House Holds Subcommittee Hearing on Newhouse-Costa Proposed Legislation

November 9, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – The Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing this morning to examine a Discussion Draft of the Farm Regulatory Certainty Act. The proposal is for bipartisan legislation lead by Congressmen Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4) and Jim Costa (D-CA-16) that would amend the citizen suit provision of the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) with respect to agricultural operations. The Newhouse/Costa Discussion Draft of the Farm Regulatory Certainty Act aims to protect farmers, who are trying to do the right thing and comply with applicable requirements, from citizen lawsuits if the state or Environmental Protection Agency is already actively working with the agricultural operation through a civil, criminal, or administrative action to address identified problems. 

“This legislation is straightforward and limited in scope to the citizen suit provisions under RCRA. Simply put, this legislation covers only the agricultural activities that are already exempt under EPA’s RCRA regulations,” said Rep. Newhouse, who is sponsoring the bill. “I firmly believe farmers have and must continue to lead the charge on good stewardship and conservation. The discussion draft before you today seeks to protect farmers who are trying to do the right thing with state or federal agencies to address nutrient management issues.”

“Farmers, ranchers, and dairymen know better than anyone just how much they depend on the land for their livelihoods, and they have always been some of our best environmental stewards,” said Rep. Jim Costa, a Democratic cosponsor of the bill. “My home state of California produces more food and fiber than any other state, all while complying with some of the most rigorous environmental regulations in the world. Farmers acting in good faith to improve their environmental practices should not be targeted by lawsuits while they are actively working to meet regulations. This commonsense legislation would go a long way to both improve the environment and allow our San Joaquin Valley to continue to put food on dinner tables throughout the nation.”

A background memo, legislative text, witness testimony and an archived webcast can be found online HERE.