CAMPAIGN 2016

Cramer to Trump: 'Tackle the Clean Water Act'

Rep. Kevin Cramer will be advising GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on another hot-button issue -- the Obama administration's Waters of the U.S. rule.

The North Dakota Republican, an energy adviser to Trump, told E&E Daily yesterday that he "fully intends" to discuss the U.S. EPA-Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act jurisdictional rule in more detail with the presumptive White House nominee.

Cramer said he first discussed the rule -- which would redefine which streams, rivers and wetlands receive automatic protection under the Clean Water Act -- with Trump at a town hall meeting in Iowa.

If he were to advise Trump as president, Cramer said, he would suggest that he "tackle the Clean Water Act itself" rather than simply address the question of which waters fall under the scope of the law.

"[Let's] bring more clarity and specificity, more prescription to [the Clean Water Act], as well as the Clean Air Act and other broad authorities that have provided this opportunity for this type of mischief by administrations, be they Republican or be they Democrat," he said.

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EPA and the Army Corps began the rulemaking process in 2014 to standardize which waters were protected as "waters of the United States."

Two Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 muddled the definition. As a result, determinations of which waters fell under federal jurisdiction were made on a case-by-case basis, leaving certain water bodies vulnerable to unregulated pollution.

The rulemaking was fiercely criticized by developers and agricultural organizations, which viewed the regulation as an expansion of federal control over private landowners. Dozens of lawsuits were filed after the rule was finalized last year. The regulation is currently stayed in federal court pending the outcome of the litigation.

It's likely that the courts won't decide the rule's fate until after President Obama leaves office.

Cramer said he would expect the statutes to be rolled back in the first 100 days of a Trump administration, or over the two-year course of a Republican-held Congress.

The lawmaker also floated House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) as a possible agriculture adviser for Trump. Conaway recently endorsed Trump, and told E&E Daily last week that he has offered his help in crafting an agriculture agenda (E&E Daily, May 20).

Other possibilities include former House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and leaders in the private sector, Cramer said.

With Continental Resources Inc. CEO Harold Hamm -- a fellow Okie -- putting his support behind Trump, Lucas could be a "go-to guy, as well," Cramer said.

Beyond the Waters of the U.S. rule, Cramer suggested House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) as a possible expert on water infrastructure issues. Shuster was one of the first committee chairmen to endorse Trump after his narrow victory in Pennsylvania's April primary.

One piece of advice Cramer would give The Donald: Keep the regular sequence of Water Resources Development Acts, the biennial authorization bills for locks, dams, flood control projects, storm barriers and other major water infrastructure efforts.

Congress did not pass a WRDA bill between 2007 and 2014, as the 2010 earmark ban removed a key mechanism for getting the bills passed.

"Clearly, the long lapse of the last few years created a real challenge that could be much more routine if we don't do this regularly," he said.

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