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Cramer: Natural Resources Favorably Reports Energy and Water Bills

Nov 14, 2013
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer announced the House Committee on Natural Resources favorably reported two bills he cosponsors to rein in waste at the Department of the Interior and protect state and local water rights from federal takings.

The Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act amends the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to stop ongoing waste of taxpayer resources by the Department of the Interior by ending its rewrite of the Stream Buffer Zone Rule.

Finalized in 2008 after five years of scientific study and more than 43,000 public comments, the Stream Buffer Zone Rule regulates the amount of distance required between coal mining activity and water sources. Two environmental groups filed lawsuits against the Department of the Interior before the rule could take effect. Shortly after taking office, President Obama settled the lawsuit through a regulatory technique his administration frequently employs, known as "sue and settle". As a result of the settlement, the administration has proceeded to spend more than $8.6 million writing a sweeping overhaul of the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, now known as the Stream Protection Rule.

The Water Rights Protection Act protects water rights privately held by communities, businesses, farmers and ranchers from being lost to the federal government. Federal agencies including the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are engaged in attempts to confiscate water rights through conditioning permits they issue, such as grazing permits, on surrendering their private water rights.

“It is unfortunate this administration is so out of control it requires regular legislation to prevent further economic damage from its actions. I hope the Senate is also paying attention to the ongoing outrageous actions of these departments and agencies,” said Congressman Cramer.

“Water rights are fundamental to agriculture in North Dakota, and we appreciate Congressman Cramer’s work to keep the federal government from depleting them,” said Jeff Missling, President, North Dakota Farm Bureau.

The Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act is supported by coal associations including the National Mining Association, and the Water Rights Protection Act is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council, the Western Governors’ Association and the Western States Water Council among other organizations.

Congressman Cramer is a member of the Natural Resources Committee, including the Energy and Mineral Resources and Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittees.