WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02), a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, questioned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy regarding the impact of the agency’s policies on farmers across Indiana. Walorski asked McCarthy about the agency’s overreaching, burdensome regulations and policies such as the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, proposed changes to the ozone standard and pesticide uses, and their impact on the farmers and the agriculture industry.
Walorski said, “In a state like in Indiana…we lead our nation in coal, in ag, and in heavy manufacturing. The toll on jobs because of this issue of heavy handed government, there’s really no other way to explain it. I understand your intention, but I also understand that I’ve been around long enough that we’ve been able to have great gains in this country with a partner in the EPA and when we talked about humility and we talked about attitude, there is gigantic tone problem.”
According to one news report, “McCarthy acknowledged at Thursday’s hearing that there is a blurred line between a federal agency informing the public about regulations and illegal lobbying and propaganda.”
“The EPA was really considered a partner, a partner with industry, a partner with farmers…From what I heard from my farmers is that today’s EPA has become a punitive revenue generator for big government,” Walorski said.
Click here to watch Walorski’s questions to McCarthy.. Full remarks are below.
Walorski Remarks to EPA Administrator McCarthy
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Administrator, thanks so much — I’m over here.
I said hello earlier and I again wanted to invite you to northern Indiana to my district for a couple of reasons. So, I’ve sat here for a couple of hours and you have to. And here’s the issue in my district. In northern Indiana, where I represent, we have one of the largest manufacturing districts in the country, not just the Midwest.
In the southern part of the state, we have coal mines and we are strewn throughout with ag, heavy agriculture as well. And so, I look at this and I’ve said since the day I came to Congress and even prior, Indiana is a good role model for being good stewards to the environment and good stewards to the economy.
And I could give you, I could show you places in my district where, you know, we are really out of the box and we’re doing things that are incredibly creative to be so much more good stewards of the environment, but nobody is a better steward of the environment than the family farmer because their complete livelihood depends on taking care of that area.
So, I do agricultural tours every single time I’m in the district and on the last agricultural tour, you know we’ve been able to diversify, we’ve been able to do great things in our state, we’ve been able to do some great clean water things that I think are exemplary. But I came away from there, and I’m old enough to remember when the EPA was really considered a partner, a partner with industry, a partner with farmers, and really came along side, especially in our state.
We have an incredible Indiana Department of Environmental Management that comes alongside, not to be punitive, not to penalize, but to incentivize and to keep people from really getting in trouble. I came away from this agricultural tour really having an understanding that in my mind, from what I heard from my farmers is that today’s EPA has become a punitive revenue generator for big government – and it bothers me because I sit on this committee and I know there is a lot of well intentions, but when it comes to this WOTUS rule, and I get, I understand exactly why the frustration is so high in this room on both sides. This is not a partisan issue today. This is an issue of Americans and farmers and members that represent them trying to come to grips with an understanding of, really?
And in a state like in Indiana, we are in a target virtually in every single portion of what we do and what we lead our nation in — in coal, in ag, and in heavy manufacturing. The toll on jobs because of this issue of heavy handed government, there’s really no other way to explain it. I understand your intention, but I also understand that I’ve been around long enough that we’ve been able to have great gains in this country with a partner in the EPA and when we talked about humility and we talked about attitude, there is gigantic tone problem.
When I come out of my district, hearing from people all over the state saying that it’s a punitive regulating system and when EPA comes calling, we don’t even have the chance to even implement rule number one and here comes implementation of rule number two. And I’m curious, especially on WOTUS. I agree with my, my colleagues here. I would ask you to pull this rule and bring shareholders around this and let’s do it right, let’s do it balanced. I’m not calling for one extreme or the other.
I believe there is a balance between good stewards, good stewards of the economy and I can tell you that my state does that. But my question is this, so when we talk about on one hand you say that the EPA doesn’t intend to regulate every ditch, but on the other hand we look actual implementation of the rural ditch exemption appears to leave some room. So here is my question. So, is the ditch exemption automatically given if a business, farmer, or local government believes it’s exempt or do they have to prove it’s exempt?
Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District in Indiana, where she serves as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee and House Committee on Agriculture.