Randy Veach 2017-08-19 00:29:01
A New EPA? Administrator’s visit a hopeful step forward As a result of Arkansas’s efforts, 76 percent of water bodies classified as impaired in 2008 are no longer considered such. After the announcement, 335 waters are now considered to satisfy Arkansas’s water quality standards. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt came to Arkansas in late June, seeking to solidify a partnership with this country’s most active environmentalists, our farmers and ranchers. I have, admittedly, been a consistent critic of the regulatory overreach of the EPA during the past 10 years, so I’m pleased to see Administrator Pruitt’s outreach to the men and women who tend the soil and raise our livestock. He has declared that the days of “sue and settle” are over. No longer will environmental groups negotiate with the EPA behind closed doors, with no public participation, to define regulatory priorities and rules outside of the normal rule-making process. There is actually not a more obvious and logical partner than agriculture and the EPA. We’re all about taking care of our environment sensibly, allowing us to use our natural resources in a way that enables us to feed, clothe and provide shelter for much of the world. Administrator Pruitt was the second Cabinet-level appointee to come to Arkansas this year, following USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue’s visit to view agricultural flooding in May. Sec. Perdue has also made it a priority to sit down for face-to-face conversations with farmers and ranchers, determined to find the best way for our government to support and undergird our industry, not regulate and restrict it in a way that stifles productivity. While in Arkansas, Administrator Pruitt announced that the EPA approved Arkansas’ 303(d) list of water quality standards, which sets forth Arkansas’ impaired waters. Arkansas’ list has been pending before the EPA since 2010. As a result of Arkansas’ efforts, 76 percent of water bodies classified as impaired in 2008 are no longer considered such. After the announcement, 335 waters are now considered to satisfy Arkansas’ water quality standards. Pruitt also met with Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Agriculture Sec. Wes Ward, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Director Becky Keogh and Bruce Holland, director of the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission. Pruitt made the point that EPA – which had for far too long employed an adversarial position with state regulatory authorities – wanted to work more closely with states to achieve effective environmental outcomes in a real-life example of cooperation. Farmers and ranchers across this country are cheering EPA’s proposal to ditch its flawed Waters of the U.S. rule. We know the importance of clean water, and farmers and ranchers work hard to protect our natural resources every day. But this rule was never really about clean water. It was a federal land grab designed to put a straight-jacket on farming and private businesses across this nation. That’s why our federal courts blocked it from going into effect for the past two years. EPA Administrator Pruitt recognizes the formerly proposed WOTUS rule for what it is – an illegal and dangerous mistake that needs to be corrected. Farm Bureau supports Administrator Pruitt’s proposal. EPA should ditch this rule once and for all, go back to the drawing board, and write a new rule that protects water quality without trampling the rights of businesses and the states. Arkansas Farm Bureau represents all forms of agriculture, big and small, row crop and livestock, throughout our state. The EPA has the ability to enable or hinder every type of farming operation. So it was refreshing to have Administrator Pruitt in Arkansas, not at odds with agriculture and with a good-faith hand, reaching out to affirm a partnership. As farmers and ranchers, our commitment to the land and our environment is more foundational than conceptual. We make our living from the land and our water. America’s farmers produce the safest and most affordable food supply in the world, even while the EPA was applying unneeded regulation on our backs in the name of environmental protection. It’s encouraging to know that the country’s most natural partnership – agriculture and the EPA – is on the right track. Thank you for your visit, Administrator Pruitt, and we look forward to your next trip to the Natural State.
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