By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, April 22 – To mark Earth Day, President Obama issued a formal proclamation Friday stating that “For over 40 years, our Nation has come together on Earth Day to appreciate and raise awareness about our environment, natural heritage, and the resources upon which generations of Americans have depended.”

At a time when Congress is considering many proposals to rein in the federal EPA and roll back environmental regulations, Obama declared that “Healthy land and clean water and air are essential to the health of our communities and wildlife. Earth Day is an opportunity to renew America's commitment to preserving and protecting the state of our environment through community service and responsible stewardship. From the purity of the air we breathe and the water we drink to the condition of the land where we live, work, and play, the vitality of our natural resources has a profound influence on the well-being of our families and the strength of our economy.”

President Barack Obama. White House photo

As one of the first actions after Congress returns from its Easter recess, on Tuesday May 3 the House Agriculture Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a joint hearing titled “At Risk: American Jobs, Agriculture, Health and Species – the Costs of Federal Regulatory Dysfunction.” Among the many bills already introduced to curb federal environmental regulations, H.R. 872, the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011,” which the House passed on a bipartisan 292-130 vote March 31, would eliminate “a costly and duplicative permitting requirement for the application of pesticides.” H.R.910, the “Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011,” which the House passed on a bipartisan 255-172 vote April 7, would amend the Clean Air Act “to prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas (GHG) to address climate change.” Both bills now are up for Senate consideration.

Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and the other nine Republican senators on the committee have appealed for swift Senate passage of legislation to reverse “continued regulatory overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency.” (For details, click HERE.)

In contrast to congressional pressure for a regulatory roll-back and skepticism about climate change, Obama insisted Friday that “Today, our world faces the major global environmental challenge of a changing climate. Our entire planet must address this problem because no nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change.” He said “The United States can be a leader in reducing the dangerous pollution that causes global warming.” He called for “investing in the clean energy technologies, markets, and practices that will empower us to win the future,” saying “Every American deserves the cleanest air, the safest water, and unpolluted land.”

Obama pledged that “Federal and local programs will continue to ensure our Nation's clean air and water laws are effective, that our communities are protected from contaminated sites and other pollution, and that our children are safe from chemicals, toxins, and other environmental threats.” He called for action at all levels to ensure that “rural working lands and waters are conserved and restored.”

For more information on the White House's Earth Day initiatives, click HERE.

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