 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle on a letter urging the EPA and the Secretary of the Army to withdraw the proposed rule.


US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Getting Washington Working Again For the American People

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressGetting Washington Working Again For the American People

When Republicans campaigned for the Senate majority in 2014, we made a simple, yet important pledge to the American people: If you elect Republicans to the majority, we will get the Senate, which has been dysfunctional for years, working again. That was not a half-hearted campaign slogan; it was a commitment on which we intended to deliver.

For far too long, the legislative process was nearly nonexistent in the Democrat-run Senate. Democrats were more focused on saving their own jobs than enacting policies that would help create good-paying jobs for hard-working Americans. The Senate floor transformed into a campaign hall, and basic legislative functions often took a back seat to political show votes that were intended to create fodder for 30-second campaign ads rather than solve key problems facing people across the country. Last year, the American people opted for a new direction, and seven months into the new Republican majority, I am happy to report that we have made significant progress.

It is halftime in the first session of this Congress, and Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have put some important points on the board on behalf of the American people. Most importantly, we have returned the Senate to what our Founders intended it to be: a place for open and honest debate, where committees are able to work and senators on both sides of the aisle are able to participate. With a divided government, I believe that the legislative outcome is better when members of both parties are part of the process.

Since reopening the Senate, we have passed more than 80 bills to help improve our economy, reform our government, protect some of the most vulnerable among us, and strengthen our national security. We passed a joint balanced budget resolution, the first since 2001, and did not raise a single dime in taxes during the process. We also passed legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, strengthen our efforts to eradicate human trafficking in this country, provide a check on the Obama administration’s flawed Iran nuclear agreement, and long-overdue trade legislation to help expand access to American-made goods overseas. Additionally, we passed the first long-term bill to strengthen Medicare in over a decade – ensuring South Dakota seniors have access to the physicians they prefer – and an education reform bill that transfers power from Washington bureaucrats back to parents, teachers, and local school boards.

More than 200 bills have been reported out of our various committees, including 36 that were reported out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which I chair. In particular, the Commerce Committee and full Senate passed my bipartisan legislation to reform the Surface Transportation Board and help ensure the rail backlog, which hurt South Dakota’s economy in 2013 and 2014, does not happen again. Also, just a few weeks ago, the Senate passed a long-term highway bill that is critical to South Dakota’s economy. This legislation not only passed with 65 votes, but includes a host of legislative priorities that I worked to include, such as provisions that will strengthen rail and highway safety, while cutting regulatory red tape for agriculture producers who rely on a national transportation system to get their goods to market.

On Saturday, I delivered the weekly Republican address to the nation and shared this important progress with all Americans. While we have accomplished a lot so far, there is much more work to be done during the second half of this session of Congress, and I will continue to fight for South Dakota’s priorities and the priorities of the American people.


Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Angels in Adoption

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateAngels in Adoption
By Senator Mike Rounds
August 21, 2015

Providing children with a loving home is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give. Strong families are an important pillar of society that help bring stability to communities and teach core values to future generations. Every child deserves the love and support that a family provides. I applaud those who are committed to strong and healthy families, especially those involved in adoption and foster care. That is why it is an honor to nominate Bethany Christian Services of Eastern and Western South Dakota as 2015 Angels in Adoption.

For more than 25 years, Bethany Christian Services has been helping children find loving, permanent homes in which to thrive and grow in South Dakota. Bethany accomplishes this by offering support for both international and domestic adoptions, which includes foster care adoption. I have always been pro-life, so participating in the Angels in Adoption program is important to me. Life is a wonderful gift, and families who adopt or foster children in need are giving back the gift of love. I admire organizations like Bethany Christian Services, who facilitate adoptions, help women through pregnancies and find foster parents for abused and neglected youth. Through their dedication and commitment to foster care and adoption, Bethany Christian Services has touched the lives of thousands of children and helped them overcome tough challenges at a young age. Nominating them as Angels in Adoption is the least I can do to say thanks.

Angels in Adoption is a non-profit program sponsored by Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) that seeks to raise awareness about the unique needs of children without families and advocate on behalf of orphans and foster children. Each year, Members of Congress have the opportunity to nominate an “Angel” – an individual, family or organization that has made extraordinary contributions on behalf of children in need of families.

According to CCAI, more than 100,000 kids in the U.S. are eligible for adoption, but nearly 32 percent will wait more than three years before being placed in a permanent home. Worldwide, the numbers are even more staggering. The Angels in Adoption program sheds light on the need for loving families to open their homes to these children. It also seeks to raise awareness about the rewarding and positive difference adoption makes in the lives of children, parents and their communities.

The adoption process can often be cumbersome and difficult, but organizations like Bethany Christian Services work to streamline the process and make certain both the children and adoptive families have a positive experience.  I’m proud to partner with CCAI to nominate Bethany Christian Services of Eastern and Western South Dakota as 2015 Angels in Adoption. May the organization – and others like it who offer adoption and foster care services – continue to do great work to help children find forever homes. I am inspired by all families who chose to open their homes and hearts to kids in need, as well as the organizations that support them. The impact adoption can have on families, children and societies is truly life-changing.

 # # #

Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Boosting Opportunity

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Boosting Opportunity
By Rep. Kristi Noem
August 21, 2015

South Dakota is a small business state.  Drive through nearly every town and the main street will be lined with family-owned businesses – the café, the grocery store, the seed dealer, the hair salon, you name it.  It’s part of what makes South Dakota so great to live in.  We can do business with people we know, and that’s a rare thing in today’s world.

My own family has run small businesses throughout our lives.  We’ve built up a family farm, managed a restaurant, even opened a hunting lodge at one point. Those experiences have given me an understanding of the challenges small businesses face in getting the word out about what they have to offer.  And doing so efficiently when margins are tight is imperative.

That’s why I was proud to work with the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and Facebook for a “Boost Your Business” event earlier this month.  I wanted it to be another tool to help level the playing field so growing South Dakota businesses can better compete in their communities and across the globe.  All in all, more than 300 South Dakotans turned out for the event, learning from social media experts and their peers in South Dakota about how to use technology to grow their customer base.

I’m proud to be able to help facilitate opportunities like this.  To me, unlocking the potential of others is one of my primary responsibilities and something I work to do not only at events like this, but also through the policies I help advance as South Dakota’s lone representative in the U.S. House.

This year, I’ve helped push an opportunity-driven agenda that works to pave the way for South Dakota businesses to thrive.  For instance, I helped the House pass the America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act. Provisions in this bill make Section 179 expensing levels permanent, so small businesses and millions of Americans who depend on them can better plan for the future.  This has been a critical provision for many South Dakota farmers and small businesses.  If it’s made permanent, I’m hopeful we can give these job creators more incentive to invest and greater certainty.

Additionally, we took up and passed the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act.  According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, “government requirements and red tape” ranked as one of the biggest issues facing small business. This bill helps cut through that red tape by requiring federal agencies to consider the impact on small business when writing new regulations.  It also provides greater opportunity for these growing businesses to offer input on the rules and regulations that will hit them hardest.

In South Dakota, 82,705 small businesses employ nearly 200,000 workers.  In fact, more than 96 percent of employers in our state are small businesses.  We need to make sure we do all we can to unlock the potential of each of these businesses.  So whether it means plugging family businesses into social media networks or giving them a bigger voice in the federal rule-making process, I’m committed to doing all I can to support them.


US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Take Me Out to the Fair

thuneheadernewTake Me Out to the Fair
By Senator John Thune

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressIt is that special time of year again when families of all ages from every corner of the state can enjoy the sights and sounds of our state and county fairs. From Turner County to Brown County to the state fair in Huron and everywhere in between, there are multiple opportunities for families to make new memories, continue old traditions, and reconnect with friends and family.

While the food, rides, and concerts are certainly the highlight for many fairgoers, there is more to these local celebrations than cotton candy and tilt-a-whirls. Fairs also present a good opportunity to highlight all of our agriculture producers from around the state. Agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry, and there is a lot to celebrate. Our farmers and ranchers not only carry on the generations-long tradition of working hard and living off of the land, but they also contribute a great deal to our state and local economies and communities.

Preserving these traditions is important, which is why getting the next generation of farmers involved and interested at an early age is so crucial. I am always glad to see so many 4-H demonstrations, booths, and activities as I travel from fair to fair. They are not only a staple of the fair scene, but they give young South Dakotans the chance to show off their talents and inspire others to participate as well.

Thankfully, the avian influenza outbreak that swept through the Midwest earlier this year, which affected nearly 50 million birds nationwide, has begun to subside. The outbreak took a toll on egg production in the United States, and costs, both to consumers and farmers, skyrocketed. At this year’s state fair, farmers and ranchers can receive an important update on the outbreak and learn more about its impact on South Dakota. This is just one of many examples of the educational opportunities available this year at the state fair.

I know that I mentioned there is more to the fair than the food and entertainment, but I would be lying if I said that I do not look forward to stopping by the Pork Producers’ or Cattlemen’s booth for a sandwich or attending events like the rodeo championship or an evening concert. These are the things that memories are made of, and I look forward to this season each year to experience these events firsthand with my own family.

If we cross paths at your local fair, be sure to stop and say hello – I look forward to seeing you soon.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Obama’s Clean Power Plan is Fundamentally Flawed

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateObama’s Clean Power Plan is Fundamentally Flawed
By Senator Mike Rounds
Aug. 14, 2015

Earlier this summer, President Obama announced his so-called “Clean Power Plan” final rule, which requires states to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly a third within 15 years. This sweeping new mandate requires states to completely rework their electric grid and dramatically reduce the amount of electricity they get from coal-fired plants. The result of which will be higher electricity rates for every single household and business in the country. Additionally, energy production will be reduced, bringing further uncertainty to the electric grid. All of this comes with very little benefit to the environment.

In South Dakota, we have scorching hot summers and freezing cold winters. We rely on dependable energy to protect us from our extreme weather conditions. Yet the clean power rule could jeopardize our current system. All of this is being done with no input from Congress. It is another example in which American families are being forced to suffer the consequences of the President’s overreaching, over-burdensome environmental agenda without any input or recourse for policies with which they disagree.

Since the President announced the final rule, South Dakota joined 14 other states in a petition to the D.C. Court of Appeals to block the egregious plan. In the appeal, the states ask the court to issue a ruling in the matter before September 8, 2015, one year before they are required to submit plans to EPA for how they will reduce emissions as required by the Clean Power Plan. Additionally, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley has joined a lawsuit challenging the rule. It is one of a number of suits that challenge whether the EPA exceeded its powers when issuing the final rule to cut power-plant carbon emissions.

In the Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), of which I am a member, recently passed the bipartisan Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA), which is the principal legislative vehicle to roll back the Clean Power Plan rule. Our legislation is a common sense solution that gives states additional time and flexibility to comply with these new rules. It also protects hard-working American families from bearing the brunt of the Clean Power Plan through higher electricity rates.

ARENA requires the EPA to submit a report to Congress describing the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions the Clean Power Plan is actually expected to reduce, and to conduct modeling to show the impacts of the rule on the climate indicators used to develop the final rule. As an original cosponsor of ARENA, I’m committed to working with my colleagues to put a stop to this costly carbon emissions rule.

The Obama administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been solely focused on cementing the President’s legacy as a champion of the environment. I, too, believe that we have an obligation to protect our natural resources for future generations. But it must not be at the expense of our economy, jobs and the current electric grid. It is another example of an Administration stretching the limits of the law to issue costly new regulations at the expense of American growth and innovation. It underscores the need for a bipartisan approach to address executive overreach – such as my RESTORE resolution to reinforce Congressional oversight as part of the rulemaking process. I will continue to work to protect taxpayers from this and other costly rules.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Navigating the Federal Government

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Navigating the Federal Government
By Rep. Kristi Noem|
August 14, 2015

Every day, South Dakotans need to interact directly with dozens of federal agencies.  Maybe you receive health care through the Veterans Administration or Medicare.  Perhaps your family is looking to grow through an international adoption, which requires coordination with the U.S. State Department. Maybe you receive benefits from the Social Security Administration or operate your family business with a loan from the Small Business Administration or have a CRP contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At some point or another, most of us will have to deal with a government agency.  While we hope it goes smoothly and that they serve you with the respect you deserve, we know it unfortunately doesn’t always turn out that way.

The federal government can be a very difficult, complicated, and confusing organization to navigate.  But that’s where my office can help.  We call it “casework” and I believe it’s one of the most important functions of a congressional office.

Many times, we can help you with a single phone call.  Perhaps you’re simply not sure which agency or division you should contact.  We can help you figure that out quickly. We can also help you find exactly who to talk to within an agency to save you time and frustration.

Sometimes, the cases can be more complicated than that, however, and we are here to help you in those scenarios as well.  If you can’t get an answer from a federal agency or if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly, we can make a formal inquiry or request information on your behalf.  While we cannot guarantee a favorable outcome, we will do our best to help ensure you receive a fair and timely response.  This is our way of ensuring the federal government remembers who it is accountable to – and that’s you.

Last year alone, we helped more than 500 constituents navigate federal agencies through our casework.  Please know our door is always open to help.  If you need immediate assistance, please visit my website at or call my office at 605-878-2868.

I’m incredibly grateful to be able to serve you in this way, so please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you need help.


US Senator John Thune’s weekly column: The Obama EPA Strikes Again

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressThe Obama EPA Strikes Again
By Senator John Thune

If there is one thing for which the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can be counted on, it is the repeated issuance of rules and regulations that stifle growth and make life harder and more costly for American families and businesses. The agency, stocked with a seemingly endless amount of red tape, lived up to its reputation earlier this month when it approved the final rule of the so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which could be more accurately described as a backdoor national energy tax.

This national energy tax is unwelcome news for South Dakota consumers because it will hurt jobs, cause costs to skyrocket, and threaten our grid reliability. South Dakota is an energy-intense state – we have cold winters and hot summers. As a result, South Dakota families spend a high share of their income on energy costs. While consumers across the state are likely to feel the pain from this burdensome new regulation, it is low-income families and seniors living on fixed incomes who will be hit the hardest. Many families are already finding it difficult to make ends meet. Higher energy costs – and the resulting costs that will be added to existing products and services – will only make that struggle more problematic.

The EPA’s rule will require a 32 percent across-the-board reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. Such a dramatic rate reduction will target the heart of America’s affordable and reliable coal generation. South Dakota’s state reduction target is 47 percent, which is one of the highest in the country and far exceeds the national average.

For the Big Stone Plant, which is South Dakota’s only major coal-fired electric generating unit and nearing completion of a $384 million environmental upgrade, the dust has yet to settle on existing regulations that the EPA has piled on it, including Regional Haze and Utility MACT. Despite the Big Stone Plant soon becoming one of the cleanest plants in the country, the EPA’s latest set of rules will threaten the plant’s multi-million dollar investment. In order to recoup this investment, it may be forced to pass its costs onto ratepayers.

In January, I wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the agency to think twice about the impact their D.C.-based rule-making process would have on South Dakotans halfway across the country. I urged Administrator McCarthy to abandon these rules, or at the very least, reconsider South Dakota’s emission reduction target to more accurately reflect our existing energy portfolio and the investments utility companies and ratepayers have already made in efficiency upgrades. Not only did the EPA move forward with these rules anyway, but South Dakota’s emission reduction target actually increased in the final rule.

I have said it before: Rule-makers in Washington’s concrete jungle, whether intentionally or unintentionally, force one-size-fits-all rules that oftentimes have a devastating impact on agriculture producers, homeowners, and small businesses across the country. With its national energy tax, the Obama EPA has struck again. I will continue to do all I can to see that this ill-conceived rule is reversed.

US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: The EPA’s Unfair ‘Sue and Settle’ Tactics

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateThe EPA’s Unfair ‘Sue and Settle’ Tactics
By Senator Mike Rounds

Too often, rather than writing and implementing regulations in an open and transparent process, environmental regulations are enacted as a result of citizen suits prompted by environmental activists. This practice is commonly known as “sue-and-settle.” I recently chaired a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee hearing to examine the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) sue-and-settle tactics and the impact they have on our economy and local governments.

Both the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act contain clauses that allow citizens to file citizen suits against a regulatory agency to reassure the agency’s compliance with federal statutes. Often, these citizen suits are being used to perpetuate this sue-and-settle process, which overwhelms regulatory agencies and results in settlement agreements and consent decrees requiring agencies to promulgate major regulations within an arbitrarily imposed timeline.

It is worrisome that these agreements are often negotiated behind closed doors, with no transparency and little input from the public before a final rule is issued. The parties responsible for implementing the rules, such as states and local governments, are nearly completely cut out of the process. They are not even consulted about the practicalities of the settlement agreement. Even more alarming, an EPW Committee report recently released found evidence of the Obama Administration colluding with environmental groups to advance these cases. This unfair process allows the administration to advance its own policy agenda while circumventing Congress and the entire legislative process.

As a result, sue-and settle techniques are creating expensive, burdensome regulations that cost taxpayers billions of dollars, stifle economic growth and limit job creation. What’s worse is that these rules are being made behind closed doors by unelected bureaucrats. The American people have no voice in the process. A recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that the EPA reconsideration of the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards could cost up to $90 billion annually, making it the most expensive regulation in history.

Since October 2014, there have been 88 sue-and-settle cases, 79 of which were launched by environmental groups. This squeezes out the voice of average Americans who deserve a say in the regulations under which we all must live.  I believe our government works best when the public is involved in the decisions that affect their daily lives and agencies work transparently and in good faith. Sue-and-settle practices undermine this concept.

As chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight, I take seriously my job to hold the EPA and other agencies accountable to the American people. I will continue working to stop the unfair sue-and-settle tactics used by the administration to circumvent Congress and the American people in order to promote their agendas.