SDFU President Questions State Lawsuits Against EPA, Health Care Reform Bill

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South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) President Doug Sombke today questioned a pair of lawsuits initiated by South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley against the federal government.

Jackley recently agreed to involve South Dakota in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding greenhouse gas emissions, and another suit against Congress regarding the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), which is health care reform legislation which was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

In a letter to Jackley, Sombke said, “I believe taxpayers should be made aware of the cost of such litigation before the state of South Dakota enters into lawsuits of this magnitude. As our state faces massive, multi-million dollar deficits, committing to spend taxpayer dollars to fight the federal government is unwarranted and an unwise use of their money.”

The lawsuit brought by South Dakota and 14 other states against the EPA seeks to prevent the agency from imposing rules under the Clean Air Act after the federal agency’s Dec. 15 endangerment finding which stated that carbon dioxide is a threat to public health. If Congress doesn’t enact legislation regulating greenhouse gases, EPA is poised to impose rules.

“South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers agree that the EPA should not regulate greenhouse gases,” Sombke told Jackley in the letter, “the solution to the climate change issue should be implemented legislatively.”

Rather than spending tax payer dollars to fight the federal government, Sombke encouraged Jackley to join South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers in urging Congress to pass meaningful legislation that curbs greenhouse gas pollution while at the same time pays dividends to South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers for being part of the solution. Under a cap and trade system of regulating greenhouse gases, farmers and ranchers would receive financial offsets to sequester carbon in the soil and implement other conservation practices that will reduce carbon in the air.

“By working together with our elected leaders we can find real solutions to the climate change problem, rather than spending state taxpayer dollars to fight the federal government,” Sombke said.

Sombke also urged Jackely to suspend the state’s lawsuit which seeks to challenge the health care reform bill that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. Sombke asked Jackley to support rural America by “helping the state’s small businesses and self-employed farmers and ranchers get more access to health care, rather than spending their tax dollars to fight against the ability to get quality and affordable health services.”

Sombke says these lawsuits are similar to the attempt by many of South Dakota’s school districts to sue the state regarding the school funding formula.

 “I equate these proposed lawsuits to the litigation brought by South Dakota’s school districts regarding the state school funding formula,” Sombke wrote. “Some have fought against the school districts’ attempt to sue the state for more funding, arguing they should not be allowed to file suit against the state government, the entity from which their funding comes. I believe a lawsuit brought by the state of South Dakota against the EPA is similar. The state of South Dakota is proposing lawsuits against the federal government, while receiving federal funding to balance its budget.”

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