Friday, September 24, 2010

Senators tell EPA boss she's too hard on farmers

Lawmakers lashed out against Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and the way her agency is regulating agriculture during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing Thursday. Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln, chairwoman of the committee, criticized EPA for allowing "people that normally sit behind a computer" to set and enforce regulations on farmers, Gabriel Nelson of Environment & Energy Daily reports. Republican South Dakota Sen. John Thune told Jackson, "Out here, what seems to make sense, it just really doesn't in the rural areas of our country."

Lincoln, who is polling well behind her Republican challenger in her re-election bid, also took EPA to task for "new guidance on pesticide spraying, proposed restrictions on toxic emissions from biomass boilers and the possibility that the agency will move to tighten the national air quality standard for coarse particulate matter, or dust," Nelson writes. Nebraska Republican Sen. Mike Johanns said EPA rules are having a negative impact on small farmers, who are struggling to adapt to rules meant for large-scale agriculture.

"There's a feeling out in the country that you walked in, the president walked in, and every idea for more regulation was dusted off and cut loose and agriculture is under attack," Johanns told Jackson. "That's how people feel." Jackson countered that EPA actually imposed fewer rules on farms last year than the Bush administration did in its final year. "I believe that we cannot be a strong country without a strong agricultural sector, that we cannot be prosperous if we cannot feed ourselves. And from an environmental perspective, importing food with the huge carbon footprint that it means is much less preferable," Jackson said. "Any belief that there's an agenda that somehow targets that sector would be the furthest thing from who I am." (Read more)

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