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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  February 12, 2016 12:00pm-2:01pm EST

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million you can't go around congress the way you did. >> the 100 million threshold means would go to the interagency process, which we did. >> do you know howard's landscape and mac do. >> have you worked with him on this? >> yes, i did. >> do you know he won't-- why he won't give the required documents which we have been asking for cents march 15? >> i'm not familiar with what you are asking about. >> we had a hearing and this was a major rule and we have been asking and had to announce a subpoena these documents were over a year. you don't have any idea why they are ignoring our request? >> i don't know >> i don't know. >> conversations with him? >> no, sir. >> is this directive more from the white house? >> what directive are you referring to? >> the lotus ruling itself. not for congress. we voted and the senate and house. >> i explained where therom the white house? >> what directive are you referring to? >> the lotus ruling itself. not for congress. we voted and the senate and house. >> i explained where the impetus came from. >> the courts blocked this, correct? >> it is litigated in one
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district cou>> t and is now wit the sixth circuit where they are looking at whether the district cou>> t has jurisdiction but yo are absolutely right, we are now staying in terms of its implioustions no the cou>> t is are res arved. >> we have 31 states, many agricultural organizations awsuits rmainst ciou so you don't think there ought to be reason for pause? maybe we should scrap the thing and go back to the drawing board and do it right? >> we w re hear from the f. >> under the clean water act you ire restus is that a navigable water? >> the supreme f.
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and bikila the clean water rules g ur the word bitch that is in the clean water rules, not -- >> it wou so tbie anotheoneten minutes kil i will end with the fact that america is frustrated roking now withlotok governmen. ãbhat is the number-1 issue. the overreaching federal ige eies. i hope ciou wou so withd itsw a little bit, takes time to get this right.. >> the gentleman's time has expired. five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. director, as you are aware on august 5, 2015, the epa team that was investigating the contamination of the gold king mine in colorado, accidentally
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released a 3 million gallons of wastewater into the ms river, which then flowed into the san juan river, which is in new mexico, part of it and lake powell, which-- and i think that you actually estimated and i think you estimated, but there were 880,000 pounds of metal with deposits into the animus river as a result of the release. the initial plume is stated within several days, i want to alert you, you may be aware there remain very serious concerns about long-term impacts, environmentally and for public health. i am aware of those in mexico through primarily their environment department's. and the navajo nation and its president.
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they have real concerns over a proposed one year epa monitoring plan which doesn't do if anything about monitoring ground water, wildlife and doesn't take into consideration continued runoff. i hope we don't have the too since. all the sediment get moved again and i would agree the state is correct in assessing their needs to be a long-term monitoring in fact, there ought to be a plan that involves their independent review. they are familiar, they are aware which i realize is difficult, 20/20 hindsight, we all wish we had that, we all want that expertise to with you don't have these issues and accidents and information that may not be accurate or relevant to the area in which you are testing. can you talk about your
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conversations with the state of new mexico and navajo nation and whether you are entertaining or fund them or give them the same resources to assure the public health of the citizen of that state are protected? >> we are going to do just that. in a couple ways, we know a lot of those states and tribes that were impacted by this stipill he been discussing with us reimbursement, you did the job responding to that. we are looking at short-term monitoring program and long term one that doesn't just look at the area of the spill but does a much broader look at the watershed in general and how we cannot just hindu that with epa scientists that they can be gauged becausedo that with epa scientists that they can be gauged because they have
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scientific universities. we work to make sure we do monitoring that is necessary -- >> that robust partnership will bring about credibility. i can't agree with you more about that expertise which leads me to the second question i want to ask which is related to the m f 4 watershed in the rio grande, a completely separate issue but it includes 15 individual entities and jurisdictions. the middle rio grande region is one of three that were chosen to put a regional watershed approach and the only region in the west united states to participate and the problem as you look at all these water issues for clean water, related activities, you are including requirements developed for eastern climates and i don't think we are using the right expertise and i will tell you
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that everyone in these affected jurisdictions is really struggling in their relationship with you because the aspects of the permit do not make sense in arid environment and conflict with all the state water laws and many of our federal water law compacts. storm water regulations need to have flexibility to make sure local managers can suggest alternatives that make sense, are you aware that we are having these conflicts and do you see a way to have much more flexibility to meet your overall goals but we can do it correctly. >> all of our water programs by lot and intent is a partnership between the epa and the states. i did not know there were concerns that have not been resolved in these discussions and they have to be resolved. they have to be resolved in a
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way that makes sense that is an absolutely right, flexibility is the key to doing that. >> i am out of time, thank you for your patience. >> gentlelady's time is expired. >> in upstate new york, 11 counties, a village that is a very proud area. these are challenging times. due to a chemical that is detected, we have not had potable water for over six weeks. we had carbon filtration process ongoing, and potable water, at the same time we are monitoring
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blood levels, citizens and beginning the long process of comprehensive health study and soon to begin the process of identifying the source of contamination and ultimately identifying an aquifer that we can be confident in going forward. in march of 2015 we contacted the epa. the response was an unregulated chemical and it did not pose a health risk. at the end of the year, specifically on the seventeenth of december, epa came out with a statement and said the water is not potable and furthermore that it posed a risk to health and my question is how do you go about making determinations and what changed from march to december and before you answer that, in my research as i have worked on this i have come to find out
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there are many unregulated chemicals. i think we need a method. we are going to have a message that we go through these unregulated chemicals and have a way hopefully with analytics and automation where we can compress and go through all the health data so i can tell you people are hurting and are very disappointed and looking for answers. >> i share your concerns and interest in finding ways in which we can more effectively and quickly address these new chemical plants that are entering into some of our water systems the we are finding across the country. i believe our region has been aggressive in working with the community and i want to thank you and the community for how quickly people have been reacting to this situation getting bottled water out,
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getting a new car and system in. the epa has been trying very hard to keep up with new chemicals we are finding, to do the signs of high and that. the systematic process to do that, and recommending first, identifying, going for a listing process, that is public, before you unregulated and working with the state and local communities to adopt those regulations. >> i am hearing you. is that the answer to my question? >> it is not. that is an appraisal of how difficult it is and why i agree with you that we need to do better. we are looking at more automation in how we do the science around this but frankly if congress would continue their push that they are on, on the toxic substances control act we would have more ability to understand what chemicals are going into products in the system and what challenges they may pose so we would be better
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able in this end to find out where they are and what they are doing. >> march to december, was there something that changed in our understanding or was it a latency in understanding that there was a danger out there. this is what i am not clear on. >> i have to talk to the region because i'm not sure i can specifically answer your question. i believe that the testing that was provided to the region early on was in a system that was currently in use, but when we found out their existing drinking supply wells that were being used, part of the challenge for us was that our recommended level in some cases was fairly high, currently being reconsidered. we were trying to get the best information we had based on the science we knew and that is why there was continued debate back and forth on the level and what was safe and what wasn't that
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that is because the science was changing and the tests were changing and what we knew to be the case in terms of what people were drinking was changing as well. >> we are going to stay in touch on this. i will submit for the record the second question that has to do with the hudson river and i yield back. >> thank you to the administrator for being with us, always great to have the new englanders in our committee. i will be quick, two questions, the first one relates to this ruling, in conjunction with the epa regulation on pesticides and the fish and wildlife will regarding the long year-and for farmers, landowners in timber and harris in new hampshire, how will your agency coordinate with
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usda and fish and wildlife to minimize confusion about the interplay between these rules. if you follow. >> that is a very good question that i am not sure i can answer. i will have to get back to you because you have baffled me with that question connecting with the clean water and other issues. >> what i am trying to give some guidance, because i have more trees than people, it is a big timber area, have landowners working on conservation, as these rules come together it is obviously going to limit the way they can use their property and i just want to give them guidance. i wonder if there is coordination is basically what i am looking at.
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>> i have not been a part of its high debt figure out. that threw me the first time. is an important bit. >> the second question relates to the clean power plant, biomass energy, i am the co-chair with my republican colleagues mr. westman of the biomass, the supreme court issued a stay this week on the clean power plant. my question goes beyond the state. there is confusion in the biomass energy world, stakeholders' regarding whether or not biomass will be treated as a carbon neutral form of energy. we submitted a letters to you. i am curious whether a determination has been made to end whether biomass will be
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treated as carbon neutral under the clean power plant. >> that is a question i understand. help me recover a little bit. biomass is a really important part, we expect of many states compliance strategies they would use for the clean power plant. there have been questions about the rule itself, identified by airmass, we also recognize there are other things states of looking for for guidance. and we are doing already seminars to get people up to speed so we can have the right questions to feel confident to have biomass be an effective part of their compliance
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strategy. uncertainties about when epa might approve, i would like to issue an indication from the biomass caucus, sets up an event on the hill with your team to educate members of congress, bipartisan from all over the country to learn more about this interpretation and -- >> that would be great. members have prompted this workshop to happen. maybe we could to after we give you a sense of where we are. i have to go to another committee but i will have my staff stick around to connect with you, thank you so much, i yield back. >> thank you very much. >> i appreciate your attendance here today and willingness to answer all these questions.
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something austin scott talked about, great concern among the racing community and car enthusiasts that regulation is coming down basically on stock cars that have been converted for raising. if you want the outfit to be known as the entertainment prevention agency among millions of readers around the country, i would recommend not pursuing that. please check into that. i will follow up on something from a couple months ago, one of your colleagues, in my district known as iron mountain mine in california, above the sacramento river which affects water supplies for 20 million californians and hundreds of thousands of acres of agriculture, wouldn't be that much different than the gold king mine in the animus river situation so i asked the court a couple months ago would you please see to what i get that report so that i know the
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situation is stable on and that. we can't have that affecting californians. on the issue of section 404 on the exemptions provided for agriculture, the clean water act, normal farming activities including heat plowing, minor drainage, harvesting for food and fiber and forest products, conservation practices etc. no additional requirements for example with and it to be be continuous are included. some of my constituents, you have to have considered is cropping on these lands otherwise you lose your ability to have that exemption. nowhere in the law does it specify that that that is being carried out in my district by bba for your associates.
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sometimes referred to as tension. in the army corps of engineers, carrying out some activities with this regulation. do you agree section 404 makes no additional requirements that the activity be a continuous crop as we see it in the law? >> i am not aware of it but i will have to get back to you on it. >> continuous cropping deck to the use. >> i don't know what actions you are referring to so i should dig into it. >> coming down hard on people finding them or making them in some cases seek permits to do what they have been doing or let the land idle for a few years. >> that is what people do. >> for market conditions, you should not have a permit, sometimes folks seeking permits are afraid they will have a three year waiting process for
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getting the permit issued to them which is epa or others, pay their land payments and tax payments as they sit and wait for citizens so another one, i have to go fast. i apologize. section 110 of consolidation appropriations act of 2016 specifically prohibits funds from this act from requiring the regulation as was alluded to a while ago. are you aware of that exemption as well under that appropriation? it was an appropriation amendment specifying no funds would be used. >> for which specific? >> under section 110 and the appropriations act of 2016, no funds are to be used under section 404 requiring these permits. >> i am not aware of it. >> that is the direct loss put in place so look forward to your
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answers on that. moving quickly here, it epa and army corps of engineers obliged -- abide by the clean water act, opposing regulations stray far from the congressional intent. you mentioned several times following lot, pretty clear in the law and exemptions and follow up by the amendments and appropriation activities we have done here so we believe we are the ones who said that scores the epa is to follow. as long as they have exemptions to that it is problematic. there are exemptions on that. that epa is looking for exemptions to exemptions in your rulemaking who is making the law here? that is what people are concerned about. direct your agency to cs regulated activities of the clean water act? >> we should not be doing anything other than exempting activities. >> my time is expired, have some
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follow. appreciate your answers today. >> mr walorski for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks so much. i am over here. i said hello earlier and wanted to invite you to northern indiana to my district because a couple reasons. i sat here and you have for two hours and here is the issue in my district in northern indiana, we have one of the largest manufacturing district in the country, not just the midwest. in the southern part of the state we have coal mines and we are strewn throughout with heavy agriculture as well so i look at this, since the day i came to congress and even before indiana is a good role model for the environment being good stewards of the economy and i could show you in my district places where we are out of the box, and
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things that are incredibly creative towards the environment. noaa is a better steward of the environment and family farmers because their complete livelihood taking care of the area so i do agricultural stores, on the last agricultural 4 we were able to diversify, and do great things in our state, do some really clean water things, and i am old enough, when the epa was considered a partner, a partner with industry, a partner with farmers, and came along side. and not to be punitive or penalize. and the agricultural tours, have an understanding, what i heard from my farmers is today's epa is a punitive revenue generator
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for big government and it bothers me. i sit on this committee, when it comes to this lotus will, i understand, why the frustration is so high on both sides, this is not a partisan issue today, this is an issue of americans and farmers and members of representatives trying to have an understanding of in a state like indiana we are in a target virtually in every portion of what we do and what we beat our nation in in coal in agriculture and heavy manufacturing. but because of this issue of heavy-handed government, there's no other way to explain it. i understand your intentions but also understand i have been around long enough so we had great gains as a country with a partner in the epa and when we talk about humility and attitude there's a gigantic stone problem. when i come out of my district hearing people from all over the
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state saying it is the punitive regulating system and the epa comes calling, don't even have a chance to implement rule number one and here comes implementation of rule number 2 and i am kiri is especially on lotus because i agree with my colleagues, i would ask you if you bring shareholders around us and we do it right, do it balanced. not calling for one extreme or the other. i believe there's a balance between good stewards of the economy and i can tell you my state does that but my question is this. when we talk about on the one hand you say the epa doesn't regulate but we look at implementation of the rule, this extension leaves some room. here is my question. is a ditch exemption given if a business, farm or local government believes it is exempt or do they have to prove it is exempt? >> the way in which the law works is if there is a question
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you are going to be destroying or polluting what might be a water -- >> question from the epa? >> no, the individual landowner might be concerned their activity would be doing that. on their private land or elsewhere, that question is raised by the fact landowner and they ask the appropriate questions that usually and often go to usda and filter through but we are not changing the dynamics of how the rule -- how the guidance -- >> worst case scenario, some farmers ends up, somebody somehow, not in compliance and must do x y z, with the u.s. will as it is now and what we are talking about with this exemption could a farmer potentially face any legal action if he was strongly on
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this side that he is not out of compliance and somebody from the epa comes in and says if this goes all the way to the end could somebody like a farmer be penalized, and to defend himself on the question of water on his own land. >> there have been enforcement cases, not a great deal compared to the way in which people get to work together if to answer these questions and i can honestly tell you in my heart of hearts we worked hard on this rule to make the clarity you need so that you as the farmer can be assured that if someone asks that question you know the answer. >> you missed the mark and i ask this will be repealed when we go back. >> the time is expired. five minutes. thank you for being here. the bipartisan support you have
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seen that farmers, ranchers, they are their own investors of their property, not doing anything to harm their livelihood or third children and family. to mr. austin scott's question, the growing planting season or anything like that, lands to the question, i am fearful that the epa as the bureaucracy wants to literally drive -- start the car. when you don't know the basic facts, when you apply pesticides how important those windows are to maintain agriculture integrity it begs the question who should know these answers and my answer is you should
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know. we talk about pesticides and was with respect to your agency's roles in improving the use of pesticides does the epa examine the health and safety of herbicide under federal insecticide act, any differently if it is proposed tied to a genetically engineered plant if it is not and does the agency meet its registration obligation equally in both cases? my question is it common for products to be at your agency several years while registration dates are renegotiated multiple times? >> my understanding is we had a great deal of success in eliminating extensions of time overall for all our program, quite remarkably.
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additional challenges with a genetically engineered products. if they are that is where that science comes in and we explore it. they are not treated differently than looking at how we always look at pesticides which is by the science trying to stick with the legal time lines that we have to make under it. >> question on this issue, the president stressed importance and value of transparency, the use of sound science and reliable data. epa is increasingly reliant on modeling data looking at the occurrences, and extremely unlikely scenarios to essentially overruled volumes of actual hard science, laboratory and monitoring data historically relies on around the world. decades. why was this fundamental change not put out for public notice and comment so stakeholders would have an opportunity to comment on this transition to
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such a heavily reliant on just the worst-case scenario resumptions, modeling and epidemiological studies. >> i am not aware there has been any change in policy directions so i am happy to look at specific decisions you're referring to. >> i will look forward to that answer because i am under the understanding that there's a transition away from the hard science. >> i am happy to answer it. >> let's keep dealing with this raw data, hard science. i heard about serious matters regarding epa policies based on human research data that may not be reliable. for years epa has relied on hundreds of studies evaluating all aspects, cumin susceptibility to pesticides including studies designated to make sure children would be protected. surely we want that even though epa uses high quality
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assessments for 20 years epa now relies primarily on epidemiology studies and some articles in which epa, as i am told again, seen the raw data to determine if these studies are reliable more accurate. case in point, columbia university conducted a key study, refused to provide the raw data even though epa partially funded the study, the epa is relying on information based on raw data that cannot be reviewed for accuracy. i am running out of time and i will submit this question. is it correct the epa has not gotten access to that raw data or are you refusing to disclose that and if you have the information are you not disclosing that information for the public to view and i will look forward to your answers to that question. i yield back.
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>> five minutes, mr. newhouse. >> thank you for being here. let me start by calling your question -- your attention to a letter from last month in regard to the company called coke would would products. we have had the last two years, record-setting catastrophic fires, wild fires, tremendously negative impact on our communities. this would products company is one of the largest employers in this small community, over 185 people, $60 million impact in the community. unfortunately they have announced recently that they plan to shed down at the end of february. people are working very hard to find someone to come in and take over the mill. one of the issues is they don't
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have an operating permit. two years ago the epa promised a rewrite of the permit that would more accurately reflect operations in the plant and without that permit they're having a difficult time finding anybody interested in reopening it. if you could look into that i would appreciate it. >> i would be happy to do that. >> i have a copy of that letter. a couple questions. section 303 of the clean water act clearly gives states the authority to develop water quality standards and submit those plans to you to confirm that they comply. >> that is correct. >> i don't think section 303 gives the epa power to establish criteria and last year epa indicated it would reject washington's water quality standards on the basis of two things. number one, it doesn't account
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for consumption of 171 grams of fish per day, which is the equivalent of beating 38 cans of tuna on month. number 2, for people who actually consume that much fish it doesn't account for the cancer risk level of can-6 or 1 in 1 million so the proposed rule is more stringent and required to protect human health and inconsistent with existing policy and could cost my state billions of dollars for compliance. can you discuss for me briefly, we have a short amount of time, how epa arrived at these levels, why the agency is seeking to impose standards that far exceed your own water quality guidelines? >> i am very familiar with this issue in terms of work that is going on between the state of washington and epa.
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the state of washington recently proposed water quality standards, we have been starting a process to do that ourselves, we're perfectly happy to defer to the state on water quality standards should those come out in a way that does two things, for human health and tribal treaty rights which we are obligated to protect under treaty law. >> let me follow up quickly. as for your proposed cancer risk level, you would need to reduce the agents on the toxic pollutants -- get this, less than naturally occurring levels, the river as it flows naturally would not meet the level, 2013 study conducted by industries, and municipalities, even the most advanced technology available with billions of
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dollars in upgraded resources, a few facilities would be able to meet those standards so my question is where does epa think it derides the authority or power to tell states they have to meet these standards could they have no part in formulating and in no way grounded by sound science? >> we can have this conversation, we are running out of time. the region working on this, region 10 is in close contact with washington and stakeholders in the business community to understand how we can come to a conclusion in state efforts of our own to be reasonable, rational, and make sure they can be achieved and in no way take away the flexibility in terms of how they achieve it. >> appreciate that, and submit for the record, thank you for being here.
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>> mr. kelly for 5 minutes. >> thank you for being here. my first question is, to enhance cooperation or communication for pesticide applications. we expect to find pollinator health as well. unfortunately despite what mississippi is suing the epa is undermining those relationships. both farmers and beekeepers thought they had addressed many pollinator and pesticide issues, farmers are busy access to key products and will be unable to protect their crops, beekeepers, and economic it to the farmers, and to include my constituents have the time proven product, a
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new effective product available to meet their needs. >> one of the things we should talk about where this concern is coming from. i know in working through the pollinator strategy, the key things is an agreement and understanding between beekeepers and their own farmers about how to protect the pollinators while at the same time allowing crops to be properly managed. if there is a disconnect there, it was one of the highlights that said the federal government doesn't need to get involved in this as long as it is happening. if we missed the boat, we might turn that around. >> i will make sure we get you that information to understand because they started before you ask and they feel -- >> this is the conversation we wanted to have happened.
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>> i was going to joke about our accent because i didn't know if we needed an interpreter. >> i can understand you. >> after the hearing today i am not sure we are not different in more ways than our accident. i have not seen it displayed. i think if you look back you have 32 states that filed lawsuits, the house and senate, majority of members regardless which party think it is not being implemented correctly. it is not being implemented correctly and what i see is the epa, sticking the flag in, the rest of america is wrong, we are right and we will defend and i have heard several times you say
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we defend this action. i don't agree with what the court said, or that we broke the law, don't agree with this. we will defend our science, we will do this, that is not humility. that is the opposite of that. that is arrogance which i am smarter than you, don't care how many of you there are or what backgrounds you come from by am smarter than you, i am writing you are wrong. repeal notice, and do away with it. the rule we have now, i can tell you the majority of america does not believe -- it is punitive. and not helpful. we need clean water, no one understands that more than me, one of the most crucial resources is clean drinking water. and water to water, and we are so entrenched that we have to
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have this, and if you repeal the rule, step back and get with congress and farmers, and get with environmentalists, get a whole group of people in a room and say what do we want to achieve and what is the most effective way to do that had an we are prideful regardless what we are but to get to the female buddy, a group port commission together, and come out -- businesses, farmers, legislators, everyone knows this is not the right -- stick a flag in the ground and defense something that doesn't work. i yield back. >> thank you, welcome,
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administrator mccarthy. i want to be back further than lotus and talk about the epa's chesapeake scheme because that is the precursor to what is going on nationwide with lotus. i think you agree it is both significant and unique for a variety of reasons. early in the implementation process epa documents mention many specifics were novel in comparison to past epa t m d ls and this could serve as a template for other watersheds throughout the nation. further the concerns voiced by agriculture, forestry, in addition to local communities and numerous legal challenges speak to the enormous impact the epa's actions will continue to have in the bay region.
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given this, shouldn't the epa have conducted an analysis to estimate the cost of such an important rule? >> it is my understanding that we have been in that process. >> since 2009? you are almost a half way point, you implemented this process that have never done a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the cost of this, and taxpayers of my district and all the other districts in the six states isn't greater than the benefits to the day? >> what we tried to do was allow states the flexibility to choose their own path forward and because of that, it would have been extraordinarily difficult to provide any certainty about what that cost. >> that is not what happened if i may because the states for the past quarter-century have done just that. that is what the clean water act
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provides for. it says federal government gets to set the standard and the state gets to write the plan and implement the plan, to meet the standards and a lot of progress was made over 25 years. sediment has been reduced by 50%, nitrogen and phosphorus by 40%. before this ever even began. and yet the epa said that is not good enough and went ahead with putting pressure on the states, threatening a the states that if they didn't change the way they did it, there would be costs and other consequences to them. until march of 2009 your agency had assured us that no tee in the hell would be implemented before there was an economic analysis of how much has this cost the affected states and on average how much has it cost the
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average farmer or producer in the chesapeake bay watershed? >> i can't answer that question. >> you never did the homework, never did the work necessary to make sure this was a worthwhile undertaking. the state of virginia estimated the cost to virginia alone would be more than $16 billion but the epa never came back and said here is a calculation of the added benefits, benefits beyond what was already taking place, chesapeake bay getting healthier, has been getting healthier for many years, it is a good thing, we all support that but when you take the law into your own hands and do it contrary to what the clean water act provides you get lawsuits rather than progress. your agency has been implementing it for several years now and as i understand it, next year you will be releasing the chesapeake bay mid point assessment. therefore it would seem you
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would have had ample time to conduct such an analysis of the cost-benefit of it. and prior to implementation. >> we are in the midst of that process, don't know when it will be completed. my understanding is is being worked on by the agency. >> you may be passed the point assessment before you ever determine whether it should have been done in the first place and therefore all of the costs that have gone forward if they were not justified the epa should not have issued regulation without having that done first. does the epa view the financial impact of the rules it puts on america's farmers and homeowners and taxpayers and small communities that got the shenandoah valley in my district, do not view that type of impact to be of importance?
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>> one of the reasons we are doing it the way we are is to allow not just us to consider the most cost-effective path forward but allow the communities themselves. >> minor time is expired but i really have to express my ongoing dismayed that this agency for all these many years the we have been talking about this have received just that, talk and no information that would justify this major impact on the states that have quite frankly been the guinea pigs for the rest of the country which is facing similar assault under lotus and why those measures are before the courts. >> thanks for being with us today. i represent from michigan, neighboring genesee county and like to talk about the flint
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water situation and as of yesterday there were concerns raised by a family of flint and you may have heard these concerns, melissa maze said that we saw more information on google than we did from the epa. we ask them for help and got nothing. what i would like to do, you have been to flint. you will bear february 2nd, put the focus of blame on the state. the governor has apologized, people have lost their jobs in the state over this matter, the epa region 5 administrator resigned, was that over the flint water situation? >> her explanation to me was it was because she knew she was -- had already become -- she thought the focus should be on what we do for the people of flint.
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it was a courageous act on her part. >> the maintain that the epa did everything right? >> i did not maintain that. a situation like flint should never have happened. i explain what i thought were inadequacies of the state oversight and primacy. they are the ones that have the authority under the law and they are the ones with primary obligation and in no way said that epa, had done some kind of thorough analysis. >> my understanding is that epa, february of last year, corrosion control, leaching from the pipes was not being implemented but there were serious concerns about raised levels of lead.
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the enforcement action level of the epa, the epa was aware of that and did nothing, we are almost a year later and epa did nothing. explain why that happened. faugh >> i believe in april of last year was when the state told a this and correct the misimpression they gave us that corrosion control was not happening. epa vigorously from that point forward recommended to the state then they take action to get corrosion control up and running. inert there other things we could have done or should have done? that is the focus of our attention at this point. we did of receipt of this, recommend the appropriate steps for the state to take. >> you say that was in april. on february 25th a president from flint, miss walters who had four children with lead
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poisoning contacted miguel del t toro from your division informing him that flint was not treating water with standard corrosion control that prevent lead pipes from leaching lead. also your employee learned that the caps were being free flushed for several minutes prior to sampling when they did water tests. that is very twenty-fifth, the epa had been notified corrosion controls were not being implemented and the testing process was flawed. my understanding is under the safe drinking water act you have the authority for action authorise when there is imminent substantial endangerment to help. my question is when you do this in february, why was there no action taken for almost a year? >> my understanding in february
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was that we did ask the state of michigan whether or not corrosion control was happening, they gave us an indication that it was, we relied on that but at the same time we did work specifically to test mr. walter's home and it is not unusual more indication of corrosion control happening or not to have a high lead levels in a particular home that can occur for a variety of reasons including a disruption in the street, so one hostas not dictate whether corrosion control is happening and ineffective but in no way did miguel ignore this. >> i am not saying that. miguel actually e-mail did it did it people, colleagues at the epa will laying concerns about
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this faulty testing mechanism and also in a follow-up test when they used the right testing mechanism there were lead levels of 400 parts per billion, 27 times epa's threshold, march 3rd, almost at a year agod nothing happened. i want to go again to june 24th, to the head of the epa drinking water division calling flint's lack of corrosion control a major concern. no action from the epa. finally i am told rather isn't taking action, a legal opinion was requested. .. on the authority of the epa to step i have to believe that anyone who looks at the documentation of law would be able to give the opinion
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that the epa has authority in this matter. would you not agree with that? >> when you say no action was taken by epa, i think you minimize the communication that epa has that we normally have the states that are very clear that erosion control should of been done from day one and it needed to continue. the state of michigan that was challenging whether or not an additional testing was necessary. >> and people that lost their jobs. now the question is, if you knew it wasn't happening why did you not take action? >> i can explain you my interact it is a much longer conversation than that. we clearly did everything we could to get the state of michigan to give what they were supposed to do. when i became aware and engaged that is when you saw an enforcement action taken. >> my understanding is that communications between epa
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region five regarding this matter have been requested. the governor has released all of his communications. when can we expect to see the documentation from region five? >> we have numerous foia requests. requests. >> this is pretty important. >> there is nothing more important right now than getting that city clean water your you'll see a large federal presence including epa who is responsible to get that done. >> you are well over. >> i will respond. >> i would like to know when you have those documents published i guess is the question. >> i'll be happy to take that back. we have a number of requests. i don't know what the schedule is. >> the gentleman's time has expired. mr. davis, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. administrator mccarthy, thanks for being here. did your staff attorney for a
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question from me about individual septic systems include in a definition in the wotus? >> no. >> ipod last time i said they should be fired if they didn't do because this will be my fourth time. do you delete individual septic systems are included in the language that says sewage treatment associate exam from the wotus clarification? >> i'm not for me with the so i don't want to venture. i have no answer. >> at a joint hearing between house and the senate i did the senate i get asked the same question. >> really? >> no response was we don't regulate individual septic system discharge for non-source point pollution but you do. i still get to my question answered. if they would be considered under the sewage treatment facility exemption under the existing wotus rule.
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i do a lot of time. i have other issues i want to get too. that's okay. i'll get back to you. i what do you guys another chance the next hearing. but i am disappointed that your staff once again did not have a prepared answer on this. knowing i was going to ask for the fourth time that just makes me as a member of congress feel as though this is more of a check the box issue for the epa. and those who work with you and i'm sure they did not prepare you for the. >> i would not want you to think that. >> i as a former staffer would not put you in a situation like that again. this is disappointing to us and i am disappointed in those that are sitting 90. i know you mentioned earlier in the hearing you're trying to ensure there's a better working relationship between the agriculture sector and the epa. thirst folks who don't think the epa council of economic consequences of some of your regulatory proposals.
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regulatory proposals. i also asked to last event, last hearing we had whether or not we have worked with usda to employ them to cover.a member of agriculture, that was my language. what is the status of getting that person appointed? >> on the standing committee? >> yes. >> as recently as last week we met with usda so that we could finalize it. we understand how important it is in have been working hard to make sure we respect people's interest and will be working with usda. >> i appreciate that. this is something i asked you about before. i just don't think the epa actions and again i don't expect you to take away from every hearing our concerns,
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but i do expect the folks sitting behind you to follow up. my legislative intent was to get someone from agriculture to work with you so that maybe when you came here today you would not offended talk about how you work to bridge that relationship, bridge that gap with her agricultural community. it is very disappointing. you wonder lawyer ask your has taken two years for a simplea simple request to appoint someone to a standing advisory board has not been done, why they don't trust the epa. it is very disappointing on my end. i would hope that by the next time we meet that we could see much more progress on this. two years has been long enough. you would prove it a lot by
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accomplishing this task in getting someone on the advisory committee. with that i want to make my chairman happy by yielding back to remainder of my time >> you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. experts believe that over 70 ped we have seen a dramatic decrease in production. the season's harvest is 69 million boxes. that's the smallest we have added 50 years down from the 240 million. speak to your agency is doing? is there anything you need from us to help facilitate that?
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>> we are taking the situation extraordinarily seriously. i know that we met with the house delegates, delegations to talk about what we have already done on recent registrations bringing more tools to the table, but we are also in the middle of looking at an emergency exemption request we are working with the cdc and fda and we are going to try to get that done as soon as possible. >> if we can help facilitate or extrapolate whether it's is the apples were anything like that come our state and thus people would be greatly appreciated. >> am concerned farmers and not getting access to the tools they need. 40 percent of global crop production could be lost
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because of the effect. i understand the average research and development cost for just one new pesticide to reach the market is roughly $256 million. the average timeframe is about ten years. and i understand we have to do our due diligence though we have products approved by the epa and polled after this kind of effort. what are your thoughts on that? >> we certainly should look at the full range of effort and with the averages, but i want to look at more recent data and see if we have been able to do much better job. it is clearly a desire to do her job safe and effectively. >> absolutely. >> i don't think that the timeline you indicated is
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the timeline that the agency operates under at this point. >> and i justi just want to kind of -- i am concerned about how long it takes to approve new product, and i am also concerned the epa is drifting away from its goals set by congress which includes basing decisions based on sound science rather than on input from outside persons trying to limit the use of options for farmers. some of the nonprofit groups who oppose the use of pesticides no matter what their value and addressing world hunger no matter how safe they are, those interest groups should know that the crop protection greatly reduced malnutrition for millions of children and adults by safely protecting crops, safely increasing yields. they will also keep costs in the us lower.
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when you commit to me today that as the law requires you will base your decisions in the epa on sound science and only on sound science. >> yes. >> and we see this, some of the pesticide that the outside groups are saying, on the honeybees. >> i want to indicate relative to your 1st question one of the most important things is to get new chemicals on the market that are much less harmful and much more effective. you are absolutely right on those questions in their linkages. >> i would like for you to structure caught -- show strong leadership with 26 states suing the federal government and the epa until it can reach a better solution if you would just back off. and then the standard of
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testing methodology that we have seen with the lead situation in michigan, you have to run the water or don't run the water. there is not a standard. if you don't have a standard you could get skewed results. >> we have grave concerns and we will. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, administrator for being here today. right here. >> i don't know how i lost you. >> the lights. anyway, i have learned a lot here today. learning about some of the things that we have to deal with. i am a new member of congress from georgia.
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there is an obvious disconnect between the american people and your agency. your ability to carry out the laws. i guess my question is what have you learned from this hearing today and what do you plan to do about it? >> i think that i have learned that we have significant not just differences of opinion but an understanding of what the agency is doing. they have a lot of work to do to have a trusting relationship to be able to talk to one another and to listen to those concerns and effectively get them in their policies and regulation. >> would you do this? we are -- what i would like to see is a plan by your
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agency to do just what you said you wanted. layout a strategy somehow that we are going to get on the same page and how we will do that because we have differences in science. you have an important job. we have issues. we have brought them before you today. went out in colorado with their mistakes. i will say is a long-term member of the business community that part of that strategy needs to be prioritization. you are doing things that are affecting the economy, affecting our farmers ability to operate there farms and then letting out a thing slipped through the cracks. neither reprioritize your systems. the other thing relative to the economic impact, white
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what is the us, again, we talked about where that will comes from, and you need to understand that over half retiring. in only 56 percent is there. obviously command you feel our frustration. and our frustration is there frustration because we start talking about taking people's property away from them because they have retained water so that they can sustain there farm that is a serious issue. millions of comments on the thing. so you can certainly understand the concern. from an economic standpoint, is your agency at all connected to the fact that this economy is growing in less than 2 percent and has been for the last seven years? yourgency havbility does
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what responsibility does your agency have for that dilapidated growth? have you gotten together and talked about, and is the growing of the economy important to you? >> always, yes. >> these are jobs were talking about. every american deserves the opportunity to get a good job. we have some say 90 million people who are not working today. one of your strategies that i would recommend is that you go back and look and see what your agency could do to grow this economy and how you could grow the economy. and any further comments as far as what you're going to move forward while i have 44 seconds remaining? >> no, sir. i will certainly take to heart what you suggest. i do think we try very hard to understand how we can meet our mission but do it anyway that
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advances the economy moving forward. i have no question that there are challenges in agriculture, and that those challenges have to be part of the discussion. we have when we interact with this sector. >> you realize that has to be a bottom-up approach? farmers have to be included in the process. >> yes. >> i yield back. >> ms. mccarthy, we are almost there. dr. benishek, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> hello. >> welcome, ms. mccarthy. >> thank you. >> last september the epa published an interim recommendation for environmental standards in equal labors for use in federal procurement. one of the recommendations for number excludes several credible standards are widely used in the united states, including the sustainable forest initiative
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and the american tree farmer system standards. we understand his recommendation was made without consultation with the department of agriculture. who not only has a lot of expertise in forest management and product but who will publicly, tested the initiative and the american tree farmer system standards can be used to verify sustained buildup forced products. furthermore, it's based on a determination by the department of energy that has no formal analysis behind it. can you explain the basis of his recommendation for federal procurement? >> i do know that it is related to the federal government wanting to make sure that they are purchasing reflected the full range of interest of the public but -- >> the forest service are the department of agriculture has already determined that this is a sustainable thing so what a
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factor are you taking into account the? >> we are utilizing a certification program that was up and running that we thought had credibility because of its history. but we recently been asked to consider opening up to other certifications. >> what is the certification program you're using? >> a third party. >> these are the two most widely used certification processes in the country. the ones i've outlined. >> we are opening up discussion so we can expand there. we have no interest in taking away the opportunity to use legitimate and very well tested third party certification. >> why wouldn't you consult with the department of agriculture running two -- prior to making this will? >> you are right, if it's a forced the issue we should be consulting a properly with all the park is.
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>> you said you're going to look into it. when is it going to happen? >> we already are looking into it. i just can't put my finger on it but i know it's part of the work we're doing ongoing. i can get back to you on what the timeline might be. >> is the timeline a month? >> i don't know exactly. >> three years of? >> i can get back to you. >> i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. >> thank you, mr. chairman for your indulgence. ms. mccarthy, once again i will try to keep this to ask you for an off-line clerk occasion and then a couple of yes and knows. i appreciate your time. just to bring your attention quickly, presidential memorandum recently issued called the mitigating impacts on natural resources from development and encouraging related private investments. i don't expect you to know this
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on the spot but again mitigating impacts on natural resources development and encouraging related private investments. it's a new presidential memorandum but it appears to be, carrying the weight of an executive order and seems like quite a significant departure from current policy looking like it's going to go back and reassess every possible impact that a man-made activity might have on public land or any natural resource. do you plan to follow this policy, and can you walk me through in a letter later on how you plan? are you aware of that i will? >> i have not been made familiar with the details so i will have to get back to you on, agency would respond. we have very little ownership of federal land. >> it might have an effect on all federal land so we are still catching up.
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i would appreciate if your office can clarify to that in a letter off-line. on the previous questions i had on clean water act, this is very important to several of my constituents, on the 404 exemption of the clean water act. current clean water act regulations provide that plowing will never involve the discharge and list of changes in the area of waters of the united states to dry land. i'm familiar with that with growing rice been a long about 1985 sod buster skunk swamp busters regulations came in. did not take swaps or change waterways, big thanks. but since we dove this extension does this regulation really truly means what it says? >> my understand is the plowing, yes. >> was this regulation intended to ensure farmers that their
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plot would not be regulated under the clean water act? >> that would be its intent, yes. >> might be repetitive but does it mean the plowing is not regulated under the clean water act unless it changes waters to drive and? >> waters to dry land speak with something team as waters of the trinity if they've changed it from water speeded the other way around. change land to water. >> a watered land to a dry land which was talked about. so you agree with that? >> yes. i think. >> can farmers rely on this regulation that has interpreted under 404 exemption continue to comply with plowing the fields of? >> just. >> mr. chairman, thank you. thank you for time today and thank you for your indulgence. >> another couple quick ones real quick.
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when you were talking earlier about water jurisdiction, you said biological, chemical and physical must exist to determine if the water is jurisdictional. yet the rule uses biological, chemical or. can you clarify which is which? >> it would be or. >> okay. >> it means you have an ability to destroy the downstream water. >> exactly the or is a much broader interpretation. also i know you are tired of talking about the gl report on social media, but what of the things, whatever you do, however you do it, you ought to be and audit trail, that ought to be a path by which we can trackback to have happened and happened to of the things. but use of the collect thunderclap which hides that, can you commit what are you going to do with social media that you leave in place, you
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will use tools or leave in place an audit trail, and ability to see where it came from and who did it within your organization? >> i certainly know the work on these issues internally, and gao really was concerned that -- sorry. i re-tweet wasn't able to trackback t to epa. went of the things i tried to explain, although i don't agree with gao, i'm not disrespecting the decision to we will work with omb. office of management and budget to do the kinds on how use of his thunderclap. we followed and will make sure we address this. >> other innovations coming in, others that allow you to a non-lcv things. but we don't want our federal -- >> it will never be me. >> i gotcha. second millennium apologize to how cold it is in this room.
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there are other offices that are like ovens. apparently our system doesn't know the difference between wintertime and summertime. >> i can now -- >> i apologize. >> that's okay. >> we have a number of members who have a number of questions we liked is that for the record. we would appreciate the kind response to those. not like you don't have enough to do. we would like a timer response to that. again thank you for being here this morning and i know you anticipated that this was not going to be the most fun you could have on a thursday night speech i thought it was incredibly conformant so thank you. >> thank you for being with us for three hours this way. under the rules of the committee the record of today's he will remain open for 10 calendar days to receive additional material and supplemental written responses. airing on the committee of agriculture is adjourned. thank you [inaudible
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conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the hill reports house republicans debated whether election-year budget should look like but to put off decisions till after the presidents' day recess. paul waring laid out three main options. pass a budget with a spending love negotiate last fall by president obama in speaker john
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boehner and begin the appropriations process. pass a budget that returns to sequester levels which will lead to another stopgap funding measure for a major omnibus bill. overturned his quest to to levels that increase defense spending. a quote from speaker ryan who's the former chair of the budget committee said they would be a shame that the sky will not fall if we don't we budget. you can read more at thehill.c >> former secretary of state hillary clinton and then to bernie sanders will speak at the democratic farmer labor party dinner tonight in st. paul, minnesota. live coverage at 8:30 p.m. eastern.
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>> the director of national intelligence, james clapper, updated lawmakers on top local threats including homegrown attacks by isis, north korea's nuclear program. he testified before the senate armed services committee along with the director of the defense intelligence agency, lieutenant general vincent stewart. [inaudible conversations] >> good morning. visit armed service committee meets to receive testimony on the global threats faced by the united states and our allies as part of our oversight of the present defense budget request for fiscal year 2017. i'd like to welcome back director of national intelligence james clapper, and the director of the defense intelligence agency, general vincent stewart. as this is likely his final appearance before this committee at our annual worldwide threat searing, i'd like to thank
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director clapper for over five decades of service to protecting our country. director clapper come in particular we thank you for leading the men and women who strive everyday to collect and analyze the information that helps keep america strong. i thank you for being with us today and i've had the honor of knowing you for a long time. i know of no individual who has served this nation with more distinction and honor, and we are grateful for your service, and we know that that service will continue in the years to come. a list of the threats confronting our nation is eerily familiar yet it is impossible to say we have seen much improvement. in afghanistan, 9800 american troops are still in harm's way. the taliban, al-qaeda and the haqqani network continue to threaten or interest in afghanistan and beyond, and the isil has arrived on the battlefield raising the specter get another -- plan to ask you
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tax the rich order in the east is breaking down and this power vacuum is being filled by the most extreme and at the american forces, sutures groups such as isil and al-qaeda, shiite extremist such as the islamic republic of iran and its proxies, and the inbuilt ambitions of vladimir putin. it has metastasized around the region expanding globally from afghanistan. as i said as well as lebanon, yemen, egypt and most worryingly to libya. it is also conducted or sparked attacks from en route to istanbul, paris to san bernardino. more than a year into our military campaign against isil, it's impossible to say isil is losing and we are winning. at the same time having continue to challenge regional order in the middle east by developing a ballistic missile capability, supporting terrorism, training and arming pro-iranian militant
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groups and engaging in other online activities in places such as iraq, kansas, lebanon, gaza, bahrain and yemen. as the islamic republic received tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief from nuclear deal, it's obvious that these activities will only increase. russia annexed crimea and continues to destabilize ukraine with troubling implications for security in europe. putin's intervention hasn't to my negotiations to end the conflict i convincing assad and his allies they can win. and asia, north korea continues to develop its nuclear arsenal and ever more capable ballistic missiles. went of which it tested this weekend in violation of multiple u.n. security council resolutions. china continues its rapid military monetization while taking coercive actions to assert expansive territorial claims. at the time by the searing last
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year, china had reclaimed a total of 400 acres in the spratly island. today that figure is a staggering 3200 acres with extensive infrastructure construction underway or already complete. i look forward to our witnesses assessment of the nature and scope of these challenges and how the intelligence community prioritizes and approaches the diverse and complex threats we face. as policymakers will look to the intelligence community to provide time and i could information about the nature of the threats we face and the intentions of our adversaries. we have high expectations of our intelligence community as we should come and as they do it themselves. however, we cannot afford to believe our intelligence agencies are omnipresent especially after years of sequestration. an arbitrary budget caps that are damaged our nation's intelligence. every bit as much as spent the rest of our national defense. unfortunately, this
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misperception is only fed by the prideful assertions of politicians seeking to justify their policies. for example, during the iranian deal we were told that the united states has quote, absolute knowledge about iran's nuclear military activities. we were told the deal quote, absolutely guarantees that we will know if iran's chiefs in pursuit the nuclear option. this hubris is dangerously misleading and compromises the integrity of our debate over important questions of u.s. national security policy. americans must know that intelligence is not like in the movies. ..
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our intelligence capacity and capable are just like anything else, cop strained by -- constrained be the limitation of time, space, resources, and policy. as one senior u.s. official aned, with a limited understanding of isil two years ago, quote, a lot of the intelligence collection we withreceiving diminished following the u.s. withdrawal in iraq in 2011, when we lost some of the boots on the ground view of what was going on. put simply, if our national leaders decide not to be present in places, we should not be surprised later when we lack sufficient intelligence about the threats and dangers emerging there. as we receive this important
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intelligence update we must remember it is the responsibility of policymakers from white house to pentagon, to here on cappal hill, to invest in cutting edge capabilities that can provide early indication and warning, as well as to provide our intelligence professionals with sound policy decisions and support, including at times military support that enabled them to proffer their often dangerous and always important work on behalf of nation. if we fail to make the commitments we'll continue to be surprised by events at an ever encriesing cost to our national security. senator. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and let me join you in welcoming general clapper and general stewart. you have a long service to the nation is deserving of praise. i want to echo the chairman's comments, general clapper, about your distinguished service and your continued service, i'm sure.
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thank you, gentlemen. we live in a time when there is a complex array of threats facing the united states, some immediate, some in the future. it is a challenge both the administration and congress to decide how to allocate our nation's finite resources to threes the threats. your testimony today will provide needed insight for our committee on that challenge. in afghanistan, for example, the security and political environments remain challenging, the taliban have south to takevñ advantage of the afghan security force biz increasing operational tempo, especially rural areas, and isil has entered the battlefield in the form of the so-called islamic state in, iskp. allpakistani armies operations across the border have add to the dynamic by pushing other bad actors, including the pakistan taliban and haqqani network into
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afghanistan. i look forward to the assessment of our witnesses to these challenges and the prospect of reconciliation between the afghan government and taliban as our efforts to support the iraqi security forces and local forces in syria continue there are number of questions we must ask. what local forces will serve as a whole force once isil is removed from mosul, raqqa, and the surrounding areas? how will iran seek to advance its interests in iraq? how will turkey respond? will our partners in the gulf unify efforts in syria and how will isil react within iraq and syria and transregionally as it is put under increasing amounts of pressure. these are questions our military posts must factor into their
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plan. the past year has essence substantial changes in the relation serena with iran. the plan of action between the so-called p5 plus one in iran has halted a role back dangerous elements of iran's nuclear program and has placed it under the most comprehensive -- ever assembled. i hope our witness wells regard their assessment of the likelihood of iran complying with the agreement. while the jcpoa made progress with respect to nuclear, is enabled iran to return to the international economic community. with additional resources they may use to support proxies in plays like syria, lebanon, yemen, and other locations. iran may use the additional resources to advance its missile program. iran's decisions in this respect will be a key metric in how to array our forces and what
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assistance partners will need. i welcome your assessment and where this committee should consider better investments. russia's posturing and increasingly aggressive acts in the eastern and middle east are something we must continue to monitor, contain, and when necessary, counter. we must keep a watch ill on on the putin regime, particularly use of conventional and unconventional tactics to bully it neighbors and others. russians syrian campaign has ellipsed crimea and ukraine as a flashpoint in the u.s.-russia relations. rush continues to bull store al-assad, and while running a campaign to suggest its military operations are focused against the islamic state. unlike russian's obscurity in
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ukraine its action are being reported daily in areas where moderate forces are aiming to get from under the rule of the assad regime. this is a complex problem for the united states next coalition fighting asiale and our friends and allies in the region itch look forward to how the intelligence community sees this situation. north korea presents an immediate and present danger to global security. the regime conducted a rocket launch a few days ago in violation of multiple u.n. security council resolutions following the january nuclear test. while china could exert pressure on north korea to encourage the regime to desist, the xi administration prefers to stay on do terms with the north korean regime. without china's operation north korea will continue to build its ballistic capabilities. china continues to agrees in its
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military, particularly projecting power. while china's economy is experiencing challenges, china is continuing its efforts to solidify its claims the in the south china sea despite the protest of sovereign neighbors. it's critical we enhance our partnership with others across the region to bring china into the rule of war based on global regime that will guarantee piece and prosperity across the region. also critical we use all of the nation's tools to ensure that china's continued theft of intellectual properties halted. president xi has pledged to ceases' such economic espionage, an area of equal concern is cyber spas. from a military standpoint, our forces remain dependent on our ability to collect intelligence, conduct cyber operations, protect networks and our
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intellectual problems and as appropriate to counter with offensive cyber operations, including actions against certain adversaries who utilize the internet recruitment propaganda command and control and we book forward to our witness' assessment of these approaches. let me thank you for your service and i look forward to your testimony. >> director clapper. >> distinguished members of the committee, first, thank you both for your acknowledgment of my service. it was last week marked 55 years since i enlisted in the marine corps reserve, very proud of that. proud to sit next to one. >> an inauspicious beginning. >> i also, chairman mccain, would want to thank you for your acknowledgment of the great men and women who work in the intelligence community for both of us, and i also appreciate
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your, i thought, very accurate statement about the capabilities of the intelligence community, what we can and can't do and what is reasonable to expect and not to expect us to do. i appreciate that. general stewart and i are here today to update you on some but certainly not all of the pressing intelligence and national security issues facing our nation, and after listening to both of your statements i think you're going to hear some echos here. so in the interest of time and to get to your questions we'll just cover some of the wave tops. as i said last year, unpredictable instability has become the new normal and this trend will offend for the for seeable future. violent extremists are active in 40 countries, seven countries are experiencing collapse of central government authority, 14 others face regime threatening or violent instability or both. another 59 countries face a
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significant risk of instability through 2016. the record level of migrants. more than one minimum, i likely to grow. migration and displacement will strain countries in europe, asia, africa, and the americas there are 60 million people who are considered displaced globally. the extreme weather, climate change, environmental death degree addition, rising -- death degree -- -- infectious diseases and vulnerabilities in the global supply chain for countermeasures will pose threats. for example, the zika virus first detected in the western hemisphere in 2014 has reached the u.s. and is projected to cause up to four million indications in this hemisphere. with that preface i want to briefly comment on both technology and cyber. technological innovation during the next few years will have an even more significant impact on
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our way of life. this innovation is central to our economic prosperity but will bring new security vulnerabilities. the internet of things will connect tens of billions of physical devices that could be exploited. artificial intelligence well enable computers to make autonomous decisions about data and decisions and potentially disrupt labor markets. russia and china continue to have the most sophisticated cyberprograms. china continues cyberespionage against the united states, whether china's commitment of last september moderates its economic espionage remains to be seen. iran and north korea continue to conduct cyber espionage as they enhance their attack capabilities. nonstate actors also pose cyber threats. isil has used signer to its great advantage, not only for recruitment and propaganda but a little to hack and release sensitive information about u.s. military personnel. as a nonstate actor, isil
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displays unprecedented online proficiency. cybercriminals are the most pervasive cyberthreat to the u.s. financial sector, they use signer to conduct theft, extortion, and other criminal activities. turning to terrorism there are more sunni extreme groups than at any time in history. the rate of foreign fighters traveling to the conflict zones in syria and iraq in the past few years is without precedent. 38,200 foreign fighters, including 900 from western countries, have -- 6900 from western countries have trolled to syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2012. as we saw in the november paris attacks, returning foreign fighters with first hand battlefield experience pose a dangerous operational threat. isil demonstrated sophisticated attack tactics and tradecraft, icele and its eight established and more emerging brancheses has
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become the preeminent global terrorist threat. they have attempted or conducted scores of attack us outside of syria and iraq in the past 15 months. isil's estimated strength world wii exceeds that of al qaeda. ricele's leaders are determined to strike the u.s. homeland. beyond inspiring home grown violent extremist attacks, although the u.s. is a much harder target than europe, isil external operations remain a critical factor in our threat assessments for 2016. al qaeda's affiliates have proven resilient. despite counterterrorism pressure that has largely desmated the core leadership in afghanistan and pakistan, al qaeda affiliates are positioned to make gains in 2016. al qaeda and the arabian peninsula, or aqap, the al qaeda chapter in syria are the two most capable al qaeda branches. increased use of increpted and secure mobile based technologies
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enables terrorist actors to, quote, go dark and serves to undercut intelligence and law enforcement efforts. iran continues to be the foremost state sponsor of terrorism and exert its influence in regional crisis in the middle east. through the islamic revolutionary guard quds force, hezbollah and proxy groups. iran and hezbollah remain a continuing lower toist threat to u.s. interests and partners worldwide. we saw first hand the threat in the united states by home-grown extremists in the july attack in chattanooga na and the attack in san bernardino. in 2015 the number of arrests increased. turning to weapons of mass destruction, north korea continues to conduct test activities of concern to the united states. on saturday evening, pyongyang conducted a satellite launch and claimed the satellite was successfully placed in orbit.
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in addition, north korea carried out a nuclear test, claim can it was a hydrogen bomb but was to -- pyongyang continues to process fissile material and committed to developing a long-range nuclear armed missile capable of posing a direct threat to the united states, although the tim has not been flight tested. despite its economic challenges russia continues its aggressive military modernization program. it continues to have the largest and most capable foreign nuclear armed ballistic missile force. it has developed a cruise missile that violates the inf treaty. china continues to modernize its missile force and is driving for secure second strike capability. although it continues to profess a no first use doctrine.
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the joint cam presentsive plan of action, or jcpoa, provides greater transparency into iran's fissile material production and increases the time the iranians would need to produce enough highly enriched uranium from a few months to a year. iran probably views the jnpoa as a means to remove sanctions while preserving nuclear capabilities. iran's perception of how the jnpoa helps its achieve its overall strategic goals will dictate the level of adherence to the agreement over time. chemical weapons continue to pose a threat in syria and iraq. damascus has used chemicals against the opposition on multiple occasion since syria joined the chemical weapons convention. isil has also used toxic chemicals in iraq and -- including sulfur mustard, the first time an extremist group has used a chemical agent in an
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attack since japannin' 1959 in space, before the 80 countries are now engaged in the space domain. russia and chine understand how our military fights and how heavily we rely on space. they're each pursuing destructive and disruptive antisatellite programs. moving to counterintelligence. the threat both state and nonstate is persistent, complex and evolving. targeting a collection of u.s. political military, economic, and technical information by foreign intelligence services continues unabated. russia and china pose the greatest threat followed by iran and cube on a lesser scale. as well the threat from insiders taking advantage of their access to collect and remove sensitive national security information will remain a persistent challenge for us. i do want to touch on one
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transnational crime issue. specifically drug trafficking. southwest border seed ours of heroin in the united states have doubled since 2010. over 10,000 people died of heroin overdoses in 2014. much of it placed with fentanyl, which is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin in that same year more than 28,000 died from opiode overdoses. and cocaine production in crow columbia, from which most u.s. supplies originate, has increased significantly. now, let me quickly move through a few regional issues in edition ichina's leaders are pursuing an active foreign policy and dealing with slower economic growth. china leaders have embarked on the most am malicious military reforms in china's history. regional tension will continue as china continues construction at its outpost in the south china sea. russia has demonstrated its military capabilities to project itself as a global power, command respect from the west, maintain domestic support for
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the regime and advance western -- russian interests globally. moscow's objectives in ukraine will probably remain unchanged, including maintaining long-term influence of key and frustrating its attempts to integrate into western institutions. putin is the first leader since stalin to expand russia's territory. moscow's military venture into syria marks the first use since is foray into afghan of significanted and dictionary combat -- expeditionary power outside of russian space. moscow faces the reality, however, of economic reception -- recession driven in large part by falling oil prices as well as sanctions. russia's nearly four percent gdp contraction will probably extend into 2016 in middle east and south asia there are more
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operations in the mid east since the arab israeli war. anti-isil forces in iraq will probably make incremental gains in the spring, some made in ramadi in the past few months. isil is now somewhat on the defensive and its territory and manpower shrinking but it remains a formidable threat. in syria, pro regime forces have made strategic gain inside the north as well as in southern syria. manpower shortages will continue to undermine the syrian regime's ability to accomplish strategic battlefield objectives. the opposition has less equipment and fire power and its groups lack unity and sometimes have competing batfield interests and fight among themselves. the meantime, some 250,000 people have been killed as this war has dragged on. humanitarian situation in syria continues to deteriorate, as of last month there were approximately 4.4 million syrian
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refugees and another 6.5 million internally displaced persons which represent half of syria's preconflict population. in libya, despite the agreement to form a new government of national accord, establishing authority and security across the country, will be difficult to put it mildly, with hundreds of militia groups operating throughout the country. isil has established its most developed branch outside of syria and iraq, in libya and maintains a presence in benghazi, tripoli and other areas of the country. the yemeni conflict will remain stalemated through mid-2016. mean while, aqap have summited the conflicts in the collapse of government authority to recruit and expand territorial control. the country's economic and humanitarian situation continues to worsen. iran deepened its involvement in the syrian, iraq, and yemeni conflicts in 2015. also increased military
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cooperation with russia, highlighted by its battlefield alliance in syria and support of the regime. iran's supreme leader continues to view the united states as major threat. we assess that his views will not change despite the implementation of the jcpoa deal, the exchange of detainees and the release of the ten sailors. in south asia, afghanistan is at serious risk of a political breakdown in 2016, occasioned be mounting political economic and security challenges. waning political cohesion increasingly assertive local power brokers, financial shortfalls and sustained countrywide taliban attacks are eroding stability. needless to say there are many more threats to u.s. interests worldwide which are covered in our statement for the record but i'll stop my litany of doom here and pass to general stewart. >> general stewart. >> chairman mccain, ranking member reid, members of the
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committee, thank you for this opportunity to provide the defense intelligence agencies' assessment of global security environment and the threats facing the nation. mr. chairman, my statement for the record details the range of multifacetted challenges, adversaries, threats, foreign military capabilities, and transnational terrorist networks. taken together these issues reflect the diversity, scope and complexity of today's challenges to our national security in my opening remarks i'd like to highlight just a few of these threats. the islamic state and the levant. with coalition forces engaged against the islamic state of iraq in the levant, palsymake -- policymakers better newed the ideology and capabilities of isil. isil as well as like-minded extremists are born out of the same extreme and violent sunni ideology. these jihaddists are determined
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to restore the caliphate, and are willing to justify extreme violence in their efforts to impose their social order on others. as the paris attacks demonstrated, isil has become the most significant terrorist threat the united states and our allies. in 2015 the group remained entrenched in iraq and syria, and expanded globally. spectacular external attacks demonstrate isil's relevance and reach and are key part of their narrative. isil will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the u.s. homeland in 2016. isil foreign fighter cadre is core to external attack capability and the large number of western jihadsists in iraq and syria pose a challenge for western security services. on the ground in syria and iraq, isil continues to control large swaths of territory. in 2015, coalition airstrikes
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impeded isil's ability to operate openly in iraq and syria, curtailed its use of conventional military equipment, and forced it to lower its profile. in 2016, the growing number of anti-isil forces and emerging resource shortfalls will probably challenge isil's ability to govern in iraq and syria. however, the group are probably retain sunni arab urban centers. in afghanistan, and their first full year in the lead, afghan security forces increasingly conducted independent operations. however these forces struggled to adapt to lack of coalition enablers and the high operational tempo which led to uneven execution of operations. as a result, insurgents expanded their influence in rural areas, limiting the extension of government control. the deployment of afghan specialized units and their enablers will be necessary to continue, secure, and keep population center -- in key population centers in russia.
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russian military activity has continued at historical high. moscow continues to pursue aggressive foreign and defense policies, including conducting operations in syria, sustained involvement in ukraine and expanding military capables in the arctic. last year the russian military continued its robust exercise schedule, and aggressively and occasionally provocative deployment. we anticipate similar high levels of military activity in 2016. china is pursuing long-term comprehensive military modernizeddation program to advance its core interests, which include maintaining it sovereignty, protecting its territorial integrity, and projecting its regional influence, particularly in the south china sea. in addition to modernizing equipment and operations, the plas undergone massive structural reforms including increasing the number of navy, air force, and rocket force
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personnel, establishing a theater joint command center and reducing their current military regions down to five joint theater of operations. china has the world's largest and most comprehensive missile force, and has prioritized developments and deployment of regal ballistic and cruise missiles to expand its conventional strike camabilities against u.s. forces in the region and feel an antipa his stick missile which provides ability to attack u.s. aircraft carriers in the western pacific ocean. china also displayed a new intermediate range ballistic missile capable of striking guam during the september 2015 military parade in beijing. north korea's nuclear weapons program and involvement ballistic missile programs are a continuing threat. in early january, north korea issued a statement claiming that it had successfully carried out a nuclear test. a couple days ago they conducted
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their sixth space launch. this launch was the second launch to place a satellite into orbit. the dprk -- new or modified global icbm during their recent parade and its 2015 test of a new submarine launch ballistic capability ability highlights pyongyang's commitment to diversifying missile force and nuclear delivery options. north korea continues its effort to expand its stockpile of weapons grade fissile material inch space, china and russia increasingly recognize the strategic value of space and are focused on diminishing our advantage with the intent of denying the u.s. the use of space in the event of conflict. both countries are conducting antisatellite research and developing antisatellite weapons. making the space domain increasingly competitive and tested and congested. in cyber space remain concerned
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about the growing capabilities of advanced state actors such as russia and china. these actors target dod personnel, networks, supply chain, research and development, and critical infrastructure information in cyber domain. iran and north korea also remain a significant threat to conduct the cyber space attack. nonstate actors use the cyber space to recruit. propagandize and conduct open source research remains a significant challenge. mr. chairman, the men and women of your dia are providing unique defense intelligence around the world and around the clock to war fighters, defense planners, the defense acquisition community, and policymakers to provide warning and defeat these and other threats. i look forward to the committee's questions. >> thank you very much, general. director clapper in all these many decades you have served this country, have you ever seen more diverse or serious
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challenges to this country's security? >> s no, i have not. i've said something like that virtually every year i've been up here. this is my fifth of sixth time, and i decided to leave it out this year because kind of a cliche, but it's actually true. in my 50-plus years in the intelligence business i don't -- i cannot recall a more diverse array of challenges and crises that we confront as we do today. >> your job has been made considerably more difficult because of sequestration. >> yes, sir, it has, and i think the biggest problem with it, frankly, over time, is the uncertainty that it injects in the context of planning and plays havoc with the systems acquisition. so it's the uncertainty factor that we now have


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