The overwhelming message from Senate Ag Committee members Thursday to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is the agency seems bent on over-regulating farmers and ranchers.
Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns told Jackson her agency gives “lip service” to ag but is actually hammering the little guy.
“The big guy that can get capital in loans, and access that, will somehow find a way to deal with what you’re requiring even though it’s enormously onerous. And, even when you exempt, or we exempt, the smaller operator they still feel the ripple effects of what you are doing,” Johanns said.
Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) is called on the EPA to work to provide farmers and ranchers with certainty and stability, not additional burdensome and costly environmental regulations.
“At a time when every American feels anxious about his or her own economic future, our farmers, ranchers and foresters are facing at least 10 new regulatory requirements that will drive up their costs and make it more difficult to compete in the global marketplace. These regulations rely on dubious rationales and, as a consequence, will be of questionable benefit to the goal of conservation and environmental protection,” Lincoln said.
Lincoln pointed toward EPA’s Clean Water Act permit requirements for pesticide applications as one example of an expensive and duplicative process that is creating unnecessary hurdles for farmers.
For her part, Administrator Jackson said that her agency does not “have it in” for the Ag industry.
Jackson pointed to her agency’s revised decision regarding biofuels in the RFS-2 as a showing of their willingness to listen and change course.
By CFB’s count, over the last year and a half the EPA has issued no fewer than 9 proposed or new regulatory requirements that will directly impact the ag industry.
• EPA’s “Endangerment Finding” allows EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act;
• The revised Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) compliance requirements will require individuals with more than 1,320 gallons of above-ground fuel or milk storage to establish a spill prevention plan;
• Proposed revisions to coarse particulate matter (dust) standards, which may trigger restrictions on everything from gravel roads to farm field activities;
• Proposed revisions to ozone standards;
• New hazardous emission regulations for stationary irrigation engines;
• An unprecedented re-evaluation of Atrazine, despite 4,000 studies establishing its safety;
• Action to expand federal authority over individual states’ management of surface water quality;
• New Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) water discharge reporting regulations; and
• Expansion of Clean Water Act permit requirements that leave open the option of regulating common pesticide applications.
Pointing to new action on the proposed E-15 ethanol waiver, Jackson said that test results on how a higher ethanol blend will impact engine performance in 2007 and newer vehicles are expected to be ready by next week. An EPA decision on bumping up the blend rate is expected two weeks after the results come out.