tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN February 23, 2016 9:00am-10:01am EST
sturds. you talk about the epa doesn't intend to regulate every ditch. we look at actual implementation of the rule. the district exemption appears to leave some room. here's my question. is the ditch exemption automatically given if a business, farmer or local government believes its exempt or do they have to prove it's exempt. >> the way in which the law works is that if there is a question that you're going to be destroying or absolute pollutin might be a water. >> from the epa? >> know the landowner their activity would be doing that. >> on their private land. >> on their private land or elsewhere then that question is raised by that landowner and they ask the appropriate questions. that usually and often goes to usda or others in field visits way through. but it's not, we're not changing
the dynamic of how the rule has been -- how the guidance has end -- >> let's take worse case scenario. worse case scenario some farmer ends up, somebody somehow says he's not in compliance and he muse do x, y and z. with the waters of the u.s. rule the way it is now and this exemption could a farmer potentially face any kind of legal action if he was strongly on the side that he is not out of compliance and somebody from an epa comes in and says you are. if this goes all the way to the end, could somebody like a farmer be penalized and basically have to defend himself on a question of water on his own land? >> there have been enforcement cases. there have not bean great deen l in the way people work together to get answers and get permits done. i'll tell you we work very hard
on this rule to make the clarity you need so that you as a farmer can be assured that if someone asks that question you know the answer. >> i know. in all honesty i think you missed the mark. i ask this rule be repealed and be allowed to dome the table. thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. abraham, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to survey the bipartisan support you see our farmers, ranchers, foresters, agricultural farmers, they are their own best stuewards of ther property. they won't do anything to harm their livelihood but more importantly nothing to harm their children and family. to mr. allston scott's reference to the price of cotton i won't ask you the price of glowing planting season of planting of cotton or corn but it lends to the question, i'm fearful that
the epa has a bureaucracy wants to literally drive the car but doesn't know how to start the car. when you don't know the basic g i times and when you apply pesticide and how important those growing times are, it begs the question of, you know, who should know these answers. and my answer to myself is you should know. we talked about pesticides so i'll go to my question. it was respect to your agency's role in approving pesticide. does epa examine the health and safety of a herbicide under the act any differently if it's proposed use is tied to a genetically engineered plant versus it's not and does the agency meet its registration obligation equally in both cases. my question is it common for
products tied to ge plants to be at your agency several years while registration dates are renegotiated multiple times? >> my understanding is that we have had a great deal of success in eliminating extensions of time overall for all of our program. actually quite remarkably. we're keeping mostly to those windows. are there additional challenges with genetically engineered products? if there are that's where the science comes in and we explore it. they are not treated differently than looking at how we always look at pesticides which is by the science trying to stick with the legal timelines and windows that we have to make our decisions. >> i'll follow up with a question. the president has stressed the importance and the value of transparency in epa's actions to ensure the use of sound sooin and reliable data. epa is increasingly reliant on
models data, looking at the occurrences and unlikely scenarios to essentially overrule volumes of actual hard science, laboratory and monitoring data historically relied on around the world for decades. why was this fundamental change in policy not put out for public notice and comment so that the stakeholder would have an opportunity to comment on this transition to such a heavily reliance on just the worse case scenario presumption, models study? >> i'm not aware that there's been any change in policy direction, sir, so i'm happy to look at the specific decision that you're referring to. >> i look forward to that answer because i'm under the understanding that there's been quite a transition away from the hard science and looking -- >> i'm happy to answer that. >> the last question. let's keep dealing with this raw data, this hard science. i've heard about serious matters
regarding epa policies based on human research data that may not be reliable. for years epa has relied on hundreds of quality studies, evaluating all aspects, human suscibility to pesticides. epa now relies primarily on epidemiology studies in which the epa has never i'm told again stein raw data to determine if these studies are accurate. columbia university refused to provide the raw data to the epa even though epa partially funded the study. epa is likely to rely on information based on raw data that cannot be reviewed
>> are you refusing to disclose the data and if you have any information why are you not disclosing that information for the public to review and i'll look forward to your answers to that question. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> mir. newhouse. five minutes. >> thank you. let me start by calling your attention to a letter i sent to you last month in regard to a company called oakwood -- excuse me -- omac wood products. as you know we've had the last two years record setting catastrophic fires, wildfires. >> yes. >> had a tremendously negative impact on our communities. this omac wood products company is one of the largest employers
in this small community. i think over 185 people work at the mill. $60 million impact to the community. unfortunately they've announced recently that they plan to shut down at the end of february. people in the city of omac are working very, very hard to find someone to come in and take over the mill. one of the issues, though, is that they don't have an operating permit. two years ago epa promised a rewrite of the permit that would more accurately reflect the operations of the plant. and i can tell you without that permit they are having a very difficult time finding anybody interested in re-opening the plant. so if you could look into that i would very much appreciate that. >> i would be happy to do that. >> i have a copy of the letter. it is submitted for the record. a couple of questions, administrator. section 303 of the clean water act clearly gives the states the authority to develop water
quality standards and then submit those plans to you to confirm that they comply with the c.w. a. >> that's correct. >> i don't think section 303 gives epa power, though, to establish those criteria for the state and last year epa indicated it would reject the state of washington's water quality standards on the basis of two things. number one, it doesn't account for consumption of 175 grams of fish per day. >> ah-ha. >> which i might add is the equivalent of eating 38 cans of tuna a month. and number two, for people who actually consume that much fish it doesn't account for the cans risk level of ten to the minus six or one in one million. i'm concerned that your agency's proposed rule is significantly more stringent than required to protect human health. it's inconsistent with existing policy and could cost my state
billions of dollars for compliance. could you discuss for me real briefly, we have a short amount of time on how epa arrived at these levels and explain why your agency is seeking to have imposed standards that far exceed your own water quality guidelines for states? >> well, i think i am very familiar with this issue in terms of work that's going on between the state of washington and epa, where the state of washington has recently proposed water quality standards, we have been starting a process ourselves. we're happy to defer to the state on their water quality standards should those come out in a way that we think does two things, is safe for human health as well as protect the tribal treaty rights which we're obligated to protect under treaty law. >> let me follow up then real quickly. as for your proposed cancer risk level ten minus six you would
need to reduce some of the agents on the epa's toxic pollutant list less than naturally occurring levels. it means that the river as it flows naturally would not meet the levels. 2013 study conducted by washington state industries, counties and municipalities found teen most advanced technology available and with billions of dollars in upgraded resources few facilities would be able to meet those standards. so my question is, where does epa think it dearrivderives the meet these standards and number two in no way grounded in sound science? >> well, we can certainly have this conversation as i know we're running out of time. but i will assure you that the region working on this, our region ten is in close contact with washington and stakeholders
in the business community there to understand how we can come to a conclusion either through the state effort or our own to be reasonable, rationale, make sure we have standards that can be achieved and in no way take away the flexibility that states have in terms of how they achieve it. >> i appreciate that answer. i do have more questions but i'll have to submit them for the record. again, thank you for being here. >> mr. kelly for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you, administrator for being here. my first question is three years ago mississippi farmers and bee keepers created a stewardship program to enhance cooperation and communication between bee keepers and pesticide applicators. this increased goodwill between these two groups but increased possib polinator help as well. epa is undermining those relationships while both our
farmer and bee keepers thought they addressed many of their issues, farmers in my state are losing access to key products and will be unable to protect their crops from pests threatening their livelihood. additionally bee keepers have concerns and economic hit to the farmers would mean they are unable to host bees on their farms. please spain to me what epa is doing to ensure my constituents will have the time prove swren products and new effective products available to meet their needs? >> well one of the things wish deshould really ta -- we should really talk about working through the polinator strategy, one of the key things that needed to to be done is an agreement an understanding between bee keepers and their own farmers about how to protect those pollinators while at the same time allowing those crops to be properly managed. if there's a disconnect there i would really love to understand
that because it was one of the highlights that said the federal government doesn't need to get involved in this as long as that communication is working and happening. and so if we have missed the boat i would really love to be able to work with you on it to figure out how we might turn that around. >> i will. i will make sure we get you that information. they started before you asked them to and now you feel -- >> this is the conversation we wanted to have happen. >> now second and i'm just going to -- i don't know, i was going joke about our accents because, you know, i didn't know if we need an interpreter or not because we speak a little different english. >> i can understand you. >> but after the hearing today, you know, i'm not sure that we're not different in more ways than just our accent and i think one of the smartest terms i heard was regulatory humility. i've not seen that displayed. i think if you look back i think you have 32 states who have
filed lawsuits. you have both the house and senate who the majority of members regardless of which party think it's not being implemented correctly. i think you have court that are saying that it's not being implemented correctly. what i see is the epa sticking a flag in and saying we're right and the rest of america is wrong. we are right and we will defend -- and i've heard several times you say we defend this action. i don't agree with what the courts said on that. i don't agree with gao we fwliek. i don't agree with this. we'll defend our science. we'll do this. that's not humility. that's the opposite of that. that's arrogance. i'm smarter than you. i don't care how many there are of you and how many different background you come from but i'm smarter than you and i'm right and you're wrong. and i think a member asked you earlier, repeal it. do away with it. not that it's a bad idea but the rule that we have now, i can
tell you that the majority of america does not believe it protects them and believe it's punitive and not helpful. we need clean water. nobody understands that more than me. one of the crucial resource we have in america is clean drinking water. is water to water our crops. we all want the same thing but the rule that we have now does not accomplish that. but we're so entrenched that we have to have this rule and i think if you would repeal the rules, step back, get with congress, get with farmers, get with environmentalists, get a whole group of people in a room and say what do i want to achieve and what's the most effective way to do that and let's all take our pride out of it. we're all prideful regardless of what we are. but to get back to the humility and get the smart people in the room. gate group or a commission and come out with something that works. i can tell you that businesses,
farmers, legislators, courts, everyone right now knows this rule we have is not the right rule. let's quit sticking a flag in the ground and defending something that doesn't work and let's come up with something that does protect our clean drinking water and mr. chairman i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. >> thank you, mr. chairman and welcome administrator mccarthy. i want to go back further than wotus and talk about the epa's chesapeake bay scheme because that really is the precursor to what's going on nationwide with wotus. i think you would agree it's both significant and unique for a variety of reasons. epa documents mentioned many specifics of the bay tmbl were novel in comparison to past and
this blueprint could serve as a template for other water sheds throughout the nation. further the concerns voiced by agriculture, forestry and home building industries in addition to some local communities and to the tmbl's legal challenges speak to the enormous impact that epa's actions have had and will continue to have in the bay region. given this, shouldn't the epa have conducted an analysis? >> it's my understanding we have been in that process -- >> since 2009 and you're telecom the halfway assessment point and you have implemented this process but never done a cost benefit analysis to determine whether the cost to all of these parties and the taxpayers of my district and all the other districts in the six states
isn't greater than the benefits to the bay? >> well, sir, i think what we tried to do was to allow states the flexibility to choose their own paths forward and because of that it would have been extraordinarily difficult to provide any certainty about what that cost might be. >> that's actually not what happened if i may because the states have for the past quarter century done just that. in fact that's what the clean water act provides for. it isis the federal government can set the standard and the states get to write the plan and implement the plan to meet the standard and a lot of progress was made over those 25 years. sce sedimentation has been reduced. nitrogen by 40% before this tmbl even began. yet the epa said that's not good enough and went ahead with putting pressure on the states,
threatening the states that if they didn't change the way they did it, that there would be costs and other consequences to them. so, inggdnz fact, up until marc 2009, your agency had assured us that no tmbl would be implemented before there was an economic analysis. so how much has your tmbl cost the affected states and on average how much has the tmbl cost the average farmer or producer in the chesapeake bay watershed? >> i can't answer that question. >> i know you can't because you never did the homework. you never did the work necessary to prove that that was worthwhile undertaking. the state of virginia estimated that the cost just to virginia alone would be more than $16 billion. but the epa never came back and said well here is a calculation of the added benefits, benefits beyond what was already taking place. the chesapeake bay is getting
healthier, has been getting healthier for many, many year, that's a good thing, we all support that. but when you take the law into your own hands and do it contrary to what the clean water act provides you get lawsuits rather than progress. your agency has been implementing the tmbl for several years and i under that next year you'll be releasing the chesapeake bay tmbl mid-point assessment. therefore it would seem that you would have had ample time to conduct such an analysis of the cost and the benefits of it. why did you not conduct an economic analysis friar implementation or at least at some point in the last few years? >> sir, we have -- we are in the midst of that process. i do not know when it will be completed. my understanding is that it is being worked on by the agency. >> you may well be well fast mid-point assessment before you ever determine whether this should have been done in the first place and, therefore, all of the costs that have gone
d not justified, then the epa should not have issued regulations without having that done first. does the epa not view the financial impact of the rules it inflicts upon america's farmers and homeowners and taxpayers and small communities that dot the shenandoah valley in my district do, you not view that financial impact to be of importance? >> one of the reasons why we're doing the tmbl the way we are is to allow not just us to consider the most cost effective pass forward but allow the communities themselves. >> my time has expired but i really have to express my ongoing dismay that this agency for all these many years that we have been talking about this have received just that, talk and no information that would justify this major impact on these six states which have quite frankly been the guinea
pigs for the rest of the country which is facing similar assault under wotus. >> gentleman's time has expired. >> i represent from michigan, and neighboring genesee county and would like to talk to you about the flint water situation and as of yesterday there were some concerns raised by a family in flint and you may have heard these concerns but their point was melissa mays as reported in the detroit free press we saw more information on google than the epa. we asked them for help and got nothing. i guess what i would like to do is you've been to flint. you were there, i believe, on february 2nd. and really put the focus of blame on the state. and the governor has apologized.
people have lost their jobs in the state over this matter. the epa region five administrator susan headman resigned. was that over the flint water situation? >> her explanation to me was that because she knew she had already become a focus of attention and she thought the wren tire focus should be on what we do for people of flint. it was a courageous act on her part. >> do you still maintain as you did when you came to flint that epa did everything right? >> i did not maintain that. what i said was that a situation like flint should never have happened. i explained what i thought were inadequacies of the state oversight in primecy. they are the ones that have authority under the law and ones with the primary obligation. but i in no way said that epa had done some kind of thorough
analysis of what else quo have or should have done. >> well let's just analyze it for a minute here because my understanding is the epa was aware as of february of last year that corrosion controls that would have prevented lead from leaching from the pipes was not being implemented, there were serious concerns about, you know, raised levels of lead. in fact, above the enforcement action level of the epa, epa was aware of that and did nothing. we're almost a year later and epa did nothing. can you explain to me why that happened? >> well, i would say that i believe that in april of last year was when the state actually told us and corrected a misimpression they gave us that corrosion control wasn't happening. epa via dangerously from that point forward recommended to the state that they take action to
get corrosion control up and running. were there other things that we could have done or should have done? that is the focus of our attention at this point. but we did oversee this and recommend the appropriate steps for the state to take >> you're saying that was in april. >> i believe so. >> my understanding is on february 25th, a resident from flint, miss walter whose had four children who have lead poisoning. >> right. >> contacted a manager at your epa midwest water division informing him that flint snopt tre -- is not treating water with standard water controls and led to lead pipes laechg lead. also your employee learned that the taps were being pre-flushed for several minutes prior to sampling when they did water tests. so that's february 25th, the epa has been notified that the
corrosion controls are not being implementled and that the testing process is flawed. now my understanding under the safe drinking water act, you have the authority for action authorize when there's imminent and substantial endangerment to health. so my question is if you knew this in february, why was there no action taken for almost a year? >> well, my understanding in february was that we did ask the state of michigan whether or not corrosion control was happening. they gave us an indication that it was. we relied on that. but at the same time we did work specifically to test miss walters home and it is not unusual nor is it an indication of corrosion control happening or not to have a high lead level in a particular home that can occur for a variety of reasons
including a disruption in the street. so one house does not dictate whether corrosion control was happening and effective. but in no way did our employee ignore this individual's circumstance. >> believe me i'm not saying de. i'm saying the upper levels of the epa did and that's where -- because miguel actually emailed people, colleagues at the epa relaying his concerns about this faulty testing mechanism and also in follow up tests when they actually used the right testing mechanism, there were lead levels of nearly 400 parts per billion, 27 times epa's threshold. that's march 3rd. again almost a year ago. and still nothing happened. now i want to go again to june 24th, again when mr. del toro wrote to the head of epa's drinking water division calling flint's lack of corrosion
controls a major concern. again, no action from the epa. finally, i'm told, that rather than taking action, a legal opinion was requested on the authority of the epa to step in. i mean i got to believe that anyone who looks at the documentation of the law would be able to give the opinion that the epa has authority in this matter. wouldn't you agree with that. >> when you say no action was taken by epa, i think you minimize the communication that epa had that we normally with states that are very clear that corrosion control should have been done from day one and it needed to continue. it was the state of michigan that was challenging whether or not additional testing was necessary to make that determination. >> and people have lost their jobs over that. now, the question is, if you knew that it wasn't happening,
why did you not take action? >> i can explain to you my interaction with that but it's a much longer conversation than that. we clearly did everything we could to get the state of michigan to do what they were supposed to do. when i became aware and engaged that is when you saw an enforcement action taken. >> and my understanding is the communications between the epa region 5 regarding this matter have been requested. the governor has released all of his communications. when can we expect to see the documentation on the communications from region 5 -- >> we have numerous foia requests. >> this is pretty important. >> there's nothing actually more important right now than getting that city clean water and you'll see a large federal presence including epa who is responsible to get that done. >> you're well over.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i would like to know when you would have those documents public, i guess is the question. >> okay. i'll be happy to take that back. we have a number of requests. i don't know what the schedule. >> gentleman's time has expired. mr. davis, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. administrator mccarthy thanks fork here. did your staff prepare you a question for me about individual septic systems? >> no. >> they did not. i believe last time in a hearing i said they should be fired if they don't it. this would be my fourth time. do you believe individual septic systems are included in the language that says sewage facility systems should be ekempt. >> i'm not familiar with the issue. >> i will remind you at a joint
hearing between the house and senate i asked the same question and you response was we don't regulate individual septic systems. do you. i still have yet have my question answered. if they would be considered under the sewage treatment system under the exists wotus rule. i'll give you guys another chance. but i'm disappointed your staff once again did not have a prepared answer on this. knowing that i was going to ask for the fourth time. that just makes me as a member of congress feel as though this is more of a check the box issue for the epa and those who work with you. i'm sorry they did not prepare you for that. i as a former staffer would not
put you in a situation like that again. this is very disappointing to us and i am disappointed in those sitting behind you. i do want to ask you, i know you mentioned earlier in the hearing you're trying ensure there's a better working relationship between the ag sector and the epa. there's a lot of folks who don't think that the epa accounts for the economic consequences of some of your regulatory proposals. i also asked you at the last event, our last hearing we had whether or not you have worked with the usda to appoint a member of agriculture to epa science advisory board. that was my language in the farm bill that it offered two years ago. what is the status of getting that person appointed? >> on the standing committee? >> yes. >> we actually as recently as last week met with usda so we can finalize that standing committee. we one how important it is and
we have been working hard to make sure we respect people's interest in getting the right applicant pool and we'll be working with usda on those choice. >> i appreciate that. it's been two years since the passage of the farm bill. this is something that i asked you about before. i just don't think the epa's actions and, again, i don't expect you to take away from every hearing our concerns, but i do expect the folks who are sitting behind you to follow up. my intent was to get somebody from agriculture to work with you so that maybe when you came here today you would have had to talk about how would you have had network to bridge that relationship, to bridge that gap with our agricultural community. it's very disappointing. and you can wonder why our ag sector when it's taken two years
for a simple request to appoint somebody from ag to a state advisory board why it hasn't been done why they don't trust epa. very disappointing on my end. i would hope that by the next time we meet and i know we will, that we could see much more progress on this. two years has been long enough. agriculture deserves that attention that you mentioned you want to give it. you would improve it a lot by accomplishing this task and getting something in ag on that science advisory committee. with that, i want to make my chairman very happy by yielding back the remainder of my time. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate it. ma'am, thank you for being here. first i thank you for your agency's work and continued efforts in combatting citrus greening in my state of florida. experts believe over 70% of our
groves are infected and we've seen a dramatic decrease in production. this season's harvest is 69 million boxes and that's the smallest crop we've had in 50 years. that's down from the 240 million boxes. can you speak to what your agency is doing then sfwhags i know you guys are doing good work on that. is there anything you need from us to help facilitate that? >> sir, we're taking this situation extraordinarily seriously. as you indicate it is. and i know we met with florida senate and house delegates, delegations to talk about what we've already done on recent registrations to give more tools, bring more tools to the table built we're also in the middle of looking at an emergency exemption request, we'll look at the potential to authorize use of the antibiotics and we're work with both cdc and fda which is the process for that and we're going try to get that done as soon as possible.
>> if we can help facilitate that are 0 or extrapolate that from other crops, our state and those people that love oranges would being a greatly appreciative. >> be theep call on you. thank you. >> i'm concern my farmers are not get access to the tools they need provide food for the world. without the piece sides and other scientific advances 40% of global crop production could be lost because of the effects of weed, pests and disease and i understand that the average research and development costs for just one pesticide crop protection product to reach the market is roughly $256 million and the average time frame for a pesticide to be approved by the epa to reach the market is about ten years. and i understand we have to do our due diligence to make sure a product is safe but we've had products that were approved by the epa and then pulled after this kind of effort. and what are your thoughts on
that? >> well, we certainly should look at what the full range of effort has been and what the average is but i want to look at more recent data and see if we've been able to do a much better job at advancing that. it is clear we want to do our job to make sure that it's safe and being effectively applied. >> absolutely. >> but i don't think that the timelines you've indicated are the timelines that the agency operates under at this point, sir. if there's more work to be done we should do it. >> then i just want to -- i'm concerned about how long it takes for the epa to approve new products for the farmers or growing communities and i'm also concerned that the epa is drifting away from its goal set by congress which includes basing decisions based on sound science rather than on input from outside groups trying to limit the use of safe option for farmers.
some of the nonprofit groups will pose the use of pesticides no matter what their value protein tenting u.s. farmer and addressing world hunger, no matter how much safe they are. those interest groups should know crop protection can reduce malnutrition for millions of children and adults by safely protecting cops and safely increasing yields and keep costs in the u.s. lower. will you commit to me today that as the law requires, you will base your decisions in the epa on sound science and only on sound science? >> yes. on sound science and the law. >> we see this, you know, with some of the pesticides that the outside groups are saying oh, this is bad -- >> sir i want to indicate relative to your first question one of the most important things is to get new chemicals on the market that are much less
harmful and much more effective. zoo you're absolutely right on both those questions and their linkages. >> i would like for to you show strong leadership, your agency has so much power to put a pause on the wotus as many pep have talked about in here with 26 states suing the federal government and the epa until we can reach a better solution. if you can just back off. i would agree with mr. kelly things he brought up. and then the standard of testing methodology that we've seen in the lead situation in michigan, what i've seen you got to run the water or don't run the water. there's not a standard that everybody is using. if you don't have a standard you get skewed results. i hope you address that and i'm out of town. >> we have grave concerns and we will. >> gentleman's time has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you administrator mccarthy for being here today and of
course -- >> i'm so sorry. i don't know how i lost you. >> those lights are difficult. anyway, i've learned a lot here today at the hearing. i hope you and your staff are taking good notes and learning a little bit about some of the thing that we have to deal with. i'm a new member of congress. i'm from georgia. of course you heard the concerns about our farmers and others. but what i have learned is that there's an obvious disconnect between the american people and your agency. and your ability to carry out the laws that are established by the united states congress. i guess my question is, what have you learned from this hearing today and what do you plan on doing about it? >> i think that i have learned that we have significant, not just differences of opinion but an understanding of what the agency is doing. our intent in doing that. and that we have a lot of work
to do to have a trusting relationship to both be able to talk to one another, but to listen to those concerns and effectively get them into our policies and regulations. >> would you do this for -- we're the people's house, and we report to the people. what i would like to see is a plan by your agency to do just what you said you plan to the. in other words, if you would lay out a strategy, somehow, that we're going to get on the same page and how we're going to do that. because we have differences in science pup have an important job. no question. we have issues. we brought those issues before you today. i mean flint out in colorado with -- there are mistakes that have been made. i will say just from my observation as a long term member of the business community that part of the that strategy needs to be prioritization.
in other words, you're doing things affecting the economy and affecting our farmer's ability to operate their farm but then you're letting these other things slip through the cracks sponsorship i think you need reprioritize your systems and i would like to see that in your strategy. the other thing, the last question that i had is relative to the economic impact. if you like say wotus. again we talked about where did that rule come from and you need to understand that, over half of our farmers are retiring. and have been since 2rj3q and only 56% is there a second generation that's coming along. so, obviously -- you feel our frustration and our frustration is their frustration. because -- i mean we start talking about taking people's property away from them because they have retained water so that
they can sustain their farm. that's a serious, serious issue. you got millions of comments on the thing and continue with the rule. so you can certainly understand that the concern there. but from an economic standpoint, i mean is your agency at all connected to the fact that this economy is growing at less than 2% and has been for the last seven years, and that, you know, what responsibility does your agency have for that lackluster growth? have you actually -- have you actually gotten together and talked about and is the growing of the economy important to you? >> always, yes. >> i mean these are jobs we're talking about. we're talking about every american deserves the opportunity at a good job. we got some say 90 million people who are not working today. and one of your strategies that i would recommend is that you go back and look and see what your
agency could do to grow this economy. and how you can grow the economy. and any further comments as far as what you're going to move forward -- i got 44 seconds remaining. >> no, sir. i certainly will take to heart what you suggest. i do think we try very hard to understand how we can meet our mission but do it in a way that actually advances the economy moving forward. but i have no question that there are challenges in agriculture in that those challenges have to be part of the discussion we have when we interact with this sector. >> you realize that has to be bottom up approach. northeastward farmers thoof be included. >> yes. >> in that process. >> yes. >> i yield back. miss mccarthy we're almost there. two more questions. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
>> hello. >> welcome, miss mccarthy. >> thank you. >> last september the epa published an interim recommendation for environmental standards and labels for news in federal procurement. one of the recommendations for lumber excludes several credible standards that's widely used in the united states, including the sustainable forest initiative and the american tree farmer standards and we understand this recommendation was made without consultation with the department of agriculture. not only have a lot of expertise in forest management and forest project but who also publicly stated that the sustainable forest initiative and american tree farmer system standards can be used to verify sustainability of forest products. furthermore supposedly based on a determination by the department of energy that has no formal analysis behind it.
so can you explain the basis of this recommendation for federal procurement? >> well, sir, i do know that it is the related to the federal government wanting to make sure that their purchasing reflected the full range of interest of the public. >> we already -- the forest service or department of agriculture has already determined that, you know, this is a sustainable thing. what other factor your taking into account? >> we're utilizing a certification program that was up and running that we thought had credibility because of its history but we've recently been asked to consider open that open up to other certifications. >> what certification program are you using? >> it's third-party certification. >> which is that. these are the two most widely used certification process used in the country. >> we're certainly opening up the discussion so that we can
expand that. we have no interest in taking away the opportunity to use legitimate and very well tested third-party certification. >> why wouldn't you consult with the department of agriculture prior to making this kind of rule. >> i'm not sure that wasn't done, sir. but i can check. it's a forestry issue we should be consulting appropriately with all the right federal partners on this. >> when is that going be fixed seventh >> say again. >> you said you're going to look into it.
issued called the mitigating impacts on natural resources from development and encouraging related private investments. so i don't expect you to know this on the spot here but, again, mitigating impacts. it's a fairly new presidential memorandum. appears to be -- carry the weight of an executive order and seems like a really -- quite a significant departure from current policy, looking like it's going to be going back and reassess every possible impact a manmade activity might have. so do you know, do you plan to
follow this policy, and can you walk me through any letter later on how you plan to -- how do you plan? are you aware of that -- >> i have not been made familiar with the details so i'll have to get back to you how my agency would respond. we have very little ownership of federal lands. >> okay. well, it might have an effect on all federal land so we're still catching up too. i'd appreciate if your office can clarify to that in a letter offline here. on the previous questions i had on clean water act, regarding plowing, this is very important to several of my constituents have gotten in some hot water in the district up there on the 404 exempti exemption. unless it changes any waters of the united states to dry land. i'm familiar with that. along about 1985,ed ed ssod bu.
where we're not to, you know, take swamps or change waterways. things of that nature. big things. but since we do have this 404 exemption, does this regulation really truly mean what it says because that's what my growers are wondering. >> my understanding for plowing, yes. >> okay. was this regulation intended to ensure farmers that their plowing would not be regulated under the clean water act? >> that would be its intent, yes. >> okay. so might be repetitive. does it mean plowing is not regulated under the clean water act unless it actually changes waters to dryland? >> waters to dry lands? >> something deemed as waters of the united states. if it's changed there from water -- >> -- change land to water? >> water, yes. a watered land to a dry land. which is what i talked about
maybe in the swamp buster -- so you agree with that? >> yes. >> okay. >> i think. >> can farmers continue to rely on this regulation? this is the important takeaway. can they continue to rely on the regulation as interpreted under 404 and continue plowing their fields? >> yes. >> all right. thank you for your time and indulgence. >> just another couple quick ones real quick. earlier about water jurisdiction. you said biological, chemical and physical must exist to determine if the water is jurisdictional. yet the rule uses bio logical, chemical or physical. can you clarify which is which? >> it would be an or. >> all right. >> it basically means you have an ability to -- >> water -- >> -- the downstream water. >> or is a much broader
interpretation. also, i know you're tired of talking about the report on social media, but one of the things, whatever you do, however you do it, there ought to be an audit trail. there ought to be a path by which we can track back to how it happened, all those kinds of things. use of a tool like thunderclap which hides that. can you commit whatever you're going to do with social media you'll leave in place, you'll use tools or leave in place an audit trail or ability to see who did it within your organization -- >> i certainly -- i certainly know who worked on these issues internally -- >> i know that. >> gao really was concerned -- sorry. retweet was not able to be tracked back to epa. one of the things i tried to explain, although i don't agree with gao, i'm not disrespecting the decision.
we'll work with omb. it's office of management and budget that did the guidance on how you use this thunderclap. we followed it. we'll make sure we address these. >> there are other innovations coming in. there's one called kick and others that allow you anonymously do things. we don't want our federal employees -- >> the one thick yng you can bee of, it will never be me. >> let me apologize for how cold it is in this room. >> it is cold in this room. >> so apparently our system doesn't know the difference between wintertime and summertime -- i apologize to -- >> that's okay. >> we do have a number of -- we as a committee have a number of question questions. we'd appreciate a timely response. we would like a timely response to that. again, thank you for being here this morning. i know you anticipated this was
not going to be the most fun you could have on a thursday but -- >> i thought it was incredibly informative and respectful. >> you're very kind with that. but thank you for being with us. appreciate that. the record of today's hearing will remain open for ten calendar days to receive additional material and supplementary written responses. the hearing on the committee of agricultural's adjourned. thank you.
on inside it. >> since the start of this campaign, only one network has taken you on the road to the white house. from the early announcements and the policy speeches to the candidates visiting diners in iowa and new hampshire and of course the campaign rallies. after the result also of this weekend in nevada and south carolina, the republican race has now narrowed. the democratic race has now sharpened. we're going to stay in south carolina with the big democratic primary this saturday, and then we move on to the multistate primaries and caucuses in early and mid-march. this race is just getting under way. you can follow all of it here on the c-span networks, online at cspan.org and of course on c-span radio. >> veterans affair secretary ronald mcdonald will testify about president obama 2017