The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has met with some of her fiercest critics, but seems unwilling to modify a proposed change to the Clean Water Act.
Sen. Mike Johanns joined other Republican senators from the Senate Agriculture Committee in confronting EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, arguing against expansion of the Clean Water Act which could lead to the regulation of ponds and streams on farms.
“She was polite and she listened to us, but at the end of the day, I’m not certain that we moved the ball down the field at all,” Johanns tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call. “I think she’s determine to regulate. I think she believes she has the power to do that and she’s going to do it.”
The EPA is considering the removal of the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act, a word that restricts the EPA’s regulatory power to bodies of water that support watercraft. Agricultural groups worry removal would allow the regulatory arm of the EPA to reach into agricultural operations, with the potential to impose federal regulations on ponds, creeks, streams, even ditches which run only after heavy rains.
The proposal to expand the Clean Water Act only feeds fears that added federal regulations could greatly harm the Midwest economy.
Johanns and others have criticized the EPA proposal to mandate states cut carbon dioxide emissions 30% by 2030, a move they contend would greatly increase the cost of electricity in a section of the country that relies heavily on coal-fired power plants.
Johanns says Republicans expressed frustration with what he calls a long list of regulatory burdens against agriculture.
“The five-and-a-half years of this administration giving ag producers the cold shoulder when it comes to regulations really does need to end.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]