Richard Schok - Family Owned Business in Fairbanks, Alaska
Mr. President, I’d like to thank you for the invitation to speak and bring much-needed attention to the reform to the rulemaking process used by the regulatory agencies.
I operate a family-owned business in Fairbanks, Alaska. We purchased some land for our business about 20 years ago so we could move operations out of town to the new facility and expand our facilities. We’ve spent the better part of 10 years and over $300,000 fighting with the regulatory agencies over the arbitrary and capricious nature of the Army Corps of Engineers wetland designation and their use of the Alaska supplement versus the 1987 congressionally-mandated Wetlands Manual.
This is effort is also — this effort does not include the time and energy put forth by the Pacific Legal Foundation on our behalf. I’d like to thank those folks as well.
The last straw for us is when we lost our appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court when they held that the agencies can make the regulations they want and require without congressional approval or oversight.
I’m hopeful that the changes made today — with this executive order, other land owners will not be negatively impacted as we have. Thank you again for this opportunity.
Andy Johnson - Stock Pond on Private Property
Well, thank you for having me, today, and my wife Morgan and my son, Roaman. I work as welder in Wyoming, and about five years ago, when I applied for a stock pond permit for my private property, I had no idea that the EPA would come knocking at my door and threaten me and my family — civilly, criminally, and a fine of $37,500 per day. The fines were up to $16 million when Pacific Legal Foundation stepped in and sued the EPA on my behalf, and my family.
And, at that point, the EPA changed their attitude; we were able to come to an agreement. We won our case, but unlike a lot of other middle class Americans, that’s not the case. They — we could have never fought. The litigation was way, way too expensive. So I’d just like to thank the President today for signing this executive order, which will hold the EPA and other government agencies more responsible for their actions. Thank you.
Kevin Lunny - Drakes Bay oyster farm
My name is Kevin Lunny. I’m a third-generation cattle rancher at the Point Reyes National Seashore in California.
About several years ago, we also were the owners of the Drakes Bay oyster farm — a sustainable family business where we produced nearly half of all the oysters in the state of California.
In 2014, the National Park Service launched a National Environmental Policy Act process that costs millions of dollars and lasted over eight years. And the National Park Service forced our oyster farm out of business. And if that wasn’t enough for our family and our community, today the rest of agriculture, which includes about another 24 ranching family farm businesses within the National Seashore, are facing the exact same process.
Our fear is that that process could ultimately be facing — and those families may be facing what the oyster farm faced. And so I’m here, Mr. President, thanking you for calling this meeting together so we can have this discussion. We urge you to continue your good work in following these policies and making sure these federal policies are managed in a way that family farmers and ranchers like us can actually benefit and survive these procedures and — so they’re not just for federal agencies that have pre-decided what they want before the process has begun and for professional litigants that abuse the process.
Thank you, Mr. President.