Bowman County Courthouse
104 1st St NW
Bowman, ND 58623
Hoeven talks federal priorities, local impacts with area leaders
March 29, 2016
State Sen. Bill Bowman, left, voices his concern with federal appropriations as County Commission President Rick Braaten, center, and Sen. John Hoeven, right, listen during a roundtable discussion on Monday in Bowman. (Pioneer Photo by Bryce Martin)
Sen. John Hoeven spent time in Bowman on Monday to discuss federal issues that could impact local communities and advocated for the censure of some current regulations that indicate government overreach.
With emphasis on Bowman County’s agricultural and energy sectors, Hoeven, R-N.D., headed a roundtable discussion with a diverse group of area leaders at Bowman Lodge and Convention Center, during which he overviewed key pieces of legislation and regulations of concern.
“Agriculture is No. 1 for our economy,” Hoeven said during the roundtable, which saw several farmers and ranchers in attendance.
To underscore the importance of agriculture in the country and particularly in North Dakota, Hoeven stressed the need for changes to the Waters of the U.S. Rule.
The rule ensures waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined, more predictably determined, and easier for businesses and industry to understand, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
In addition to farming, the rule could impose upon oil and natural gas exploration.
Hoeven called the rule an invasion of private property rights.
“The EPA could come in … and say they’re not managing their water right so they need to change their operation,” he said.
They don’t have that authority, he added. “We’ve got a federal government that’s just too overbearing.”
A provision to defund part of the rule was passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee but a resolution passed by the Senate to completely repeal the rule was subsequently vetoed by President Barack Obama.
The legality of the rule is currently being contested in court and would not be implemented nationwide until a final ruling is issued.
Hoeven said the regulation should ultimately be fully rescinded.
Similar overreaching political maneuvers affecting the energy industry are frequent, according to Hoeven.
Rules on hydraulic fracturing, methane, stream buffers, carbon dioxide emissions and ozone are further examples of legislators “piling on regulations,” which Hoeven said makes it more costly and harder for the country to compete on a global stage.
He said North Dakota already meets strict standards in its energy sectors.
Hoeven lauds airport, but fields concerns over training area
In discussion on more local issues, Hoeven, who frequents the area during hunting season, complimented Bowman County’s new airport project completed last year and explained measures regarding expansion of the Powder River Training Area.
The senator helped secure funding for the airport through his work on the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program that helps finance such projects.
Those grants provided $12 million to the new airport project, easing the burden of its $16 million total price tag.
“But now we’re working on this piece with the Powder River Military Operating Area,” Hoeven said.
Rodney Schaaf, president of the Bowman Country Airport Authority, welcomed the compliment and voiced his own appreciation for Hoeven’s work, but signaled concern regarding the Powder River Training Complex, a matter that affects Bowman County’s airspace.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven helped include $2 million in Congress’s year-end funding bill passed in December that would finance air-to-ground communications equipment for civilian pilots to coordinate with traffic control towers managing military flights in their airspace.
The military will hold off on lower-level operations until the funds are received and the communications equipment is installed and operative.
Though Schaaf told Hoeven that the airport’s concern was that the Air Force would likely only use the ultra-high frequency band for communication while civilian pilots use the very-high frequency band. That would result in a lack of communication between the two entities.
But the Air Force has plans to utilize both frequencies, according to Jon Cameron, Hoeven’s western North Dakota regional director.
“It’s really critical for them, and in a broader context for the Air Force,” Hoeven said of the military training area.
He said the training areas have to work to ensure general aviators are comfortable and can operate safely.
Hoeven held a similar roundtable with leaders in Amidon following the hour-long discussion in Bowman.