The Senate Environment and Public Works (E&PW) Committee's hearing was designed to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget. However, it quickly escalated into a debate between committee Democrats and Republicans about the impact of federal environmental laws and regulations on the nation's employment, economic conditions, and public health. Both sides cited anecdotes and statistics frequently to support their positions on environmental issues.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified that President Obama proposed a 13 percent cut in the agency's budget for FY 2012. Obama's budget would maintain public health and protect the environment, Jackson said, while she requested continued congressional bipartisan support for funding EPA's work.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., an E&PW committee member, told Jackson that there are concerns amongst some senators that EPA and others are "trying to do things they don't have statutory authority to do." Using the regulatory approach to accomplish them "is wrong," he said.

Statements by Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and ranking Republican James Inhofe, R-Okla., reflected the starkly contrasted philosophical, political, and policy views that each party's committee members have about the scope and impact of federal environmental laws and regulations.

USA Rice Federation continues to be a leader in opposing EPA's regulatory overreach and supports vigorous oversight of EPA's current and proposed agricultural-related regulations to prevent unnecessary and costly requirements.