The Rural America Solutions Group was formed to protect and promote long-term jobs and economic opportunities in rural communities and address the unique challenges of rural life. On Wednesday several lawmakers, including the group's three co-chairs, hosted a forum to examine how new and proposed EPA regulations are stifling job creation and economic growth in rural America.
According to group Co-Chair Congressman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., EPA consistently demonstrates how vastly disconnected it is from the men and women who feed this nation.
"The agency doesn't seem to realize that rural America's economy is dependent on agriculture and a thriving agriculture sector breeds a healthy rural economy," Lucas said. "EPA's 'In Your Face' approach to more government regulation has increased the cost of doing business for America's farmers and ranchers. If EPA is allowed to continue down this path the only choice for many farmers and ranchers will be to stop farming altogether."
Lucas accused EPA of often ignoring science, common sense and seemingly caring little about how the agency's actions impact farmers and ranchers. Congressman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., another co-chair of the Rural America Solutions Group says the problem is failing to look beyond paper to the real world.
"Policies on the desk at EPA's headquarters may look great on paper but could have terrible and unnecessary consequences when implemented in the real world," Hastings said. "For this reason it is time for EPA to ease its iron grip on rural America and begin listening to those who would be impacted. They may find that what works in Washington, D.C., could come at an enormous economic and social costs to hard-working rural families."
Hastings says the top-down policies of the EPA will only kill long-term jobs and future economic development. Group co-chair Sam Graves, R-Mo., agrees. He says EPA regulations can drown job creation out with their impact on small businesses.
"Small businesses are the engines of job creation in America; they create 7 out of every 10 private sector jobs in recent years," Graves said. "Now more than ever the American people need the type of jobs that are created by small businesses. Unfortunately more government regulation could devastate small businesses nationwide by raising the cost of doing business and forcing employers to cut salaries and slash hiring. In rural communities more job killing regulations would be nothing short of catastrophic."
Graves said the members of the Rural America Solutions Group believe it's possible to find ways to protect the environment and secure the nation's energy independence without punishing those who run small businesses and cultivate the lands that fuel our communities and feed our families.