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It's amazing how different my world is from the world the House Ag Committee Republicans live in. You see, I'm constantly ticked at the EPA for not protecting the environment enough. You know, like allowing a pesticide on the market without testing it for harm against honeybees... then letting the manufacturer do a belated joke of a study, calling it "scientifically sound," and letting it go at that while the bees all die. Then, years later, the EPA looked at the initial study again and realized that actually, it was crap. Only the pesticide is still legal and widely used.

And while I'm worrying about that, our friends on the Republican side of the House Ag Committee are busy yelling about the EPA doing too much! Oh boy. Here's a little taste of what they've been saying lately. And, um, it might be a good idea to call your reps and let them know that you strongly disagree with this. If you want the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, that is.

Let me treat you to a recent floor speech by House Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK). I've annotated it with a little dose of reality:

Mr. Chairman,

Today I rise in support of H.RES. 72.

American agriculture is under attack. Every day the administration seems to demonstrate just how vastly disconnected it is from the folks who feed us. The administration fails to realize that rural America’s economy is dependant on agriculture. The in-your-face-approach that the administration has taken regarding government regulation has increased the cost of doing business for America’s farmers and ranchers. If the administration is allowed to continue down this path, the only choice for many farmers and ranchers will be to stop farming altogether.

From the dairies in Vermont, to the wheat fields near the Chesapeake Bay, to the corn farms in the Midwest, American agriculture is under a constant barrage of irrational and unworkable regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, which are burdensome, overreaching, and that negatively affect jobs and rural economies.

This EPA is mostly interested in pursuing the extreme agenda of environmental groups without any consideration for the impact it will have on our farmers and ranchers. For example:

The EPA wants to treat milk spills like oil spills simply because milk contains animal fat. EPA has suggested that milk storage be regulated under the Clean Water Act as large oil tanks;

Reality: The spilled milk claim is more or less nonsense, basically a non-issue. The EPA is NOT trying to regulate spilled milk like it regulates spilled oil, or won't when the rules are finalized. This seems like the Republicans fishing for something to complain about.

The EPA wants farmers to till fields without producing any dust. Clearly, the folks at EPA have never stepped foot on a farm in western Oklahoma or otherwise they would know that dust happens and all the regulations in the world can’t eliminate its existence;

Reality: His comment about dust is related to the EPA's regulation of Particulate Matter under the Clean Air Act. A friend who blogs as Mental Masala helped me find this. According to him, the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to use good science, and the more scientists look into particulate matter, the more they find that it's harmful to our hearts and lungs. Two years ago, the American Lung Association won a case saying that Bush-era standards were not sufficient and the EPA had to do something about it. Here's what the farmers are saying about it. I have not been able to find more reliable information about what exactly the EPA is trying to do and how it will impact farms.

The EPA wants farmers to ensure that none of the spray they use for pests drifts even one foot away from the original source;

Reality: The Spray Drift issue seems to also be made up. You can find the biotech/pesticide lobby's take on it here, but a December 2010 EPA meeting on the topic shows a very different story. They are talking about LABELS on pesticides to warn against drift. Nothing more. Literally.

The EPA has started an unprecedented, RE-RE-evaluation of the popular weed control product atrazine. In 2006, the EPA completed a 12-year review involving 6,000 studies and 80,000 public comments, yet one of the first orders of business for the Obama administration was to start all over after an article appeared in The New York Times;

Reality: There's good reason to research atrazine. After all, it's so widely used that some of our country has it in their drinking water, and it's an endocrine disruptor. It reduces human male sperm count and can make male fish produce eggs in their testes. It's banned in some countries. (You can find more about it from the interview with atrazine researcher Tyrone Hayes on 8/15/10.)

The EPA is trying to regulate watersheds based off of inaccurate data and flawed models -- a problem recognized even by top officials at USDA.

Reality: And perhaps the most important one of these (because it's a real issue, not made up) - one I'm familiar with. The EPA's efforts to clean up watersheds, beginning with Chesapeake Bay. This is a big deal. So-called "nutrient pollution," which basically means fertilizers and poop, gets into our watersheds and creates dead zones. That's not good, for obvious reasons. The answer is to stop the fertilizer (used on crops) and manure (from livestock) from being applied or disposed of in ways that let them get into our waterways. The farmers - or at least the large, traditional farm lobby organizations - don't want to do that. They'd rather keep polluting, thank you very much. Apparently, the USDA has different information on the watersheds than the EPA does, which is what Lucas is referencing here. And it would be good for whoever is right to do what it takes to clean up the Chesapeake and then the Mississippi, but I have a hunch that whatever is done, if it involves regulating agricultural pollution, we'll continue to get opposition to it from the Farm Bureau and company.

And, on Lucas goes with more complaints. He's not just against the EPA - he's also against the so-called GIPSA rule, a VERY important rule that will make the livestock market more fair and competitive (Action: call the White House at 202-456-1111 this week and tell them you support the GIPSA rule!)

Lucas plans to devote much of this year to bullying federal regulatory agencies oversight hearings, before tackling the farm bill in 2012. So now you've heard from Lucas about his pet issues. Here's what the other Republicans have been saying on these issues.

"There are many examples of actions undertaken by Obama’s EPA, which defy sound science, good judgment and will only result in putting America’s farmers and ranchers out of business." - Rep. Jean Schmidt
"The EPA’s onerous regulatory burdens will have devastating economic impacts on the 5th District and rural communities across America. Small towns, rural farms and ranches will be forced to meet arbitrary requirements and be punished for the federal government’s unwillingness to recognize the environmental gains from voluntary conservation practices at the state and local levels. We must act to remove the cloud of uncertainty this administration’s burdensome requirements have cast over rural America, and build on the practices and knowledge of local communities to strengthen American agriculture."
- Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson
"The current administration has spent the last two years piling on regulation after regulation that make it more difficult for small businesses and family farms to grow and create jobs."
- Rep. Austin Scott
"Environmental Protection Agency’s Boiler MACT ruling would lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. This ruling is only one in a long line of troubling rule-making decisions by the EPA and other federal agencies. We cannot continue to be faced with regulations that are not consistent, that overly impede on particular industries, discourage innovation, and eliminate jobs and businesses. I look forward to Congress exerting their oversight power and to reign in the federal agencies." - Rep. Martha Roby
"I came to Washington to bring some common sense to a city sorely lacking it. We have too many regulations being written by bureaucrats who have no idea what the real world is like. I welcome the opportunity this resolution provides for us to bring these regulators in and give them a picture of what life is in the world outside the beltway." - Rep. Tim Huelskamp
"To get our economy moving and creating jobs again we need to eliminate the impediments to growth. The simple fact is federal regulations have increased the cost of doing business and destroyed jobs. That is something small business owners and farmers have told me again and again as I have traveled across the 20th District. A prime example of this is a proposed EPA regulation that would treat spilled milk like spilled oil – thereby incurring an additional cost burden on dairy farmers, which decreases profitability and makes them less likely to expand." - Rep. Christopher Gibson
"The EPA is advancing numerous proposals that are harmful to agriculture. One rule wants to regulate dust on our farms. They call it ‘air quality.’ Where I’m from it’s called ‘living in the country.’ In case the bureaucrats in Washington haven’t heard, driving on a gravel road and planting seeds in the soil makes dust! We don’t need Washington to regulate dust. We need common sense." - Rep. Vicky Hartzler

And a little more hate for GIPSA thrown in for good measure:

"GIPSA’s proposed rule governing livestock and poultry marketing practices will have costly, unintended consequences for our nation’s livestock producers, leading to higher consumer prices, lower producer income and reduced competitiveness. Members of both parties have raised questions about the scope, process, and intent of this rulemaking, which was not even accompanied by a cost-benefit analysis. USDA must reconsider this proposed rule."
- Rep. Thomas J. Rooney

Great group, huh? It's gonna be a long two years.

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Comment Preferences

    •  The GOP (8+ / 0-)

      has been against anything and everything that is pro-person and might just nick the profit line a little bit.  Their cravenness for profits above all else will leave a country so shattered that there will be nothing left to exploit.

      Every time I hear one of these Republican morons lament about how oppressed agriculture is, I look at the five major corporations who grow 95% of the crops and cattle in this country and I say,  "Oh those poor billionaires.  How ever will they survive under those mountains of regulation?"

      The answer is simple, really.  The corporations simply buy judges and Congress people to eliminate the checks and balances on their profits.  That's what's happening and will continue to happen under "Let's take our country back." thinking.  

      I'm glad I'm old.  Today's children will suddenly have to look up from their 2 x 3 world of texting and find they don't have a country, money, food or anything else.

      Hey.  It only took 250 years to grow and destroy the best experiment in the human condition ever.  That's what people do.  

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 05:18:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The same old (7+ / 0-)

    "talking points" (= lies) over and over again. It's hard to believe they take themselves seriously, or that they ever did. Big Ag money talks and it makes me sick to my stomach to think of the harm this House can do in two years, all too soon after the horribly harmful Bush era.  

    A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

    by translatorpro on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 04:14:15 AM PST

    •  The point of the lies is to keep (7+ / 0-)

      people busy refuting them.  Distraction is part of a good offense, especially when you're dealing with people who actually get things done when you're not harassing them.

      Picking on the EPA is like little boys sticking little girls' pigtails in the ink well to distract from the fact that they haven't a clue what's going on in class and are tired of being bested by the girls who do.

      It used to be said that "those who can't, teach."  More accurate would be "those who can't, act up and distract."  The practice of promoting the incompetent likely accounts for many of them ending up in Congress.

      The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

      by hannah on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 06:32:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here in Florida... (6+ / 0-)

    the EPA has been in the process of setting nutrient standards for Florida water bodies (including canals).  They recently passed new rules, but deferred implementation I believe by some 15 months.  I have a problem with the inconsistent standards, as South Florida has more stringent standards than all of the entire state, even while most of the water that flows here flows from the north.  In the meanwhile, the new standards are being challenged.

    On the altrazine matter, this is an herbicide used widely in sugar cane production, and is link to cancer, birth-defects and gender defects in wildlife.  I support the EPAs efforts to research (and ban use if necessary!).

  •  They use such warm and fuzzy language (6+ / 0-)

    to enable their masters to create death, destruction, murder and mayhem.

    They are big fat liars and there will be nowhere for the rich masters to escape to when the earth is poisoned irreparably since we spend all of our money supporting evil rich people, wars, and criminal injustice.
    Completely ridiculous!

    John KKKasich, R-OH-gov hates black people, women, and children.

    by OHknighty on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 05:25:04 AM PST

  •  In case after case across a wide (6+ / 0-)

    spectrum of issues it turns out that Republicans are either stupid, lying or grossly ignorant and don't care.

    When they say things like all the examples you've listed they suck all the rationality out of the air leaving no time to talk about legitimate issues requiring concerted effort to deal with them.

    Great group, indeed.

    Unapologetically pro-citizen. Not anti-corporation just very pro-citizen.

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 06:34:23 AM PST

  •  Compliance with Pesticide Labelling (6+ / 0-)

    is a legal requirement; saying something is just a matter of putting words on a label shows a lack of understanding of pesticide regulations.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 07:08:31 AM PST

  •  Jill, it appears we have our work cut (6+ / 0-)

    out for us. The frustration level around our food supply is pretty intense on the part of those interested in protecting it. Now let's see if we can formulate a way to help raise public awareness of what is happening to this crucial commodity.

    One of the advantages of living in Vermont is that although the state is small in size, agriculture is a big part of the economy. It was a driving factor, then faded as milk prices declined. Now our new Democratic (yeah!) governor is touting his accomplishment at getting McDonalds to serve real maple syrup in some breakfast thing or other. But that simple change will make millions for Vermont maple producers, the biggest maple producers in the nation. And McDs may introduce real Vermont maple syrup elsewhere in its chain.

    This is a tiny accomplishment, but shows what a targeted effort can accomplish. And Vermont's congressional group are all embedded in promoting agriculture, because, apart from green technology, it is the only potential growth area for the state.

    So Vermont is committed to safe, sustainable agricultural methods, from young people looking to live a rural life, to the statehouse and congress. Vermont legislators fought long and hard to keep Montsanto from planting GMO crops in the state.

    If we can formulate some suggestions to implement at the state level to model for the nation, I will bring them to our state and national legislators, and think we will get a good reception.

    Let's round up some ideas and see what we can do.

    Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. - Abraham Lincoln

    by 4Freedom on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 08:24:56 AM PST

  •  Thanks Jill (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    homo neurotic, Jill Richardson, DawnN

    looks like this dk4 is actually delivering diaries to me I would have missed in the fray of diaries speeding past. I am curious about what can be done on a state or local level about this. Seems to me that the Feds are locked in endless faux political power struggles in which neither side is going to do anything that will interfere with 'business' it's all about the show. I will call my reps, they are pretty good as I'm in OR.  It just seems like there must be a way to regionally work this. Thanks again for your work.

    •  good call (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, translatorpro, DawnN

      I agree. State and local levels are where it's at now. Not just from a government/regulatory point of view but also in terms of just plain old visiting farmers markets or setting up new ones, starting community gardens, etc.

      •  Even in the legislatiive bodies (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jill Richardson, translatorpro, DawnN

        we have gotten some good our state houses that see encouraging small agriculture and organics as a way to create jobs regionally. There is a big battle going on for a state bank here which  would help with capitalization for local economies.  Somehow we need to make a dent in big ags vice grip of non food production that just adds to the killing of the earth. Locally politics may be money driven but people can and do have more of a say and it's easier to hold the line.

        As for the bees, my neighborhood is full of them, all varieties and shapes. A minuscule pesticide free zone and  organic/native planted  habitats that draws them. We had last summer to colonies that swarmed and settled within my two block radius.  They seem to really like lavender and  my herbs, cover crop (scarlet clover) and veggies.


      •  I was impressed by (0+ / 0-)

        this article a couple of years ago and thought "That's the future":

          Uniting Around Food ...

        I'm sure there are more initiatives like this around, which should definitely be fostered. Any ideas on how to do that?

        A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

        by translatorpro on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 01:56:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hm, link is not doing what (0+ / 0-)

          it's supposed to. Basically it's an article from the NYT about how a Vermont town became prosperous after its main businesses (2 granite companies) shut down and how developing new business based on healthy food has changed the lives of the people there.
          You can google it under the title:

          "Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town" by Marian Burros, published Oct 8, 2008

          A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

          by translatorpro on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 02:01:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  God dang it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    homo neurotic, translatorpro

    I wish these people would just stop LYING.  It causes so much harm and creates even more problems.

    Let there be balance in all things.

    by DawnG on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 02:06:21 PM PST

  •  Lately, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Lately, I have come to think that EPA is purposely slow at making rules because the are tuned into their opposition, and thus are overly cautious with the intent to avoid too much of an organized backlash.  At least that seems to have worked in the past.  But the money is against them now, so even if they only make decisions based on a super-high scientific threshold, they will face legislative retribution.

    Thanks for publishing these.  If you could include the original sources for the quotes, it would be awesome.  It is always a good idea to hold onto these types of over-the-top quotes for the next election.  (Supposing dems can get the nerve to run attack ads focused on the individual as well as the Republican Party)

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