Monday, June 20, 2016

Interior Appropriations Bill addresses EPA-funded billboards attacking agriculture

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, recently applauded the Senate Appropriations Committee for advancing the Fiscal Year 2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill which contains language he sought to halt the misuse of Environmental Protection Agency federal grant funding that supported an advocacy and public relations campaign with the sole purpose of denigrating agriculture. At issue was an advocacy campaign, funded in part by a $20.5 million EPA grant, by the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission in Washington state. The campaign included billboards and a website attacking agriculture and urging state lawmakers to increase regulation over the agricultural industry. The use of federal funds in this instance is not only inappropriate, but may be in violation of federal government lobbying restrictions. The bill directs EPA to update its federal grant guidelines to ensure accountability: “within 90 days of enactment, the agency is directed to update its grant policies, training and guidelines to ensure federal funds are not used in this manner, including an update of the mechanism by which the agency tracks the use of its grants, and to provide the committee with a copy of its updated grant policies, training and guidelines.” The bill also contains other provisions important to farmers, ranchers and rural America supported by Chairman Roberts to block costly and burdensome regulations such as EPA’s Waters of the United States final rule and attempts by the Fish and Wildlife Service to reassess the listing status of the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act...more

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