In my many years of service, it is not often I have been able to bring someone like EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to town, sit her down at a table, and let area residents express concerns, ask questions, and get answers. I was pleased to be able to do so for my constituents recently. We began the day meeting in Oak Grove with farmers and others from Saline, Ray, and Lafayette Counties. Our goal was to open a dialogue that, in my opinion, is sorely needed.
For example, many producers joining us told us they are worried about overburdening regulations. And there were several questions regarding fuel containment, run off, and dust. This is certainly not a new frustration. What was new was the opportunity to talk with one another directly. Administrator McCarthy discussed exact numbers regarding the fuel containment question, and encouraged conversation about the economic issues, stewardship of land, and challenges brought about by weather events.
Several area farmers told me the perception they left with, was that Administrator McCarthy wants to work with the agricultural community. My hope in putting this meeting and these visits together is to begin to put an end to the days of distrust and finger pointing. The EPA Administrator told the group that she wants to be active in meeting, talking, and interacting with the community so she can better understand specific issues and both groups can begin working together.
I am so proud of Missouri's Fifth District. This effort is truly on the forefront of this new and very positive working relationship with the EPA. I know there is a long way to go. I know there are still many conflicts, disagreements, and challenges ahead of us. But we have much to gain if we can make the exchange of ideas here work. And we stand to become a model of civility, open communication, and progress for the rest of the country.