Scott VanderWal opinion on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will turn 40 years old in December. According to the agency, its mission is to “protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment – air, water, and land – upon which life depends.” Over the past 40 years the agency has worked to combat environmental pollution and improve our air, water, and land.
The EPA has had some great successes in the past 40 years, but now appears to be a federal agency run amok. By constantly crafting new schemes to regulate every speck of dust, every drop of water, and land use activities from border to border and coast to coast, the agency is waging an all-out assault on American agriculture and businesses – and ultimately the American public. All too often, it appears as if the agency is operating without the benefit of sound science, rational thought, or statutory authority.
For example, the EPA issued an “endangerment finding” on greenhouse gases (GHGs) and then proposed to regulate GHGs as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act by slipping an amendment into an appropriations bill – exempting the issue from hearings and debate in the authorizing committees. Part of the EPA’s plan is to require farmers and ranchers to start reporting the greenhouse gases emitted by livestock. Never mind that livestock have been emitting gases forever.
The agency is working to regulate on-farm storage tanks for oil – including the milk fat found at dairies. Also, the agency is apparently on a mission to simply outlaw dust, which is totally impractical in a state where gravel roads and crop fields dominate the landscape.
Last April, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson convened a forum to “reinvigorate EPA’s approaches to achieving clean water in America.” The agency is now on a mission to regulate every mud puddle in the nation. This approach will do far more to promote nightmarish bureaucracy than clean water. It’s a mystery as to how the EPA will regulate the forces of nature, such as natural soil erosion that occurs in flowing rivers, or the nutrients deposited by wildlife in the ordinary course of digestion.
Farm Bureau supports clean air, water, and land. Farmers have a vested interest in sound environmental stewardship. And they are doing a good job of producing more feed, fiber and fuel on fewer acres, with fewer inputs than ever before. American farmers today are producing 150 percent more feed, fiber, and fuel using the same amount of inputs (including water) as they used in 1949.
The problem with so many of EPA’s proposals is that they are not based in sound science and they have no proven benefit. They impose burdensome regulation and economic hardship – impacting jobs, agriculture, and the economy – without any proof they will accomplish anything other than regulating agriculture and commerce to a standstill.
Scott VanderWal, South Dakota Farm Bureau president
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