Washington Congressman Doc Hastings is retiring at the end of his current term, but not quietly. He's issued another broadside blast against what he considers abuse of power by federal agencies such as the EPA.
Hastings is vowing to go out swinging against a recent EPA decision which can restrict some farming on land near salmon streams in Washington, Oregon and California. The environmental agency has agreed to restore temporary buffer zones for spraying several commonly used pesticides in a court-sponsored settlement with the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides. But Hastings promptly blasted the plan as another example of what he called "closed door settlements" - not sound science - driving policy decisions.
He called it another example of the Obama administration punishing job creators. It sets - his words here - a terrible and potentially sweeping precedent that could impact thousands more acres of farmland in central Washington and across the nation. The agreement will prohibit farmers from spraying five common pesticides on the ground within 60 feet of a salmon stream, or aerial spraying within 300 feet.
Federal biologists have found that the broad-spectrum poisons can harm salmon even at very low levels. But Hastings accused the EPA of shoving these new regulations down the throats of Pacific Northwest growers without any certainty that the pesticides - he called them vital crop protection tools - even have an impact on endangered salmon.
The executive director of the anti-pesticides group, however, noted that some fruit growers in the Columbia basin have voluntarily implemented even wider buffer zones to protect salmon.