Mills criticizes Nolan vote on proposed EPA rule
Eighth Congressional District candidate Stewart Mills III took to the farm Friday and criticized Rep. Rick Nolan's vote on Tuesday against a measure that would limit the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Cor...
Eighth Congressional District candidate Stewart Mills III took to the farm Friday and criticized Rep. Rick Nolan's vote on Tuesday against a measure that would limit the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding water regulations.
Using the Fort Ripley area farm of Rosanne and Bruce Caughey as a backdrop, Mills said a proposed rule by EPA would treat farm ditches and ponds as navigable waters. The cost of compliance to such a rule, the Republican candidate said, would be "prohibitive and devastating to our family farms."
Mills described the EPA's proposed rule as overreach. He said at his news conference the EPA was passing laws, but later clarified that as hyperbole. He explained the agency was performing functions that Congress should be performing because Congress was more accountable to the people.
"Agencies are not responsible to the people," he said.
He accused the EPA of making up rules and acting as both judge and jury in water issues.
"The EPA should not be involved in the legislative process," Mills said.
Nolan issued a statement Friday afternoon in which he said the criticisms of about the EPA rule are not true and amount to fear mongering.
"It's unfortunate to learn that Stewart Mills doesn't care about clean water in northern Minnesota," Nolan said in the statement. "Keeping our lakes, rivers, and streams clean is critical to tourism jobs, fishing, our health, and our way of life.
"Tea Party claims against this EPA rule are outrageous, untrue, and have been disproven time and time again by groups like the League of Conservation Voters and the National Wildlife Federation. I am not afraid to stand up to the EPA when I believe it's gone too far, but this is not one of those times. Calling this an overreach is nothing but helpless fear mongering.
"Unlike my opponent, I'll always fight for what's best for the hardworking men and women of Minnesota."
A spokesman for Nolan also said the congressman's office had received expressions of support from a variety of sportsmen's and women's groups on this issue.
Mills also criticized Nolan's energy positions, noting that high energy costs have resulted in an increase in the cost of producing food. In particular he knocked Nolan's support for what Mills termed a "job-killing carbon tax."
"We need a energy policy that sustains economic growth on our family farms," Mills said.
The Caugheys' dairy operation, located about 12 miles south of Brainerd, has been in their family for five generations. The grandchildren of Bruce and Rosanne Caughey wore winter clothes and played in a nearby sandbox next to an outdoor shelter for calves during the news conference. At the conclusion of the event one of the grandchildren handed out ice cream, courtesy of a dairy association.
Sarah and Miles Kuschel, who said they raise beef cattle and children at their operation west of Pine River, also leveled criticisms at the proposed EPA rule on the water in ditches and ponds. The EPA regulations, Miles Kuschel said, would amount to more road blocks for farmers by narrowing the existing exemptions for farmers and ranchers.
The Kuschels also said because they are younger ranchers they wouldn't qualify for certain EPA exemptions because they haven't been farming long enough themselves. They would lose the exemptions, they said, even though ranch has been in their family for three generations.
In a statement released by Mills, the Kuschels expressed disappointment at Nolan's vote on the "Waters of the U.S." bill, or HR 5078. They said the bill would have limited the EPA's ability to complete this "devastating" rule and would have protected farm families from the overreach of the EPA.
Mills characterized Nolan's "no" vote on the effort to curb the EPA's authority as one of a number that were "in direct opposition to what his district needs."
The bill passed in the House. Mills said before the news conference HR 5078 was then sent to the Democratic Senate, "where bills go to die."
The EPA's proposed rules was intended to clarify which waters fall under the protection of the Clean Water Act.