Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Stop the Stream of Regulations

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Stop the Stream of Regulations
By Rep. Kristi Noem

In 2015 alone, the U.S. government put more than 79,000 pages of new regulations in the federal register.  Add these to the list of existing regulations and the economic impact amounts to more than $1.8 trillion or about $15,000 per household annually.  The stream of costly federal regulations needs to stop.

One of the most controversial regulations finalized in 2015 was the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule, or WOTUS.  The Clean Water Act enables the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to regulate so-called “navigable waters.” In the EPA’s latest WOTUS rule, however, the federal agency broadened the definition of navigable waters to include ditches, prairie potholes, and even seasonally wet areas.  Changing a few words around may seem minor, but it can have a huge impact.

As written, WOTUS could become one of the largest federal land grabs in our lifetime.  Everyday tasks – like treating your lawn for mosquitos, putting up a fence in your backyard, or spraying your crops for disease – could become federally regulated activities that carry fines worth upwards of $30,000 per day if a farmer or homeowner is found in violation.

With a potential impact that significant, it’s no wonder why thousands of people have shared their outrage over WOTUS.  The EPA did its best to camouflage that anger, however.  In fact, a December 2015 Government Accountability Office report found the EPA engaged in “covert propaganda” to create the illusion of grassroots backing.  Not only did they violate the public trust, they broke the law.  They must be held accountable for their actions.

On January 13, Congress put our stamp of approval on a bill that would stop WOTUS from taking effect.  The final step is to get the President to sign on, which frankly, is unlikely.  While a presidential veto is all but certain, I wasn’t going to be discouraged from pursuing our agenda.  We need to keep pushing forward the initiatives that are important to South Dakota and the country.

Even if the President fails to understand the burden WOTUS puts on families, farmers, and small businesses, a federal appellate court has put a temporary, nationwide suspension on the rule’s implementation.  One way or another, I’m committed to stopping this EPA expansion.

I know that sometimes the burden of federal regulations can be difficult to see – especially if they don’t impact us or our work directly.  But the reality is that federal regulations, like WOTUS, stunt America’s growth and threaten the opportunities ahead.  Bureaucrats need to be reined in.

Already this year, the House has passed legislation to reduce the overall cost of current federal regulations by 15 percent.  Our legislation, H.R.1155, would do this by forcing federal agencies to search for unnecessarily burdensome regulations, report them to Congress, and then eliminate them for good.  We’ve also passed legislation requiring bureaucrats to better communicate the purpose and impact of proposed regulations.  You have a right to know what they’re doing in clear, succinct language.

These bills build on legislation we passed in 2015 which would force any major regulation to get approval from Congress before being implemented.  We need to give the people a bigger voice in this process.

2015 was a record-setting year for federal regulations.  By one group’s count, more than 3,300 rules and regulations were finalized.  It’s gotten out of control.  Too much power is being concentrated in the hands of federal bureaucrats and it’s costing hardworking families dearly.  We have to reverse course, and I’m hopeful that will begin with stopping the EPA’s new WOTUS rule.