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Jan 22, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the United States Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Judge Erickson’s August 27, 2015 decision, which held Federal District Courts, rather than Appellate Courts, are the proper initial venue for legal challenges against the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS).

“I congratulate Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and all of our North Dakota stakeholders for their part in today’s United States Supreme Court ruling. Judge Erickson’s decision validates the legal opinions and foresight of the Attorney General who set the stage for this entire litigation.  Thankfully, the stay of the WOTUS rule remains in effect for North Dakota.  I will continue to work with EPA Administrator Pruitt in his efforts to redraft the rule. I call on my colleagues in the House and Senate to approve a legislative solution to define the federal jurisdiction of waters. While litigation continues, I offer my support to the Attorney General to continue North Dakota’s lead in this entire effort.  Hopefully an outcome which will best meet the needs of our constituents is now within reach.” 

Congressman Cramer has advocated a legislative fix to ensure future Administrations cannot overreach again and judges across the country have more clarity.  Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Kevin Cramer sponsored H.R. 1261, the Federal Regulatory Certainty for Water Act, which clarifies in law what the definition of “navigable waters” means, and more importantly, what it does not mean.  The bill is based on the late-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s interpretation of navigable waters, and states that waters under federal jurisdiction must be navigable, permanent, and continuously flowing bodies of water that form streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes.  The bill also specifically excludes waters with flows that are intermittent, ephemeral, or wetlands that lack a continuous surface water connection with the previously described bodies of water.

When EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt visited North Dakota in August 2017 Congressman Cramer made his case saying, “We in Congress need to enact a permanent fix to WOTUS to make sure this harmful rule doesn’t become a political game of ping-pong, where the rule can simply be re-proposed every time we have a Democrat in the White House.”  Administrator Pruitt agreed saying on a radio interview with Scott Hennen, “It’s always welcome for Congress to be more prescriptive and more specific about what Waters of the United States equals…for Congress to say Waters of the United States [means] navigable waters.”