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Agriculture Today

Ranchers applaud House vote to rein in EPA, Interior Department

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July 27, 2011 | 3,288 views | Post a comment

In a big win for ranchers in Texas and across the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives on July 13 passed two bills that will help rein in over-regulation by federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Interior. According to a July 14 Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association press release, both agencies have proposed regulations that would allow the federal government to further regulate private property, a move that will severely harm the Texas ranching industry.

The House Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year 2012 interior and environment appropriations bill. Included in the bill is language that would prevent the EPA from using 2012 funds to advance the regulation of rural dust on private property as well as language to stop attempts from EPA to expand the agency’s authority over private waters through a guidance document.

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers President Joe Parker Jr. said that ranchers have been strongly opposed to these proposed regulations by the EPA because they lack sound science and, in many instances, could subject ranchers to burdensome compliance costs, require them to obtain federal permits, and require them to hire engineers and attorneys to guide them through the permitting process, and defend themselves against unnecessary federal regulation.

Also included in the funding bill was a provision to limit new listings under the Endangered Species Act. There are currently 50 species in Texas waiting to be listed, including the dunes sagebrush lizard.

Parker said that this is a major issue for Texas ranchers because if many of these species are listed, much of the private ranching land within the habitat ranges will be off limits to cattle and brush control, which he said would not only harm the Texas beef industry, but also increase the chances for wildfires.

“Ranchers work to protect the environment, but we can’t continue to do this if our land is controlled by someone else. And that seems to be the goal of the federal government. First our water, then our air, and now our land through unscientific and inconclusive regulatory decisions made by those who believe the federal government should have control over everything we own,” Parker said.

The House also approved HR 2018, a bill that would prevent the EPA from overruling state decisions on water quality. Under the Clean Water Act, states have the responsibility for protecting waterways after the EPA signs off on their plans, but the EPA continues to reverse its decision by proposing burdensome and unscientific regulations that end up hurting the states economically. The cattle raisers along with other industries sent a letter to the entire U.S. House asking them to support HR 2018, outlining the negative effects it would have on the state’s economy.

“EPA continues to push their own agenda by disregarding the rules set out by Congress,” Parker said. “Thankfully, the U.S. House is holding their feet to the fire and working to put an end to regulations based on little more than opinions. We applaud the House and look forward to working with the Senate to make sure these bills remain intact.”

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