IA-01: Braley seeks more ag power over environmental rules

Representative Bruce Braley (D, IA-01) has introduced a bipartisan bill to put more people “with agricultural backgrounds” on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board. The full press release from Braley’s office is after the jump. Excerpt:

“Our farmers must have a voice when it comes to their life’s work,” said Congressman Braley. “This bill will give them a chance to bring some common sense to EPA regulations that have an effect on them every single day.”

The EPA Science Advisory Board provides analysis and recommendations for EPA regulations and other technical matters that often impact agriculture. Farmers have become increasingly concerned that EPA decisions are creating unnecessary and undue economic hardship. For example, proposals to regulate dust on farms have raised concerns. Braley recently voted to protect Iowa farms from these burdensome federal dust regulations.

I don’t know the details on the proposed dust rules. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has spoken with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson about the issue and has urged farmers not to worry about excessive regulation of dust clouds on farms.

From where I’m sitting, it’s a bad time for Congress to pick on the EPA Science Advisory Board. While Braley implies EPA regulations are lacking in “common sense,” I see an agency that has recently backed off from protecting public health in order to appease certain industries and political opponents.

Here in Iowa, the last thing we need is another politician arguing that environmental regulations threaten farmers. Iowans with agricultural backgrounds have long been well represented on environmental regulatory and advisory bodies in this state. Now our Republican governor has handed over the state Environmental Protection Commission to agribusiness advocates and may move all water quality and monitoring programs to the agriculture department, something that hasn’t been done anywhere else in the country. Braley doesn’t seem too aware of the relationship between agricultural pollution and Iowa’s water quality problems; last year he supported a proposed expansion of a Scott County hog confinement despite evidence that the operator had previously violated manure discharge rules.

Braley’s press release names several agricultural groups supporting his new legislation. Perhaps this bill will help bolster his position as a voice for Iowa farmers. He lost most of the rural counties in his district in the 2010 election (pdf), and Iowa’s forthcoming four-district map will add more rural counties to the first Congressional district.

Braley has long championed the biofuels industry. He received the Iowa Corn Growers Association endorsement last year and won praise from the Renewable Fuels Association last month for “raising awareness about the anti-ethanol, anti-fuel choice agenda of some members of Congress.” (Braley clashed with Republican Representative Tom Latham (IA-04) over an amendment to confirm the EPA’s power to implement the Renewable Fuels Standard.) However, the Iowa Farm Bureau didn’t endorse a candidate in IA-01 last year. Although the American Farm Bureau supports Braley’s new bill on the EPA Science Advisory Board, I doubt the Iowa Farm Bureau would back him in 2012, especially if redistricting pits him against Latham. Braley voted for the 2009 climate change bill that the Farm Bureau strongly opposed and helped to bury in the Senate.

Incidentally, Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03) was among the House Agriculture Committee Democrats who lobbied successfully to weaken the climate change bill’s impact on agriculture. I don’t recall Braley getting involved in that fight.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

UPDATE: On March 16 Braley and Boswell jointly introduced an amendment to preserve federal funding for “local governments and organizations to purchase and renovate foreclosed properties for resale in rural communities.” The press release on that amendment is after the jump.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 15, 2011

Congressmen Braley, Stutzman and Senators Klobuchar, Lugar Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Give Farmers Greater Say over Regulations

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) introduced a bipartisan bill to ensure that Iowa farmers have a seat at the table during the decision-making process for environmental policies and regulations that could affect U.S. agriculture.

Rep. Braley introduced the bill with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Congressman Marlin Stutzman (IN-03). The Representation for Farmers Act would give the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to appoint up to three members with agricultural backgrounds to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board. This would ensure that the EPA gets technical advice from farmers when determining implementation of proposed regulations. Currently, only three of the board’s 48 members have agricultural backgrounds.

“Our farmers must have a voice when it comes to their life’s work,” said Congressman Braley. “This bill will give them a chance to bring some common sense to EPA regulations that have an effect on them every single day.”

The EPA Science Advisory Board provides analysis and recommendations for EPA regulations and other technical matters that often impact agriculture. Farmers have become increasingly concerned that EPA decisions are creating unnecessary and undue economic hardship. For example, proposals to regulate dust on farms have raised concerns. Braley recently voted to protect Iowa farms from these burdensome federal dust regulations.

The bill has been endorsed by the National Farmers Union, American Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, National Wheat Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

March 16, 2011

Boswell, Braley Lead Fight for Rural Communities

Iowa Congressmen spearhead effort to keep Neighborhood Stabilization Program for rural America

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Leonard Boswell and Bruce Braley pushed back against Republican efforts to terminate the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) for rural communities by introducing an amendment on H.R. 861, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program Termination Act.

Rep. Braley introduced the motion to recommit amendment which would keep alive the NSP program that gives funds to local governments and organizations to purchase and renovate foreclosed properties for resale in rural communities. Both Congressmen spoke in support of the MTR on the House floor.

“Today’s amendment says ‘Enough!’ and stands up for Iowa towns that have nothing left to give and that cannot afford to lose this valuable program,” said Rep. Boswell. “Time and time again, Republicans have gone to bat for Wall Street, big oil, and companies that outsource Americans jobs instead of fighting for America’s workers, especially in rural communities. By rewarding outsourcing, Republicans have devastated rural towns like Newton, Iowa, which lost 2,500 jobs when Maytag closed shop and moved to Mexico. We cannot continue to leave rural America behind, and maintaining this foreclosure program which helps these communities to maintain and grow their populations is critical in this effort.”

“This amendment is about giving our small towns and rural communities a chance,” said Rep. Braley. “It’s about giving a mom from a small town the chance to raise her kids in that same town. And it’s about making a difference on Main Streets all over Iowa and all over America.”

Seven million families have lost their homes nationwide, and another 3 million foreclosures are expected in 2012. Foreclosed properties often fall into disrepair, affecting property values for the neighborhood and community. The NSP is critical to rural communities that often lack the resources for community redevelopment and are already struggling to maintain populations.

You need to signin or signup to post a comment.