The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appears bent on destroying rural America. The EPA and Majority party's attempt to regulate everything from mud-puddles to dust is a massive power grab that threatens the livelihoods of our family farmers, small businesses, and rural communities.
No one cares more about the environment than the farmers and ranchers of America. After all, the land allows our farmers and ranchers to feed, educate, and clothe their families and neighbors. Everyone agrees that we need to promote conservation and be wise with the use of technology. All farmers ask is that the regulatory process be transparent, fair, and based on sound science. As a farmer and small businessman, I understand where folks are coming from when they raise their concerns about the EPA's heavy-handed approach to regulation.
Beyond the devastating cap-and-tax plan, the Obama Administration and Majority party in Congress have proposed numerous job-killing regulations targeting rural America including:
* The proposed implementation of a new EPA spray drift policy, which will be a major shift from the decades-old acknowledgement that small levels of pesticide spray drift are unavoidable. The unachievable standard will result in frivolous lawsuits and loss of jobs.
* Regulation of hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. Hydraulic fracturing is a safe, well-regulated technology that enables the production of unconventional natural gas resources -- such as shale gas. Imposing new, bureaucratic regulations and red-tape will reduce American energy production and destroy energy jobs throughout the country.
EPA's regulatory overreach is also clear in the case of Atrazine, an herbicide that has been used safely and effectively by farmers across Missouri. In use for more than 50 years, Atrazine was reapproved for use by the EPA in 2006 after a twelve year exhaustive and transparent review of more than 6,000 research studies. The review, undertaken by two separate administrations, concluded Atrazine is safe with regard to human health. Now pressure from environmental activists has led this administration to initiate a redundant, costly, and hurried re-review, threatening to arbitrarily withdraw an essential crop protection tool that, by their own estimate, saves corn farmers more than $28 per acre. Recent studies show that a ban on Atrazine could cost between 21,000 and 48,000 agriculture-related jobs.
In July, the EPA started laying the groundwork for more stringent and unheard of regulations of farm dust that has the potential to threaten farmers working in their fields and simply operating farm vehicles on dirt roads. The proposed regulatory change would make dust regulation twice as stringent as the current standard and would require many rural areas to be designated as non-attainment areas, despite the fact that scientific studies have shown the current standard is protective of human health. Such a standard would make compliance next to impossible for farmers.
I am also extremely concerned about legislation that would greatly expand the Clean Water Act by removing the word "navigable." This legislation has the potential to bring nearly every body of water from irrigation canals, to on-farm ponds, to mud puddles under the justification of the federal government. By removing this one word from the Clean Water Act, all bodies of water could subject to numerous federal regulations and permits.
In this tough economy, this administration should do everything possible to help our farmers. Basing its decisions and processes on science, rather than the agenda of radical environmentalists, would be a good start. Recently at a Rural America Solutions Group forum on EPA over-regulation, a colleague of mine said the EPA is now short for Eliminate Private Agriculture. The EPA and Majority party should take the time to speak to the folks in rural America and address the inconsistencies between their support for disastrous cap-and-tax legislation and increased regulations, and the stated goal of job creation and economic growth.