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Pushing Back on the EPA's Overreach

October 15, 2010

Over the last two years, the EPA has proposed burdensome new air and water regulations on everything from irrigation canals to methane from cows. We all know too well how these actions could negatively impact our nation's rural and agricultural economies.

America's farmers and ranchers are our nation's finest conservationists. Their livelihood has long depended on maintaining high quality soil, water, and even air. In spite of these efforts, the EPA has led a non-stop regulatory assault on America's farmers and ranchers.

As I meet with Nebraska agriculture producers, time and time again they express their concerns with onerous regulations being handed down by bureaucrats in Washington.

Recently, the Rural America Solutions Group - a caucus established by House Republicans - hosted a forum entitled "The EPA's Assault on Rural America: How New Regulations and Proposed Legislation are Stifling Job Creation and Economic Growth."

As a member of this group, I welcomed the opportunity to hear firsthand from those affected by EPA's job-killing agenda. Gerald Simonsen, a sorghum producer from Ruskin, Nebraska, offered testimony detailing agriculture producers concerns with EPA's regulations and the associated costs to rural America, jobs, and our nation's economy.

The forum covered the EPA's:

  • Unnecessary and costly regulation of crop protection tools;
  • Proposed zero tolerance standard for pesticide spray drift;
  • Attempts to stiffen the current regulatory standard on farm dust, which would make tilling a field, operating a feedlot, or driving a farm vehicle nearly impossible; and
  • Unprecedented proposed ban on the popular weed control product, Atrazine.

If any of these efforts are successful, the EPA could be responsible for the loss of thousands of agriculture-related jobs.

Moreover, the EPA recently considered classifying lead-based ammunition and fishing tackle as "toxic substances." That the EPA would even contemplate such an action shows how out of touch it and this Administration are with our way of life here in Nebraska. In fact, in 1976 Congress specifically exempted lead-based ammunition from being regulated as a toxic substance, and the EPA later confirmed it does not have the legal authority to regulate ammunition, though it left the door open to banning lead in fishing tackle.

Recreational angling contributes more than $125 billion annually to the American economy and creates and sustains more than one million jobs. Cabela's - a major employer in our state - has described the proposal as having "a significant negative impact on the entire fishing community," in a letter sent before the forum.

I question the agency's authority and remain concerned about the lack of scientific evidence to warrant such regulation, which is why I sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson opposing banning lead in fishing tackle.

During a time of economic downturn, further federal overreach is not the answer. Farmers and ranchers should not have to worry about unreasonable federal regulations threatening their livelihood. It is imperative we prevent the EPA from imposing standards which would cripple American agriculture and stifle economic growth in rural communities.