EPA Administrator Nominee Goes Before Senate in Confirmation Hearing
WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the confirmation of Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after the departure of former administrator Lisa Jackson earlier this year. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) said it hopes that if McCarthy is confirmed, that she will work to develop a more positive working relationship with the agriculture industry.
“Whether it is releasing producers’ personal information to activist groups or trying to regulate all ponds and puddles across the U.S., EPA has not worked cooperatively with the cattle industry under the current administration,” said NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald. “We sincerely hope Ms. McCarthy, if confirmed by the Senate, would work to improve this relationship which will ultimately have a more positive impact on the environment than the current anti-agriculture attitude that is prolific within the agency.”
During the hearing, McCarthy, who is currently the head of EPA’s air office, was questioned on issues such as the Spill Prevention Control and Counter measure (SPCC) rule and whether she would commit to not creating a national database with information on agricultural operations around the country, with most of these questions asked by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), who made known her concerns about the proposed CWA expansion, an issue important to farmers and ranchers across the country and a policy priority issue for NCBA. Fischer also urged McCarthy and EPA to ensure that regulations are made on sound publicly available science subject to a thorough analysis.
“We have bridges to build with the farming community,” McCarthy said during the hearing, also saying that “I’m a meat eater myself.”
However, McCarthy would not commit to supporting the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act, which was recently introduced in the House and Senate and would lessen the burden of the SPCC rule on farms and ranches. McCarthy also could not commit to not creating a national database which would make producer information publicly available and readily searchable through EPA’s website. McDonald said these two statements by McCarthy call into question whether she truly wants to build relationships with the agricultural community, including cattle producers.