Chairman Lucas, Ranking Member Peterson and Members of this committee, thank you for inviting me to testify.  I’m pleased to be here today.

I have great respect for the oversight role of Congress and believe that this ongoing dialogue is central to the commitment I have made to the American people to conduct EPA’s business transparently and with accountability.

I also believe an important part of that commitment is to dispel certain myths about EPA’s work and its impact on agriculture.  These mischaracterizations are more than simple distractions; they prevent real dialogue to address our greatest problems.  And so, today, I would like to spend a few minutes addressing some of them directly.

Let me begin, though, with one simple fact that I proudly embrace: farmers and ranchers are an essential part of our economy.  They give us food, fiber, and fuel.  The innovators in American agriculture deserve great credit for the significant steps they’ve taken to protect the environment while feeding millions of people.

With that recognition in mind, my direction to EPA has been to establish a consistent dialogue with the agriculture community, which is crucial to our work.

This is why I would like to take a moment today to address some of the mischaracterizations that have been, at times, unaddressed, or that need to be addressed again. As I’m sure you would agree, Mr. Chairman, facts matter and we all have a responsibility to ensure that the American people have facts and the truth in front of them, particularly when fictions are pushed by special interests with an investment in the outcome.

Let me give you five examples:

One is the notion that EPA intends to regulate the emissions from cows – what is commonly referred to as a “Cow Tax.”  This myth was started in 2008 by a lobbyist and –quickly de-bunked by the non-partisan, independent group – it still lives on.  The truth is - EPA is proposing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a responsible, careful manner and we have even exempted agricultural sources from regulation.

Another mischaracterization is the claim that EPA is attempting to expand regulation of dust from farms. We have no plans to do so, but let me be clear, the Clean Air Act passed by Congress mandates that the Agency routinely review the science of various pollutants, including Particulate Matter, which is directly responsible for heart attacks and premature deaths.  EPA’s independent science panel is currently reviewing that science, and at my direction EPA staff is conducting meetings to engage with and listen to farmers and ranchers well before we even propose any rule.