Members Urge Withdrawal of EPA TMDL Rules
Lonoke, Arkansas — Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) convened a field hearing in Lonoke, Arkansas where a bipartisan group of House Members repeated their calls for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdrawal its proposed rules for Total Maximum Daily Loads for non-point pollution sources related to agriculture and silviculture.
In August of 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed two changes to the regulations governing the implementation of the Clean Water Act which, if finalized, would fundamentally alter the agency's role in the management of nonpoint sources of pollution. The EPA's proposal has met with widespread opposition to both the substance of these rules and the accelerated process employed by the EPA to bring them to finality. EPA plans to finalize its rules by June 30, 2000 despite repeated requests by states, landowners, and Congress to give the public more time to review the regulations.
"This is as political and cynical as it gets in the world of Washington-knows-best decision making," Goodlatte said. "Like the good people who have gathered here today, I have had enough. This debate is no longer about clean water. It is about political power. I think I can speak not only for myself, but for my colleagues who have joined me here today in saying that we will not sit idly by and watch the EPA roll over the will of the people simply so a few high ranking bureaucrats in Washington can claim a political victory. EPA needs to stop, and they need to stop now. These rules need to be withdrawn, and the agency needs to go back to the drawing board and start over on a policy that is legal, scientific and, most importantly, supported by the people."
In a recently released report, A Review of Waterbodies Listed as Impaired by Silvicultural Operations, the Society of American Foresters and the National Association of State Foresters surveyed all 1040 waterbodies identified by the EPA as impaired by silviculture. Based on information provided by eighteen states, researchers found that silviculture played a possible role in affecting only 84 of these waterbodies. In response to these findings and widespread public criticism, the EPA recently decided to strike the forestry provisions from the proposed rules.
"Based on the embarrassing findings in this report, I can appreciate why EPA has decided to remove the forestry provisions from its proposed rules," Goodlatte said. "However, the implications of this report extend far beyond forestry. It calls into question the credibility of all the scientific data EPA is using to justify its proposed rules."
"Since EPA has refused to listen to the concerns of agriculture and has chosen to go forward with unnecessary regulations without scientific evidence, Congress must act to prevent a severe regulatory burden from being placed on the American farmer," said Rep. Marion Berry (D-AR).
"If severely flawed science were not enough, in recent days the press has uncovered the fact that the EPA is now engaged in secret behind-closed-doors negotiations with environmentalists and others to try and broker a deal on the rules that will earn their endorsement," Goodlatte said. "Of course, those most affected by these rules, the farmers, ranchers and forestland owners of America, have been shut out of these secret meetings."