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Weekly Column: Advancing Regulatory Reform Through EPW Subcommittee

For the past two years, I had the opportunity to chair a subcommittee in the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee focusing on regulatory oversight, providing much-needed reviews of the regulatory processes at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Army Corps, and other agencies. It was recently announced that I will have the opportunity to again be the chairman of the Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight during this next session of Congress. I’m looking forward to building upon the work we have done to advance meaningful regulatory reform that will benefit our economy while simultaneously preserving our natural resources.

Our subcommittee is tasked with overseeing the rulemaking processes at agencies like the EPA and Army Corps. We will continue to hold hearings, as we did during the past two years, to make sure these agencies are using sound science and taking into account economic, state, and local concerns when issuing any new regulations. Under the Obama administration, we too often saw regulatory agencies fail to adequately consult with local units of government and other stakeholders before issuing regulations that directly impact their livelihoods. We will also continue to oversee the Army Corps’ management of the Missouri River and work with them to avoid another devastating flood event like the flood of 2011. We held a field hearing on the 2011 flood during the last Congress where it was revealed that there is room for improvement within the Army Corps to make certain they manage the Missouri River in an appropriate and responsible manner.

At a subcommittee field hearing during the last Congress, we heard from South Dakotans about the negative impact of one of these rules, the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which would give the EPA unprecedented authority over significant water bodies that it currently does not have jurisdiction over. The rule would create new barriers for not just the ag community but landowners and local leaders who simply want to keep weeds from growing along our roads and ditches. Yet, our committee found that EPA continuously ignored the concerns of farmers, ranchers, agriculture groups, state governors, attorneys general and the Small Business Administration before moving ahead with the WOTUS rule. Despite these concerns and a nationwide court stay against the rule, the previous administration also illegally worked to implement it.

Fortunately, President Trump’s newly-confirmed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt intends to turn a new page at the EPA. Administrator Pruitt is committed to working diligently to restore order at the agency, promising to consult with state and local leaders when making decisions, using only the most current, sound science and – importantly – working with Congress before making any sweeping regulatory changes. This is a breath of fresh air for many farmers, ranchers, local leaders and landowners across the state.

The success of the U.S. economy and the creation of American jobs depends on Congress making a concerted effort to take back their authority and reign in the rulemaking process, and the EPW oversight subcommittee is ready to take on that task. We will continue to conduct a thorough review of the regulatory process at the EPA, Army Corps, and other agencies. And when we see areas that need fixing, we will work with them to find solutions that take both our economy and the environment into consideration.

We all want clean air and water, and I believe we can achieve that without imposing excessive regulations on the American people. I look forward to working with EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), other members of my subcommittee and the new administration to explore further ways to hold regulatory agencies accountable to the public.