Rep. Issa's Friend And Funder Is Invited Back To Testify

April 21, 2011 2:26 pm ET — Brian Powell

Even though Congress is on spring break this week, House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) held a hearing on Tuesday titled "Regulatory Impediments to Job Creation: Assessing the Cumulative Impact of EPA Regulation on America's Farmers." One of the witnesses invited to testify was none other than Issa funder Tom Nassif, the CEO of the Western Growers Association. Nassif, who has donated over $20,000 to Issa's campaigns and is an admitted "personal friend" of Issa's, has now had his voice heard before Congress for the second time in a little over two months.

Nassif testified Tuesday and called for Issa's committee to investigate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

...I'd like to shine a light on the impact and consequences of lawsuits brought against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies by environmental groups that are reaping taxpayer-funded attorney's fees and resulting in a defacto rule-making process that is harmful to farming and of questionable benefit to the environment. They system is broken and Congress must fix it. [...]

Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, terms this as a "sue and settle" strategy that harms agriculture by using the courts to twist the laws against our farmers. Representative Peterson wrote of this: "EPA says they are only doing what the courts tell them to do. The fact is environmental activist groups often sue the EPA but the cases don't even reach the point of a judge's decision. Instead, there seems to be a pattern of an activist lawsuit followed by an EPA settlement, resulting in new EPA regulations to comply with the settlement. This is no way to make public policy." [...]

We respectfully request this Committee to launch a formal investigation of the EPA and the specific matters outlined in this testimony.

Having the opportunity to speak your mind before members of Congress is significant, and it can have a real effect on policy. In his first appearance before the Oversight Committee, Nassif testified that "Clean Water Act requirements, redundant pesticide permits, water quality standards ... [are] restraining our ability to invest in our businesses, our communities and to increasing the size of our workforce." Less than a month later, House Republicans introduced a bill to soften the permitting process for farmers using pesticides. Nine of the bill's co-sponsors were members of the Oversight Committee, and it passed the House on March 31.