« Karl's Comments

Are They Listening?

by Jeremy Lawrence

I ask whether they are listening, because most of what Im hearing and reading about, in the matter of new interpretations of the Clean Water Act, is that interested, concerned parties are testifying in Washington as to the possible/probable negative consequences of carrying out the apparent intent, and that no one from the other side is responding. I wouldnt expect that sometime before the new deadline for public comment - - October 20th - - there would suddenly be an EPA capitulation to the effect of OK, it was a bad idea. Its been deleted from our program. But I do think it would be good politics - notice the small p on politics - if someone in authority within the EPA camp would acknowledge receipt of testimony - - perhaps even to acknowledge that the protest testimony has a valid point - or several. So far as I know, that hasnt happened, and so far as I know, Im the only one wondering out loud, if they are listening. Its sad to consider that I may have, in the negative, just answered my own question.

In a Grow It Here, Make It Here hearing for the Senate Ag Committee, back in the middle of June, Chairman Debbie Stabenow, soon to be the Senior Senator from Michigan revealed that more than three thousand companies in the U.S. either manufacture or distribute biobased products, meaning they create new products from American-grown ag crops. Thats an observation she emphasized meant that the continuing success of the national agricultural industry is directly related to the still growing economy of this country. Perhaps we could get Senator Stabenow to stop in at the office of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, stick her head in the door, and say, Hey! Knock It Off! or something like that.

The arguments against what appears to be EPA intent, regarding new interpretations of the meaning of Waters of the U.S. are pretty clear. Don Parrish, who specializes in Regulatory Affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation told lawmakers straight out. The EPA isnt content with regulating just water - they want to control land use too, and that the agencys overreach ignores the will of Congress and the courts, and compounds farmers problems by calling into question dozens of exemptions for basic farming techniques. Pennsylvania cattleman Andy Fabin says the proposed new rule would not only muddy the waters of current assumed agricultural exemptions, it would in fact expand the number of farming activities requiring federal permits.

The next three and a half months will see a lot of crop production and harvesting, leading right into the end of the comment period before EPA decides and imposes.

Karl Guenther is a retired Kalamazoo farm broadcaster and can be reached at khguenther@att.net . He is a member of Michigan Farm Bureau and an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. (accompanying picture is a screen capture from YouTube)