Kansas Corn files as intervenor in Mississippi River Basin lawsuit
The Kansas Corn Growers Association joined several other states and the National Corn Growers Association filing as intervenors in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups claiming EPA is not adequately regulating nutrients in the basin. Kansas Corn Growers Association Executive Director Jere White said EPA is correct in working within the frameworks established by individual states to improve nutrient management.
"While we are often on the other side of EPA, what we are saying is that EPA is actually trying to do the right thing when it comes to nutrient management. They are working with the individual states on nutrient management issues. The environmental groups want a one-size-fits-all solution, but even EPA says that isn't the best approach."
A 2011 memo from EPA Office of Water Chief Nancy Stoner placed a strong emphasis on working with states to achieve near-term reductions in nutrient loadings. Stoner's memo states, "Where states are willing to step forward, we can most effectively encourage progress through on-the-ground technical assistance and dialogue with state officials and stakeholders, coupled with cooperative efforts with agencies like USDA with expertise and financial resources to spur improvements in best practices by agriculture and other important sectors."
Kansas, for example, has a comprehensive, narrative approach to nutrient management that works well for the state.
"Our state's regulators have done a good job looking at the factors in our state and coming up with a common sense program to control our nutrient loads. It wouldn't make sense for EPA to assign the same numeric standards to Kansas as it would to other states," White said. "Our growers and municipalities would suffer great costs to meet the regulatory standards, without necessarily improving the way we handle nutrients in our state."
In the letter submitted in filing as an intervenor in the case, the Kansas Corn Growers Association stated: "Any court order requiring EPA to issue new numeric standards and TMDLs would directly affect the livelihood and productive commercial capabilities of Kansas Corn Growers Association members by increasing the costs associated with developing and implementing nutrient management plans. Nutrient management is already an expensive part of the operations of a farm. The costs associated with these plans, including man-hours, hiring of engineers and other experts, and implementation of the plans themselves would be expected to increase substantially if plaintiffs were successful in this suit."