Tag Archives: EPA

Holt says he’s unfairly targeted by EPA

(Note: This is a response from Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) to the Environmental Protection Agency proposing penalties totaling $177,000 for pollution by his hog farming operation in Weakley County. Previous post HERE.)
News release from Rep. Andy Holt/em>
DRESDEN, Tenn., August 31, 2015– Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) says he is the leading voice against the EPA in the State House. Because of his opposition, the EPA now has him and his family farm in their cross-hairs.

“It’s clear what’s going on here,” said Holt. “In an attempt to stand for Tennessee’s farmers and small businesses, I have sponsored multiple pieces of legislation and led many requests to the State Attorney General to fight back against President Obama’s EPA. We saw President Obama’s IRS being used to target conservative groups, and now the EPA is being used in the same manner. This is one of the main reasons why I wanted to come to Nashville and serve in the state legislature. I wanted to keep farm families in Tennessee from having to endure the financially & emotionally crushing experience of dealing with an out of control regulatory agency; little did I know that this fight would become so personal.”
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Holt laughs off Democrat’s call for resignation

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini on Friday called on Republican state Rep. Andy Holt to resign over alleged environmental violations at his northwestern Tennessee hog farm.

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking up to $177,500 in fines against Holt for discharging a total of more than 860,000 gallons of waste water from lagoons on the farm without the proper permits.

“This kind of blatant disregard for the rules disqualify him for being an effective legislator and he needs to step aside so that his constituents can have an effective and accountable voice at the Capitol,” Mancini said. (Note: The full statement is posted HERE.)

In a telephone interview, Holt laughed off Mancini’s suggestion, saying that he plans to keep his seat in the Legislature and remain an outspoken critic of the EPA and President Barack Obama.

“I imagine they would like me to quit,” said Holt, dismissing the Mancini’s press release as “propaganda.”
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EPA seeks $177K in pollution penalties from Rep. Andy Holt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A state lawmaker is facing up to $177,500 in fines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for discharging waste from his northwestern Tennessee hog farm without a permit.

WTVF-TV in Nashville (http://bit.ly/1LyT4kq ) first reported Thursday that the EPA has filed the complaint against state Rep. Andy Holt, a Dresden Republican and vice chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. According to the filing, Holt’s farm discharged a total of more than 860,000 gallons from lagoons on the farm raising nearly 1,500 swine without proper authorization.

Holt, who has been a vocal critic of the EPA, told WTVF that he “loves a good fight,” but that he has also been in discussions about a settlement. He said he self-reported the discharges to the state after heavy rainfall had caused the lagoons to overflow.

State records have showed that Holt ran his farm without a permit for nearly three years when he was finally ordered to turn in required permitting paperwork in 2012. While Holt submitted incomplete papers in 2012 and 2013, the state let him keep operating.

Holt said he ceased operations on his hog farm around December 2014.
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Legislators ask AG to file another lawsuit against EPA

While 63 state legislators urged state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to join a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over new federal water pollution rules, just 19 have now signed a letter last week urging him to join a lawsuit against new EPA air pollution rules.

A Democrat-oriented group, meanwhile, has been established within the state to promote approval of the air pollution regulations.

Slatery followed the 63 legislators’ advice on the “Waters of the United States” rules — a coalition of business organizations sent a similar letter — and filed the requested lawsuit. He has not responded to the new request from 19 legislators.

Two Democrats joined the water pollution request letter. Only 19 Republicans — including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey — signed the air pollution lawsuit request letter.

“The entry of Tennessee into the lawsuit regarding the overreaching, nonscientific based EPA rules regarding the waterways of the U.S. was correct and necessary,” said the latter letter. “It was the right thing to do to push back against a political agenda driven by an out-of-control EPA.

“Equally necessary is our need to join in a suit opposing the new rules against the emission of carbon dioxide. If these new rules weren’t so potentially devastating to the cost of producing the coal-fired generation of electricity, they would be laughable. Carbon dioxide is produced by respiration, not combustion. It is the essential element in the photosynthesis cycle, which results in oxygen and food.”

“As Tennesseans who rely on the accessibility of affordable, dependable electricity, we cannot allow a runaway federal agency to destroy the economic development of our state,” the letter says. “As Americans who have a responsibility to our future and the economic sustainability of our way of life, we must stand in opposition to these agenda-driven new rules.”
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Heeding legislator advice, AG joins lawsuit against EPA

(Note: In separate letters, a group of 63 state legislators and a coalition of business organizations had urged the AG to join the lawsuit. Previous posts HERE and HERE.)

News release from Tennessee Attorney General’s Office:
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced the state of Tennessee has joined the states of Ohio and Michigan in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The lawsuit asks the court to strike down a new rule, known as the “waters of the United States” rule, that unlawfully expands the federal government’s regulatory authority over local bodies of water, lands, and farms.

Under the Clean Water Act, Congress established federal regulatory control over “navigable waters,” defined by that statute as “waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.” However, the rules initiated by the U.S. Corps and EPA no longer limit their authority to navigable waters and adjoining waters or wetlands. Instead, federal authority would include nearly every conceivable water tributary in the country including those that in no way constitute navigable, potentially navigable, or interstate waters – even in various instances reaching land that is typically dry.

“This rule would allow the federal government to claim authority over areas clearly left to the supervision and care of the states,” said Attorney General Slatery. “There is little doubt that this rule would negatively impact the citizens of Tennessee, subjecting homeowners, farmers, and businesses to costly regulations that in many cases lack basic common sense.”

This overly-broad definition of “waters of the United States” could be used by the federal government to penalize landowners improperly. To comply with regulations, property owners would be required to obtain costly permits not necessary under the current structure.

The states are asking the court to vacate the rule, enjoin the defendants from seeking to claim jurisdiction under the rule, and remand the matter so the agencies can propose new rules which are consistent with the U.S. Constitution and the Clean Water Act.

The case is filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Business groups urge AG to sue EPA, too

Last week, 63 state legislators signed a letter calling on Tennessee’s attorney general to sue the Environmental Protection Agency. (Previous post HERE.) A group of business organizations did so today.

News release distributed by coalition members
NASHVILLE, July 14, 2015 – A united coalition of Tennessee business groups is urging the state of Tennessee to protect its citizens from significant federal overreach that will greatly damage the state’s economy and to defend the state’s sovereignty over its waters.

Yesterday, the groups delivered a letter asking Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery to join 28 other Attorneys General on multiple lawsuits against the unlawful, destructive “Waters of the U.S.” rule, set to take effect Aug. 28, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers. The coalition is asking Slatery to seek an order declaring the rule unlawful and prohibiting its implementation.

The business groups include the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry, National Federation of Independent Business, Tennessee Road Builders Association, Home Builders Association of Tennessee, Associated Builders & Contractors, Associated General Contractors of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Mining Association. Yesterday, NFIB, the U.S. Chamber and other members of the coalition filed suit against the federal agencies to stop the rule’s implementation.
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Alexander criticizes EPA rules as unfair to TN and nuclear power

Michael Collins reports on U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s lecture to Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, on the Obama administration’s preference for wind and solar energy over nuclear power. As a result, the senator thinks Tennessee isn’t getting the pollution-reduction credit it’s due.

Alexander took McCarthy to task last week because the Obama administration is treating nuclear power differently — and in his view, a bit unfairly — than wind and solar energy in its proposed rules to cut carbon emissions.

“Sixty percent of the country’s carbon-free electricity, emission-free electricity, comes from nuclear power,” Alexander told McCarthy during a budget hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment. “Wind produces 13 percent. Solar produces 1 percent.

“If you’re really serious about climate change, if you’re really serious about clean air, then why would you disadvantage nuclear power and treat wind and solar better?”

Alexander, who has called for the construction of more nuclear plants, is upset that Tennessee will have to make a 38.9 percent cut in carbon emissions under the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan — but won’t get credit for meeting emissions standards through the new Watts Bar nuclear reactor near Spring City, Tenn.

…Tennessee is doing “a terrific job of making agreements with the EPA, cleaning up the coal plants, building nuclear plants, having hydro plants,” Alexander said, yet it is “being penalized because you’re preferring wind and solar — which produce little — over nuclear, which produces a lot of what we want.”

“It’s the energy equivalent of going to war in sailboats when the nuclear navy is available,” Alexander said, pulling out a line that he uses often to describe the inconsistency.

“I like the analogy,” McCarthy said, smiling.

She told Alexander the EPA was aware of the discrepancy.

“We are really looking at that,” she said.

Norris wants TN to join push for subjecting fed regulations to congressional approval

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee Republican senator has joined lawmakers in other states who have filed legislation that seeks to curtail federal regulation.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville discussed the resolution on Tuesday during a special joint committee meeting on the effect of Environmental Protection Agency regulations in Tennessee.

The measure urges Congress to propose the “Regulation Freedom Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. (Note: It’s SJR2; for the text, click HERE.)

Under the resolution, whenever one-quarter of the members of the U.S. House or Senate oppose a proposed federal regulation, it will require a majority vote of the House and Senate to adopt that regulation.

Norris, who is also chairman of the national Council of State Governments, said a number of other states have filed similar legislation. He didn’t know the exact number, but said about 150 state lawmakers support the proposal.

“The resolution is designed to build momentum in each of the states so that folks in Congress will … see that we’re serious, and that if they don’t act there is enough horse power to take action on our own, as states integral to the federal system,” Norris said.

Most of Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Government Operations Committee focused on the Obama administration’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The EPA is giving customized targets to each state, then leaving it up to those states to develop plans to meet their targets. Some states will be allowed to emit more and others less, leading to an overall, nationwide reduction of 30 percent.
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Alexander, Corker Break GOP Ranks on Confirming EPA Nominee

Both of Tennessee’s senators broke with their party to approve the President’s choice for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, reports WPLN.
The bulk of the Senate’s Republicans worked to block Gina McCarthy at every stop along the nomination process, including an attempted filibuster. Only six GOP Senators voted in her favor.
While he deviated from the party’s efforts, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander cited the GOP as the reason why he voted for McCarthy. In a statement, Alexander pointed out that she has worked for five Republican governors and likely has better conservative credentials than anyone else President Obama would be likely to appoint.
…Tennessee’s other Senator, Bob Corker, was heavily involved in efforts to broker a deal with Democrats, heading off their use of the so-called “nuclear option” to ensure approval of the President’s nominees.
After striking that deal, Corker voted for Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
He and Alexander also helped Democrats ensure a vote on the nominee to the Labor Department by blocking any Republican chance at a filibuster. However, they did go on to vote against Thomas Perez’s confirmation, along with every other Republican.

EPA Rejects Appeals, Finds Shelby, Knox and Blount Counties Violating Air Quality Standards

Rejecting appeals by state officials, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that three Memphis-area counties, as well as three others in East Tennessee, violate federal air-quality standards for ozone pollution, reports the Commercial Appeal.
The decision, issued late Tuesday, means that Shelby, Crittenden (in Arkansas) and part of DeSoto county (in Mississipp) will remain classified as “non-attainment” for ozone standards – a designation that officials say makes it more difficult to attract industry. Anderson, Blount and Knox counties also retain the designation.
Tennessee and Mississippi had filed petitions appealing EPA’s initial decision earlier this year classifying the counties as non-attainment. The appeals cited data showing improvement in local air quality, particularly during a three-year period ending in 2011 during which all Shelby County air monitors met federal ozone standards.
State and local officials had sought to escape the non-attainment classification because of its potentially chilling effect on economic development. New or expanding industries generally are held to stricter pollution-control requirements in non-attainment areas.

And this from the AP:
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation commissioner Bob Martineau said Wednesday that the federal agency chose the “most burdensome of several options” in dealing with air pollution in the counties.
“It’s important to note that while EPA’s decision will have long-term negative economic impacts for Tennessee, this decision does nothing to improve air quality,” Martineau said.