On Thursday, November 9th, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment held a hearing on HR848, the “Farm Regulatory Certainty Act.” This bill seeks to deny federal protection to rural communities harmed by toxic waste from agricultural operations. The bill would remove the ability for communities to take legal action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when their water is contaminated. 

Waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) has endangered human health in Washington State, contaminating groundwater and drinking water in communities that rely on private wells. There is currently no requirement for state or federal monitoring of private well water quality, even if residents lack the resources to do the monitoring themselves. In some cases RCRA is the only tool available for communities to hold agricultural polluters accountable.

One of the biggest concerns from agricultural pollution is contamination of water resources with nitrates, which cannot be smelled or tasted in the water supply but are associated with “blue baby syndrome” and higher levels of miscarriage, birth defects, and certain kinds of cancer. Boiling water does not purify it but actually increases nitrate levels.

Sixty percent of Washington’s population relies on groundwater for their drinking water supply. The rights of rural communities to protect their health and environment are critical and must be preserved. While none of our Washington State representatives sit on this committee, they still need to hear from you that this is an important issue. Please send your comment opposing this unacceptable attack. 

You can also call the committee chair and ranking members on the subcommittee. Their information and talking points are below.

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Read the full comments Soundkeeper signed on to, submitted by our partners at Earthjustice. 

Instructions for Calls

Representative John Shimkus (202) 225-5271
Representative Paul Tonko (202) 225-5076
Representative Greg Walden (202) 225-6730
Representative Frank Pallone (202) 225-4671


My name is __________ and I am calling because Representative _______ serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and will be hearing draft legislation that impacts me.

I am calling to voice my opposition to the discussion draft of the “Farm Regulatory Certainty Act.” This proposal is an unacceptable attack on access to the courts for rural communities harmed by toxic waste.

Every resident of our country has an equal right to environmental protections, but this proposal excludes rural communities from those protections and threatens their access to clean, safe drinking water. Citizen suit provisions, including those in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) allow individuals across the political and economic spectrum to defend their rights, ensure government accountability, and prevent abuse.

Agricultural waste, particularly from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, is a substantial source of pollution across the country. This proposal will harm rural Americans, who are disproportionately reliant on well water and most likely to live near large agricultural facilities. In Washington State, sixty percent of the population relies on groundwater for drinking and areas of the state with large concentrations of CAFOs have been found to have high levels of toxic nitrates in drinking water.

I urge you to oppose the Farm Regulatory Certainty Act, as well as similar bills that weaken protection and endanger communities’ access to safe water.