Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Just in

Presidential contenders weigh in on clean water, clean air, endangered species 

 Washington-Every four years, the American Farm Bureau Federation asks the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees to address the issues that concern farmers and ranchers the most.

We asked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump the same questions. Both candidates explained their positions on biotechnology, trade, immigration reform, regulatory reform, food safety and more.

That the candidates took the time in the throes of this very competitive election season to go into such detail in their responses says as much about the importance of these issues and the farmers and ranchers who care about them as it does about Clinton's and Trump's political platforms. The responses below, on the topic of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, are the second in a series of responses that will be released over the next week.

While AFBF cannot endorse or support a political candidate, we are providing each candidate's position to inform our members and others. Clean Water Act The Environmental Protection Agency has clear direction from both Congress and the Supreme Court on the limitations of its authority under the Clean Water Act, and yet the agency continues to push the limits or ignore them completely.

What would you do as president to ensure that the EPA acts within the bounds of the Clean Water Act? TRUMP RESPONSE: "First, I will appoint a pro-farmer Administrator of EPA. Next, I will eliminate the unconstitutional "Waters of the US" rule, and will direct the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to no longer use this unlawful rule and related guidance documents in making jurisdictional determinations. This rule is so extreme that it gives federal agencies control over creeks, small streams, and even puddles or mostly dry areas on private property. I will also ensure that these agencies respect the valid exclusions under environmental statutes for agricultural practices. To be clear, my Administration will work to ensure clean water for all Americans while also restoring the proper limits of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Unlike the Obama-Clinton team, my Administration will work cooperatively with the States-most of which have been completely ignored by EPA under the Obama Administration-to achieve shared, common-sense environmental goals." 

CLINTON RESPONSE: "The Clean Water Act is one of our most successful environmental regulations, helping fulfill the basic right of all Americans to accessing clean water. Not too long ago our rivers were literally on fire, and polluters were free to dump toxic chemicals at will. The Clean Water Act not only stemmed these environmental disasters but helped to reverse course and restore healthy swimmable and fishable waters for all Americans to enjoy. As president, Hillary will continue this legacy. She will work to ensure waters are safe and protected, will maintain the longstanding exemptions for common farming practices, and will continue pushing for clarity within the law." Clean Air Act Greenhouse gas regulations that would raise farmers' cost of production or impose a carbon tax would put American farmers and other businesses at a competitive disadvantage to farmers and businesses in other countries that would face fewer regulations while continuing to pollute the planet. How would you ensure that clean air and climate regulations are within the scope of federal agencies' statutory authority and do not hamper American productivity and competitiveness?

 TRUMP RESPONSE: "I strongly oppose the extreme, climate alarmism agenda of the Obama-Clinton years. Too often, the Obama-Clinton team imposed billions of dollars in environmental costs on American citizens without achieving real environmental benefits. In fact, the Obama EPA cut funding to the States for water infrastructure and programs that help rural communities while increasing spending on EPA bureaucrats, lawyers, and UN climate programs. As President, I will rescind the Climate Action Plan (including the Clean Power Plan) and other excessive regulations issued under the Clean Air Act that impose unjustified costs on American workers and farmers. My administration will work cooperatively with the States to achieve shared, common-sense environmental goals. Affordable energy is critical to the success of American farmers. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the Obama-Clinton climate agenda will cost the U.S. over $5 trillion. We cannot afford to allow the Obama-Clinton policies of high energy costs and overreaching regulations to continue any longer."

 CLINTON RESPONSE: "Hillary Clinton rejects the false choice between strengthening our economy and protecting our environment and climate. This is particularly true in light of the historic Paris Climate Agreement reached last December, in which all countries committed to take national action to cut their carbon pollution. As President, Hillary will go beyond the agreement made in Paris, cutting our emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. As President, Hillary will work to make the United States the clean energy superpower of the 21st century, and build off the range of pollution and efficiency standards and clean energy tax incentives that have made the United States a global leader in the battle against climate change while protecting kids' health, saving American households and businesses billions of dollars in energy costs, and creating thousands of good paying jobs. Over the past seven years , the amount of wind power in the US has grown threefold and the amount of solar power has grown 30-fold. Renewable energy is now the fastest growing source of job creation in the country. America's farm communities have played a critical role in this progress with 99% of utility-scale wind production occurring in rural areas, attracting more than $100 billion in private investment. Meanwhile, e l ec tricity prices have fallen by 10% for American families and businesses in real terms . Landmark vehicle standards under the Clean Air Act are reducing US oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels and saving the average driver $130 to $180 a year . The Renewable Fuel Standard is cutting US oil dependence and carbon pollution even more. As President, Clinton will work to build on this progress, including by launching a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to forge new federal partnerships with states, cities, and rural communities across the country that are ready to take the lead on clean energy and energy efficiency, giving them the flexibility, tools and resources they need to succeed. This includes expanding the Rural Utilities Service and other successful USDA energy programs and ensuring the federal government is a partner, not an obstacle, in getting low-cost wind and other renewable energy from rural communities to the rest of the country, and helping electric coops capture the clean energy and energy efficiency opportunities of the 21st century." Endangered Species Act Privately owned land provides habitat for the majority of our nation's endangered and threatened species. As a result, landowners often face harsh regulatory restrictions on their ability to use the land or, worse, lawsuits or enforcement actions. Meanwhile, few species have actually been recovered under the law. It's time to think about incentive-based programs that create a positive role for landowners in species recovery. The law is overdue for review and revamping. As president, how would you fix the broken Endangered Species Act, and what role would you assign America's landowners?

 TRUMP RESPONSE: "America is blessed with abundant natural resources and beautiful wildlife. Our nation has a proud tradition of conservation and stewardship. This is more true for farmers than anyone else. Farmers care more for the environment than the radical environmentalists. Regrettably, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has a poor track record of actually helping to recover animals at risk of extinction. In truth, the ESA has become a tool to block economic development, deny property rights to American landowners, and enrich activist groups and lawyers. Instead of saving endangered species, the Obama-Clinton bureaucrats are endangering American workers with disastrous choices made at the whim of extreme activist groups. As President, I will direct the Interior Department and Commerce Department to conduct a top-down review of all Obama Administration settlements, rules, and executive actions under the Endangered Species Act and other similar laws, and we will change or rescind any of those actions that are unlawful, bad for American farmers and workers, or not in the national interest. I will also work closely with Congress to improve and modernize the Endangered Species Act-a law that is now more than 30 years old-so that it is more transparent, uses the best science, incentivizes species conservation, protects private property rights, and no longer imposes needless and unwarranted costs on American landowners."

 CLINTON RESPONSE: "Hillary knows that America's ranchers and farmers are proud stewards of their lands, and that America's wildlife depend on the health of working lands to survive and thrive. That is why she will increase both the availability and accessibility of funding to incentivize voluntary private conservation. For example, Hillary will work to fully fund the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and will instruct her Secretary of Agriculture to establish a "one-stop shop" to help farmers and ranchers identify programs that can provide financial support for their conservation practices, including securing additional access for sportsmen, including hunters. Hillary also believes that we should be doing more to slow and reverse the decline of at-risk wildlife species before they reach the brink of extinction and need the protection of the Endangered Species Act. To this end, Hillary will propose nearly doubling the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program to $100 million per year. This type of support for the voluntary conservation of at-risk wildlife can help reduce the need for species to receive the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For wildlife that are listed as threatened or endangered, Hillary will direct federal agencies to take full advantage of the flexible tools available under the ESA that respect and accommodate landowner interests, including safe harbor agreements, habitat conservation agreements, and other forms of voluntary conservation measures."

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