Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (PA-15), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, delivered the following opening remarks at today's full committee hearing to receive testimony from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Good morning. Administrator Regan, thank you for taking the time to be here with us today. While the scope of this Committee’s jurisdiction over EPA actions is limited, nearly every decision coming from the EPA has the potential to disproportionately impact rural America and those living and working there.
"I think we can all agree farmers, ranchers, and foresters are the original conservationists, and no one cares more for the environment than those whose livelihoods depend on it.
"In the first hearing I hosted as the Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Members heard about a variety of challenges American farmers and ranchers are currently facing. A recurring theme throughout that hearing was uncertainty, mostly stemming from nonsensical regulations and policies perpetuated by the Biden Administration. From my vantage point, it appears EPA and USDA are not only playing in one another’s sandbox, but are perpetuating wrongheaded priorities: EPA wants to dictate what producers grow, and how to grow it, and USDA is laser focused on expanding funding and policies related to climate.
"Historically, EPA has overregulated the agriculture industry. This continues today, whether it be the war against crop protection tools, regulatory whiplash about what defines a water of the United States (WOTUS), or a top-down prescription of electric vehicles.
"American farmers and ranchers need access to crop protection tools to control damaging pests and weeds, increase yields with fewer inputs, and implement voluntary, incentive-based conservation practices such as reduced- and no-till. Until recently, producers relied on the science-driven, risk-based registration and registration review process established under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to provide certainty surrounding the use of these tools.
"In the past two years, the Agency has sought to restrict or cancel several important chemistries including chlorpyrifos, atrazine, rodenticides, organophosphates, and many more. Additionally, it is concerning to hear USDA expertise and advice was ignored in many of these decisions.
"These actions erode public trust in the regulatory process, undermine confidence in the scientific integrity of the EPA, and cause extreme uncertainty for producers who seek to provide the world with the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food and fiber supply in the world.
"Simply put, any decisions related to crop protection tools should be based on actual science—not political science.
"Additionally, and something of bipartisan interest, is uncertainty created by the Biden Administration’s efforts to redefine WOTUS.
"This is the third time in seven years the Agency has attempted to rewrite this definition under the Clean Water Act and comes only two years after the Navigable Waters Protection Rule finally provided long awaited certainty for farmers, ranchers, and landowners.
"While producers wait for the Supreme Court’s decision on a case related to WOTUS regulations, the Biden Administration’s definition is far from being 'durable,' as claimed by the EPA. In fact, the rule has already been blocked from going into effect across 26 states. Further, both the House and Senate recently passed a bipartisan resolution of disapproval. I was proud to cosponsor that resolution and would like to thank Ranking Member Scott for joining us in the effort to provide certainty for those who need it most. I am disappointed President Biden once again turned his back on rural America and vetoed this resolution.
"In your confirmation hearing, you, Administrator Regan, promised to have an 'open door policy' for farmers. This commitment to listen, combined with your understanding of agriculture, seemed promising to many; however, the regulatory agenda being pursued by this Administration constantly misses the mark and exposes rural America to further ambiguity and wrongheaded policies.
"In 1956, President Eisenhower said, 'Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.' This rings true today, and I implore the Agency to spend more time in the field and less time proposing disastrous, untested rulemakings.
"Administrator Regan, thank you again for being with us today. This hearing is long overdue, and I know my colleagues are looking forward to this discussion.
"I now yield to the distinguished Ranking Member, Mr. Scott."