House Ag lawmakers told the Environmental Protection Agency the agency's new pollution permit requirement for the Chesapeake Bay exceeds its authority, has no cost-benefit analysis and will force land out of production, not just in the East, but in the Midwest.
The American Farm Bureau has already filed suit with the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, but EPA's still moving to model runoff in the Mississippi River watershed for another possible permit rule like the one finalized in December for the Chesapeake Bay.
House Ag Conservation Subcommittee Chair Glen Thompson, R-Pa., says the cost to farmers and taxpayers will be huge, and points out EPA's loss in the court this week on a similar front.
"The U.S. Court of Appeals of the 5th District in New Orleans essentially said that the EPA its statutory authority in requiring Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations that might discharge to apply for CWA permits," Thompson said. "The fact is that it was an unanimous decision by that court that the EPA cannot require livestock operations to obtain Clean Water Act permits unless and until they have a discharge into the waterways of the United States."
Former Agriculture Chair Collin Peterson, D-Minn., accused EPA of settling some lawsuits in the watershed permit case with environmentalists so it can issue rules it wants, even after Congress approved new conservation funding in the last Farm Bill.
"The EPA puts on these requirements and don't bring any money to fix it," Peterson said. "We put the money in, if they don't like what we're doing maybe we'll take our money back and the EPA can go find the money from Bay Foundation or whoever these other people are to fix this."
Another former Agriculture Committee Chairman, Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told EPA's deputy administrator the agency's done no cost-benefit analysis, and is even requiring some states to treat small farms like CAFOs.
EPA's Bob Perciasepe estimated billions in environmental benefits from EPA's total maximum daily load or TMDL permits, but couldn't put a figure on costs. And he admitted that despite EPA cooperation with the states, if states don't implement its water quality program as set forth by the Clean Water Act, there are provisions for EPA to set the standards and do some of the permitting.
Perciasepe also revealed EPA has asked for an independent analysis of its pollution modeling, which a Farm Bureau-sponsored study shows is less favorable to farms than modeling by USDA.