Why West Virginia Must Stand Up to the Environmental Protection Agency
As a practicing, successful farmer for over 15 years in Monongalia County, I am troubled by the increasingly frequent news of my colleagues in the agribusiness who are being forced to wage costly legal defenses against the heavy-handed EPA. Our farmers in the eastern panhandle of the state are only the latest victims of the cumbersome regulations of the EPA.Currently, there is an extensive and somewhat laudable effort underway to eliminate pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. The jurisdiction for this effort falls under a portion of the Clean Water Act, the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which has a direct fiscal impact on the agribusinesses of the eastern panhandle counties. Unfortunately, this regulation forces farmers to comply with environmental standards that are not only expensive, but are based on unproven science. Farmers are in the line of the EPA's fire as it relates to the pollution of the Chesapeake, while it has not been scientifically proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the activities of agribusinesses are responsible for the very at-issue pollutants traveling into the Bay. Indeed, "business as usual" for the EPA means to litigate our state’s farmers who are deemed to be incompliant without adequate scientific justification or concern over the negative economic ramifications on these small businesses and our state as a whole.
West Virginia does not need mandates from the EPA that do little to help the environment and that aim to control the day to day actions of farmers. With the right leadership in place, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture will be capable of encouraging environmental stewardship and using sound science and analysis to target and fix problems while ensuring that our state’s agribusiness continues to flourish with the result of increased jobs and a booming West Virginia economy. Such an approach would ensure that the primary role of the EPA be reduced to an organization that disseminates information, while allowing our Department of Agriculture to work with both scientists and farmers to fix problems and improve farming methods here in our own backyard. As farmers, we are natural stewards of the land and we must be willing to embrace voluntary approaches to environmental stewardship. We have always welcomed practices that reduce negative impact on streams and waterways because we recognize that we are the most immediately affected when there is degradation because of our proximity.
If elected to serve as your next Commissioner of Agriculture, I will battle against the Obama Administration so that our farmers, agribusinesses and state economy are no longer suffering at the hands of the EPA.Further, I will fight to change the "business as usual" prosecution the EPA imposes through expensive litigation and law suits. You see, I firmly believe the job of government is to work to encourage a free market that will create growth of all business, rather than cavalierly eliminating jobs and destroying local economies with lawsuits and burdensome regulations. This is our state and together we must be willing to stand up to the president and his administrators or we will feel the damaging repercussions for decades to come.