WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, requesting answers to questions submitted by members of the Senate Agriculture Committee at a hearing eight months ago that remain unanswered.
“As EPA continues to release proposals that have an increasing impact on agriculture, this inaction is of serious concern,” Roberts states in the letter. “Eight months is far too long for our farmers, ranchers and other interested constituents to wait for answers to the critical questions affecting rural America.”
Administrator Jackson appeared before the committee last fall at a hearing examining the impact of EPA regulations on agriculture. As part of the hearing, the committee asked a variety of questions regarding production agriculture, dioxin, prescribed burns and how the EPA can better work with urban centers and rural ranchers in addressing ozone non-attainment days, regulating greenhouse gases, EPA regulations of dust and pesticides, and pesticide spray drift, just to name a few.
Jackson also met with committee members earlier this year, and agreed to provide written follow-up to items raised by senators. But the committee still has not received any answers from the EPA.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Administrator Jackson:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) undertakes many regulatory actions that have a significant impact on agriculture and rural America. With that involvement, it is important for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry to maintain oversight of activities relating to our domestic agriculture and silviculture industries.
On September 23, 2010, you appeared before the committee at a hearing entitled Oversight Hearing to Examine the Impact of EPA Regulation on Agriculture. I appreciated your participation in this hearing. However to date the committee has failed to receive your responses to questions addressing specific agricultural concerns from several members of the committee. Yesterday marked the eighth full month since the committee hearing was held. It is difficult to comprehend how your agency has been unable to provide any written responses in the months that have passed.
I also remind you that when you met with the members of the committee in March of this year, you further agreed to provide us information in writing to clarify the intended results of certain EPA actions. As in the case of responses to our hearing questions, we have yet to receive any official documents from you or your staff.
As EPA continues to release proposals that will have an increasing impact on agriculture, this inaction is of serious concern. EPA is frequently criticized for a lack of transparency and unclear guidance in its actions. Further, assertions are often made that the regulatory proposals coming from EPA are outside the bounds of its legal authority. To date, your failure to respond to customary questions from the committee do little to dispel, or even lessen, these criticisms.
I urge you to cooperate with the committee and respond to inquiries submitted last September. Eight months is far too long for our farmers, ranchers and other interested constituents to wait for answers to the critical questions affecting rural America.