Washington, D.C. - At a hearing today of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) led Members in roundly criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its disregard of congressional intent and use of unscientific methods in promulgating new regulations that will potentially cost farmers, ranchers, and timber workers millions of dollars.
"The EPA has blatantly disregarded the intent of the laws passed by Congress to protect the environment," Goodlatte said. "The harm that the EPA is doing to major environmental protection laws through these regulations is totally unacceptable and possibly even illegal."
The EPA recently began rulemaking procedures aimed at regulating Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and nonpoint source water pollution in a program known as Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). While the EPA claims regulatory authority for these procedures under the Clean Water Act (CWA), it is well established that both the congressional intent and statutory language underlying the CWA gives states the sole authority to implement voluntary programs.
"In the absence of real, accurate data, EPA has created its own conclusions based on faulty assumptions," Goodlatte said. "These assumptions lead the EPA to believe that nonpoint sources generally and agriculture specifically, are the major sources of water quality impairment. Farmers, in the eyes of EPA, always seem to be guilty until proven innocent."
"Instead of trusting the states to develop and enforce their own programs, the EPA wants to ignore states' rights and wants to take over the state programs if it doesn't like those programs," Goodlatte said. "This 'Washington knows best' arrogance violates the basic principles of federalism."
Goodlatte represents Virginia's Sixth Congressional District, which includes Roanoke, Lynchburg, and the Shenandoah Valley.