GOP rep: EPA decision ‘punishes’ farmers

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) vowed to fight a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to restrict some farming on land near salmon streams.

“The Obama administration today chose to shove these new regulations down the throats of Pacific Northwest growers while they go back to the drawing board to determine if these vital crop protection tools even have an impact on endangered salmon,” Hastings said Thursday.

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The EPA released a settlement agreement that would impose buffer zones for crop protection tools around any body of water with salmon. Hastings accused the administration of using “sue and settle” tactics. 

Environmental groups sued the EPA for failure to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on whether pesticides and herbicides used by farmers would harm endangered salmon species. The courts sided with the environmentalists, and the NMFS determined that 112 million acres in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California could no longer be used for farming.

But Republicans have challenged the science used by the NMFS. During the last Congress, the House Agriculture Committee passed legislation that would prohibit the EPA from enforcing these biological opinions.

“This is yet another example of closed-door settlements — and not sound science — driving policy decisions,” Hastings said. “I fully intend to look further into the Obama administration’s decision today, which punishes our job creators and sets a terrible and potentially sweeping precedent that could impact thousands more acres of farmland in Central Washington and across the nation.”