Toomey, Ernst blast EPA for agri-business overreach

MARK MARONEY/Sun-Gazette U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, left, and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. stopped by the Waltz Dairy Farm near Jersey Shore Thursday during a campaign stop.

“They’re overstepping their bounds.”

That’s what Brian Waltz, a dairy farmer at 4897 Quenshukeny Road in Anthony Township said Thursday under the cover of a barn roof during a campaign stop by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, and visiting Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst at Waltz’s farm that he co-operates with his brother, Loren.

The farmer said he was approached by Toomey’s staff, and he believed the regulations followed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were burdening family farmers, especially when they’re told what to do with their water.

“I’m for a clean Chesapeake Bay,” Waltz said, adding many homeowners might not realize how much fertilizer they are getting into the Susquehanna River.

“They also are finding traces of birth control in the bay,” Waltz said, adding it’s not just nutrients from agriculture businesses contributing to the nitrogen and phosphorus levels.

“I am tired of them pushing us around,” he said of the regulatory agencies, which he said go too far.

“I think he’s right,” said Toomey. “The EPA clearly has overstated its legal authority, the courts have said so and what we’ve got to do in Congress is forbid them from going ahead with a rule that they don’t have the legal authority to implement, and a rule that would be very harmful to agriculture all across the country and very much in Pennsylvania.”

“It is a clear case of the EPA exceeding its legal authority,” Toomey said to a gathering of supporters inside the barn that a “whole new invention of Waters of the U.S., an application of the Clean Water Act is harmful to agriculture businesses in Pennsylvania and in Iowa.

“Basically, they are saying if the water is outdoors they get to regulate it,” Toomey said. “A statute on the books gives the EPA the authority to regulate navigable waterways,” the senator seeking reelection on Nov. 8 said.

“I’m not a lawyer, but I am reasonably proficient in the English language,” he said to snickering in the barn. “You probably ought to be able to float a canoe on it but, no, their attitude is if there’s a puddle on the farm, they have the authority to tell you want you may or may not do with it. How did this happen in the United States of America? What happened to property rights and freedom of people to live on and manage their own property?”

“It is very harmful to our agricultural activities, and they don’t have the legal authority to do it and I am going to fight them to prevent that rule from being implemented.”

Toomey and Ernst frequently took aim at Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kathleen McGinty. She last served as Chief of Staff to Gov. Tom Wolf, and is a former state and federal environmental policy official who served as an environmental adviser to Vice President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton. Later, she served as secretary of the state DEP under Gov. Ed Rendell.

Toomey promised to restore government to its limited functions it is supposed to have and make sure it’s the Legislature that is held accountable.

“Who do you fire, someone at the EPA?” he asked.

Toomey said he supports legislation that states that before any regulator or federal agency can impose a new law or rule, it must be approved by both houses in Congress or it does not go forward.

“He really understands our farmers’ needs,” Ernst said. “We have a number of departments in Washington, D.C., which think they know better than our farmers and ranchers, but this group is some of the best conservationists out there.”