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2015-07-30

Smith raps on EPA, immigration & border security

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Members of the Ranchers & Landowners Association of Texas sponsored a morning of political discourse on Saturday, July 18. Over 60 concerned citizens filed into the Silver Sage Great Room to hear legislative reports from Congressman Lamar Smith and Texas State Representative Andrew Murr.
During his introduction of Smith, County Judge Richard Evans noted, "It's nice to introduce someone who you believe in what they're doing. Congressman Smith is conservative by policy, not sound bite."
While acknowledging he had indeed graduated from Yale University, Smith offered a redeeming caveat, saying, "I was the only freshman who subscribed to 'Field and Stream' magazine."
Smith then immediately launched into one of his favorite topics, excoriating the Environmental Protection Agency, which he described as "my least favorite agency." In response to what he considers unjustifiable EPA regulations stemming from flawed data, Smith sponsored the Secret Science Reform Act "in the name of transparency and honest government." HR 1030 is now ready to go the floor of the United States Senate.
If enacted, the Secret Science Reform Act would prohibit the EPA from "proposing, finalizing or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible."
During a recent hearing of the House's Science, Space and Technology Committee - of which Smith serves as chairman - Gina McCarthy, the EPA's top administrator, admitted that her agency's stringent regulations and emission controls would only eliminate less than 1 percent of global carbon emissions and reduce sea level rise by only 1/100th of an inch - the thickness of three sheets of paper.
"When faced with the EPA's own data, Ms. McCarthy danced around it and finally said, 'It doesn't matter if there is no impact on the environment, we just need to show some action.' Bottom line is the EPA was more control of the daily lives of this country's citizens," Smith said.
And, nothing points this out more clearly, he felt, than the government's new Waters of the United States rule, which falls under the Clean Water Act. This rule was designed to amend the definition of "waters of the US" and expand the range of waters that fall under federal jurisdiction.
"This is one of the most damaging rules to come out of the EPA," Smith said. "It gives the federal government control of water that accumulates even as the result of a drizzle. Additionally, it allows the EPA jurisdiction over 90 percent of water west of the Mississippi."
Fortunately, Smith added, recent "public embarrassments" that had resulted from disclosures about the extent of the Waters of the US rule have given the EPA pause - for the time being at least.
Turning to the topic of immigration, Smith said, "The agricultural industry in Texas would benefit from a guest worker program, but that piece of legislation didn't pass the House Floor." As he explained, "A number of people in Congress oppose piecemeal immigration reform." According to Smith, if politicians continue to take an "all or nothing" approach, they will get nothing. Incredulously, he noted, "Even the representative of California's Silicon Valley opposed the high-tech immigration bill." This legislation would have increased H-1B visas, enabling high-tech companies to bring workers to the US to fill job openings for engineers and computer software experts, among other professions, where employers indicate there's a shortage of American workers.
Regarding border security, according to Smith, during a recent hearing on illegal immigration, the committee posed a question: "What is the Administration's justification for releasing 30,000 illegal aliens who have been convicted of crimes, many for murder and rape? Why are they not being deported?" Smith continued, "For the second year in a row, Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security, couldn't provide an answer."
Smith added, "Neither I nor border patrol agents believe this is the most secure the border has ever been." A study released by the bi-partisan Government Accountability Office revealed that only 15 percent of the border with Mexico is secure.
After briefly discussing other topics, including the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, Jade Helm 15, soaring corporate taxes, a call for President Barack Obama's impeachment and a lack of parity in the recent deal with Iran, Smith said, "I would like to end this on a positive note."
He seized upon the recent amazing photos of Pluto that were 10 years in the making. According to that impeccable source, Wikipedia, scientists have downgraded the former ninth planet to just "a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond Neptune."
However, undeterred, Smith said, "I'm old school. To me, Pluto's still a planet."