US environment agency accused of breaking law over water bill
This will come as a modicum of good news for the US beef industry, after the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) said it would “fight” the EPA to overturn the clean water bill.
At a hearing for the EPA’s alleged misconduct last week, the agency’s administrator Gina McCarthy was grilled by a cross-party panel of Republican and Democratic politicians.
“You broke the law,” said democrat Bobby Scott. “It needs to be admitted, it needs to be recognised and, furthermore, you spent taxpayers’ money in the lobbying. And the GAO [Government Accountability Office] reports it’s $64,610 that you spent in lobbying from February 2014 to 2015. Now, let’s come clean with this, so we can correct this; there’s no way you’re going to correct this if you don’t realise that you’ve drastically overstepped here.”
WOTUS is a piece of legislation backed by the EPA and US President Barack Obama. Last month the President vetoed a bipartisan resolution of disapproval on the clean water bill, and was met with a barrage of condemnation from politicians and the beef industry.
‘Risk to cattle producers’
After the EPA’s hearing at Congress, NCBA president Tracy Brunner said McCarthy’s grilling proved there was broad opposition to the clean waters bill.
“While the WOTUS rule remains under a judicial stay, we all understand that is only temporary,” said Brunner. “This rule poses a significant risk to cattle producers and all land-use stakeholders. The overwhelming requests to withdraw the WOTUS rule by the bipartisan members of the House Agriculture Committee mirror those of America’s farmers and ranchers.”
Fighting the ruling remains one of the top priorities for the NCBA this year. The association, which represents over 230,000 beef producers, breeders and feeders, has already filed a lawsuit against the EPA and said it would “continue to pursue litigation and legislation” over the clean water bill.