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Thune to EPA Administrator: Stop Overreaching Regulations on Farmers, Ranchers

Opening statement from Agriculture Committee hearing

September 23, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC —  At a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing today, Senator John Thune expressed his growing frustration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Lisa Jackson, regarding the agency's overreaching, burdensome environmental policies, which continue to negatively impact our nation's farmers and ranchers. Thune also expressed his frustration with EPA's continued delay in approving E15--a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline--for use in non-flex-fuel vehicles.

Full text of Thune's opening statement is included below.

"The Environmental Protection Agency has become public enemy number one of our farmers and ranchers.

"Over the past August break, I had the opportunity to meet with corn growers, wheat growers, soybean growers, cattle producers and pork producers. Each of these groups had issues that were specific to their industry, but they all had one common concern-and that was the overreaching EPA regulations and the harm that they are doing to their industry and to rural areas.

"From greenhouse gas regulations to threats to regulate dust and ban the use of Atrazine-it just seems like ag producers are in the crosshairs of EPA. In every case, they are actions that drive up costs and drive down the profits of our family farms and ranches.

"It just seems to me that we are losing our way when you have people in rural America asking the federal government not for help, but just to stop hurting our rural communities.

"At the same we have decisions that could be helpful, such as the E15 issue which the Senator from Minnesota mentioned, that remain undecided. I am pleased to hear that that process is moving forward.

"Our ag producers are the best stewards of our land and environment. They go to work each day not just to make a living, but to feed the world and preserve the land for future generations. They are very frustrated.

"I just want to read you a quote from the panel that will follow you, from Mr. Rich Hillman, who is a rice, soybean, and wheat producer. He states that, `Farmers have never felt more challenged and more threatened in their livelihood than they do today from the continuous onslaught of regulations and requirements from the EPA.'

"He goes on to say, `The EPA proposals are overwhelming to farmers and ranchers and they are creating a cascade of costly requirements that are likely to drive individual farmers to the tipping point. In addition to driving up the cost to producing food, fiber, and fuel, these proposals highlight the EPA's goal of controlling land use and water supplies. In many cases they will bring citizen suit enforcement and judicial review of individual farming practices.'

"I will tell you, that is what I heard from the agricultural groups and individual producers all across South Dakota. I know that at times out here what seems to makes sense just really doesn't in the rural areas of our country.

"I make that as an observation and express the frustration that I heard from individual producers during the August break."