During a nomination hearing for Jeffrey Prieto – President Obama’s nominee to be the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s General Counsel – Agri-Pulse reports Senate Ag Chair Pat Roberts said the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule would harm U.S. agriculture. Roberts also told Prieto he believes EPA broke federal law when it influenced the outcome of the public comment period on the rule. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Congress in March that more than 87-percent of the 1-million public comments received supported the WOTUS rule – but Roberts thinks she was bending the truth – as the Committee heard from farmers and ranchers across the U.S. who said WOTUS was the wrong approach and rule for rural America and small communities.
Roberts says it seems EPA orchestrated a political grassroots lobbying campaign with environmental groups to manipulate the process and disregard legitimate concerns from rural America. Roberts warned Prieto to make sure USDA follows the law because the committee has oversight and the responsibility and will be watching.