DIRTY WATER LOBBY DIRTY TRICKS!
STIR MEMBERS AND FRIENDS,
THE DIRTY WATER LOBBY ONCE AGAIN IS ATTEMPTING TO PROTECT WATER POLLUTERS INCLUDING THE POULTRY INDUSTRY.
IF SUCCESSFUL, IT COULD IMPACT OKLAHOMA'S LAWSUIT AGAINST ARKANSAS POULTRY COMPANIES.
THE FARM BUREAU FEDERATION AND THE POULTRY INDUSTRY ARE AMONG THE APPARENT INSTIGATORS.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
CONTACT SENATOR TOM COBURN AND YOUR CONGRESSMAN. LET THEM KNOW YOU WANT CLEAN, SAFE WATER. TELL THEM YOU DO NOT WANT WATER POLLUTED BY ANIMAL WASTE. REMIND THEM THAT CLEAN WATER AND SCENIC RIVERS ARE VITAL TO EASTERN OKLAHOMA'S ECONOMY AND THAT MANY COMMUNITIES GET THEIR DRINKING WATER FROM THE ILLINOIS RIVER AND ENKILLER LAKE.
CONTACT: U.S. SENATOR TOM COBURN:
FAX 202 224-6008
EMAIL SENATOR COBURN
172 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington D.C. 20510
CONTACT: CONGRESSMAN DAN BOREN:
FAX 202 225-3038
EMAIL REP. BOREN
216 Cannon House Office Bldg.
Washington D.C. 20525
E&E DAILY Wednesday, October 26, 2005
CAFO rider overcomes first hurdle in ag spending bill debate
Allison A. Freeman, E&E Daily reporter
A rider that would exempt agriculture operations from pollution reporting laws survived its first vote yesterday, as Senate conferees included the measure in its version of the $100.4 billion agriculture spending bill.
House conferees have not yet voted on the rider, punting it, along with several other provisions, for further debate behind closed doors. If the provision makes it into the final conference report, it could be a point of controversy on the Senate floor. Senate Democrats vowed yesterday to call a point of order against the whole bill if the farm pollution language
The conference committee is expected to approve the entire conference report as early as today, after members negotiate on some outstanding provisions.
Conferees have agreed on about $100.4 billion for fiscal year 2006 spending, a number closer to the House-passed level. The Senate bill was $258 million higher than the compromise.
One of the programs that would take a cut in that disparity is the Conservation Reserve Program, the Agriculture Department's new "green payments" program that pays producers to make environmental improvements on working farmland.
The program, a pet project of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), would come in at $245 million, compared to $331 million in the Senate measure. Harkin said he planned to offer an amendment to boost that number, though he admitted it would not likely pass.
In remarks after yesterday's markup, Harkin said he would still like to offer the amendment, though he questioned whether the panel would convene in public again to hammer out more compromises. As Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas), the conference chairman, recessed the panel for further discussion among staff and members, Democrats objected to Republicans meeting in private to come to their own agreements.
"You go into some dark room and make choices in the absence of the minority," said Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.).
Committee staff said the panel would try to wrap up the measure this week, and may convene again for another public meeting. "I will try to offer it if we do," Harkin said after the markup. "But do you actually think we are going to meet again?"
Manure rider squeaks through Senate side
Yesterday's debate included approval of a Senate amendment that says agricultural operations should not be subject to two environmental reporting laws.
Senators voted 9-8 on party lines in favor of the rider, after heated debate. Sens. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) proposed the amendment, which exempts farms from provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation Liability Act (CERCLA) and the
Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).
The language states that manure should not be included in the meaning of "hazardous substance," "pollutant" or "contaminant" under CERCLA and EPCRA.
The rider also specifies that the language should not affect the ongoing air quality agreement between agricultural producers and U.S. EPA.
As agriculture operations have increasingly turned to raising animals in confined situations or using concentrated animal waste facilities, environmentalists and some community activist groups have balked that their emissions need to be reported and regulated. Environmental groups have taken some farms to court over the provisions, with some rulings in their favor.
Brownback said the rider would mitigate some of those ongoing cases, including suits in Texas and Oklahoma. And Craig argued the amendment would not change existing law but clarify that they were not written with farming operations in mind.
"It clarifies that Congress never intended to regulate animal waste under CERCLA and EPCRA," Craig said.
Democrats spoke out against the provision and said it could bring the entire spending measure to a halt on the Senate floor. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) warned that she would call for a point of order against the bill on the Senate floor, arguing the amendment is not germane to the substance of the bill. Other Democrats said they would join her.
"This is a big deal, it could bring down the whole bill," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the minority whip. "This is a contentious issue and should be saved for another day."
Those criticizing the language said farms should be subject to environmental reporting laws, given the amount of pollution they can generate. "Livestock is the largest ammonia producer nationwide," Feinstein said. "I don't want to bore you with what each cow produces a day, but it is amazing. And when you have a lot of cows, it can be a big problem."
House conferees must accept the amendment for inclusion in the conference report, but they did not take it up yesterday. In what seemed to be an acknowledgment that the rider could be a bomb for the whole bill, Bonilla was not enthusiastic to vote on the provision, but said his side would take a look at it and consider it more.
"Thanks a lot," Bonilla said, after Senate Agriculture Appropriations Chairman Bob Bennett (R-Utah) passed the provision from his half of the conference to the House members.
(section edited out on horse slaughter)
Reporter Dan Berman contributed to this report.