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EPA adds risk and uncertainty to clean water rules

EPA adds risk and uncertainty to clean water rules

By Mike Barnett

Environmental Protection Agency. EPA. I think a name change is due. Extremely Pugnacious Agency.

EPA recently released its final “Waters of the U.S.” rule. After months of debate, thousands of comments from farmers and ranchers—including 1,200 from Texas—and clear direction from both Congress and the courts, EPA did what it wanted to do. The final rule, according to an American Farm Bureau Federation analysis, will give EPA new powers to regulate farmers, ranchers and other businesses.

How did we get here?

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Hey, EPA: Don’t mess with my barbecue!

Hey, EPA: Don’t mess with my barbecue!

By Mike Barnett

Backyard barbecues. EPA. Mix the two and what do you get? A pollution study with the potential to kill hot dog and hamburger cookouts. At least that’s how I read it.

Sometimes those not involved in agriculture have a hard time understanding all the fuss Texas farmers and ranchers raise about the environmental agency. For example, a rule now being finalized by EPA could bring regulation of water down to bar ditches and fields—potentially affecting every management practice used by the farmer or rancher. It’s a hard concept to grasp unless it affects you.

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EPA rule withdrawal only a tiny step

EPA rule withdrawal only a tiny step

By Gene Hall

Some agencies of the federal government have learned that a “carrot and stick” approach often works. Proposed changes in the Clean Water Act by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) amount to “stick and bigger stick.”

Sometimes you see the “carrot” in enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. Things like Safe Harbor and habitat mitigation mean having a species does not force landowners out of business. Then, other things become possible.

The EPA will move forward with a vast expansion of the agency’s regulatory power with changes in the Clean Water Act. Perhaps as an olive branch, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced the withdrawal of their waters of the U.S. “interpretive rule.”

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Does EPA know they won the big one?

Does EPA know they won the big one?

By Gene Hall

There was a time when our environment was in serious trouble. The EPA went to war against big time polluters. You know what? They won.

I know there’s a big time activist industry that benefits financially from constantly selling an environmental disaster. Still, no serious person would deny we’ve made great strides in cleaning up and protecting the environment.

But it’s not acceptable to continue the fight using all the heavy artillery that was needed four decades ago. The big guns of government are now mostly churning out economy sapping, crippling and punitive regulations that no longer make sense.

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U.S. House moves to block EPA water rule

U.S. House moves to block EPA water rule

By Gene Hall

All fans of property rights and reasonable environmental regulation can cheer at a recent vote in the U.S. House. This week, by a vote of 262-152, the House voted to gut a proposed EPA rule to change the Clean Water Act (CWA.)

The CWA has always given EPA the authority to regulate the navigable waters of the U.S. Once this ill-advised rule is implemented, navigable means mud puddles, ditches and places that aren’t wet most of the time—like a “low spot” in a farmer’s field. That means every foot of ground and drop of water in the U.S. That means aggressive fines of many thousands of dollars a day. It also means lengthy and costly permit fights with regulators who may not care if your crop is at risk.

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