WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure held the hearing, “Legislative Hearing on S. 2421, the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act” Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today and for allowing me to introduce one of my long-time friends, Bill Satterfield, and share my views on the bill before us. My relationship with Bill dates back many years, including to a time where Bill hosted a radio show and would invite me on as a participant. Bill joined the Delmarva Poultry Industry in 1986, and was named Executive Director in 1993. He works to advance the interests of our Delmarva poultry farmers. Agriculture is a tremendous economic driver in the state of Delaware, and while our state may be small, it leads the nation for value of products produced per acre. A big part of our agricultural success is tied to the work of our chicken farmers, who are well-represented today by Bill Satterfield.
“We have many environmental laws that I believe serve our entire nation, including our farmers, quite well. But, as I said at our full Committee hearing on agricultural issues last month, I acknowledge that sometimes environmental requirements can be complex and confusing to those who farm, especially when those rules suddenly change. This is what happened in April 2017 when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated an EPA rule from 2008. That rule had exempted all farms in the nation from reporting requirements for hazardous air emissions from animal waste under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, known as CERCLA. The rule also exempted small- and medium-sized farms from reporting under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, also known as EPCRA, but left in place reporting requirements for large farms.
“With the FARM Act, we are helping provide certainty to farmers by legislatively exempting all farms under CERCLA, as was done by EPA in its 2008 rule. One thing I worked hard on with Senators Fischer and Barrasso as we were developing this legislation is to make sure the FARM Act makes no changes to EPCRA reporting. I want to thank both of them, along with their staffs, for working with my staff and me and agreeing not to amend EPCRA in this bill.
“This is an issue that was critical for many members on the Democratic side. We have repeatedly heard concerns from state and local officials, public health experts, and other members of our communities who want information about what is in their air. This bill seeks to strike a careful balance and, as a result, it enjoys broad bipartisan support. My sincere hope is that broad support can be translated into prompt legislative action. Again, my thanks to all who’ve played a role in crafting this compromise which is before us today.”