Clean Water Conundrum: Ditch The Rule Or Ditch The Myths? [Opinion]

Frank GilesA little something I’ve noticed coming out of Washington, DC, in recent years is sort of a snarkiness aimed toward anyone outside the Beltway who raises a voice of opposition to new laws or regulations. It is like a teacher patting a student on the head and telling him to go sit in the corner because he’s just not smart enough to comprehend the policy wonkiness of federal governance.

There’s a fine example of this going on right now as EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers seek to redefine the term “waters of the United States” in the Clean Water Act. The proposed change is up for public comment until Oct. 20, 2014.

Opposition groups raised the alarm, saying the rule change could put ditches on farms under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The American Farm Bureau has even mounted a campaign called “Ditch The Rule” (DitchTheRule.fb.org). For you Twitter followers, it’s #DitchTheRule.

EPA has countered with reliable DC sarcasm, saying the Farm Bureau is trying to trick you into believing the government wants to take more control over your property rights. In fact, EPA insists this rule change is intended to help growers by clarifying the definition and cutting red tape. They even countered with their own Twitter campaign #DitchTheMyths (www2.epa.gov/uswaters/ditch-myth).

I’ve not read all of the 88-page proposed rule. Nor, like most of you, am I a lawyer, which is helpful in making out the legalese in these rules. So, here I am having the Farm Bureau telling me one thing and the EPA telling me I am a fool if I believe them. When EPA started Tweeting #DitchTheMyths, I asked the Farm Bureau if they intended to reply. Boy, did they ever, taking on point-by-point EPA’s alleged myths. Let’s start with the EPA Tweet illustrated here.

Farm Bureau responds: While the rule would not categorically regulate all puddles, it would regulate low spots that puddle often enough to meet the broad definition of “wetlands” if those low spots are in a “floodplain” or a “riparian area” or if they, combined with other low spots in the region, have a “significant nexus” to any other “waters of the U.S.” Clear as mud, right?

It used to be that new laws or regulations were more straightforward and would fit on a few pages of paper. Today, new laws fill hundreds of pages and there’s a lot of “The Secretary/Administrator shall determine …” language in the legislation. That means Congress is not really writing the laws anymore — unelected regulators are making the rules that we must live and work under.

Have we as a people become so much more complicated that what once could be communicated on a few pages now takes hundreds? Or, is it those DC-insiders want to keep their good gig going by justifying their existence with more and more regulations?

In the case of EPA’s definition of “waters of the USA,” I encourage you to read both sides of the argument. I will leave it to you to decide which side is being more truthful. But, perhaps this question might be instructive in your decision. Which organization has historically made it easier for you to farm — the EPA or the American Farm Bureau?

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
Washington Capitol building
CitrusHouse Passes Bill To Block State GMO Food Labeling Mandates
July 27, 2015
The legislation would offer a federal standard for voluntary labeling of foods containing GMOs.   Read More
Citrus2 Dozen Florida Nurseries Vying For Coveted Cannabis Growing Licenses
July 27, 2015
With only five spots available to produce the low-THC ‘Charlotte’s Web’ strain, tedious review process is in full swing. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateSecond Case In A Month Of Citrus Greening In California
July 24, 2015
More trees testing positive for disease within close proximity of original find. Read More
CitrusUSDA Expands Crop Insurance Options For Fruit And Nut Growers
July 24, 2015
The USDA announced the expansion of crop insurance to provide additional options for fruit and nut producers. The Supplemental Coverage Read More
FFVA 2015 Annual Convention logo
CitrusFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Annual Convention Stacking Up To Be One For The Ages
July 23, 2015
Association's 72nd gathering to feature high-profile speakers, up-to-the-minute Issues Forums, and some fun to mix in with the business of the day. Read More
CitrusMarketing Order Amendments Referendum Set For Fresh Florida Citrus
July 22, 2015
Changes include the authorization and regulation of new varieties. Read More
Shannon Shepp
CitrusInterim Executive Director Named For Florida Department Of Citrus
July 22, 2015
Shannon Shepp will take on leadership duties immediately after unanimous Citrus Commission vote. Read More
The Latest
CitrusWestern Growers Praises Introduction Of California Emer…
July 30, 2015
Legislation contains short- and long-term provisions to deal with the historic drought. Read More
CitrusGroup Food Safety Audits May Help Prepare You For The P…
July 29, 2015
Group food safety audits, slated to be available next spring, may save small- to mid-size growers time and money. Read More
CitrusNew Director Named For Florida’s Citrus Research And Ed…
July 28, 2015
Michael Rogers takes a positive charge at finding solutions to greening. Read More
Washington Capitol building
CitrusHouse Passes Bill To Block State GMO Food Labeling Mand…
July 27, 2015
The legislation would offer a federal standard for voluntary labeling of foods containing GMOs.   Read More
Citrus2 Dozen Florida Nurseries Vying For Coveted Cannabis Gr…
July 27, 2015
With only five spots available to produce the low-THC ‘Charlotte’s Web’ strain, tedious review process is in full swing. Read More
CitrusUSDA Expands Crop Insurance Options For Fruit And Nut G…
July 24, 2015
The USDA announced the expansion of crop insurance to provide additional options for fruit and nut producers. The Supplemental Coverage Read More
FFVA 2015 Annual Convention logo
CitrusFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Annual Conven…
July 23, 2015
Association's 72nd gathering to feature high-profile speakers, up-to-the-minute Issues Forums, and some fun to mix in with the business of the day. Read More
CitrusMarketing Order Amendments Referendum Set For Fresh Flo…
July 22, 2015
Changes include the authorization and regulation of new varieties. Read More
Shannon Shepp
CitrusInterim Executive Director Named For Florida Department…
July 22, 2015
Shannon Shepp will take on leadership duties immediately after unanimous Citrus Commission vote. Read More
CitrusInternational Report Confirms 2014 As Earth’s Warmest Y…
July 21, 2015
Scientific compilation notes climate markers continue to show global warming trend. Read More
non-gmo label leafy greens
CitrusGMO Labeling Battle Moves To House Floor
July 21, 2015
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 was passed by the Agriculture Committee last week and will head Read More
Doug Ackerman
CitrusFlorida Department Of Citrus Executive Director Resigns
July 21, 2015
Doug Ackerman steps down after traffic incident. Read More
CitrusWOTUS Wranglings Leaving Agriculture High And Dry [Opin…
July 17, 2015
In late May, the EPA announced the highly anticipated final rule re-defining the waters of the United States (WOTUS) under Read More
man expressing opinion through bullhorn
CitrusStay Opinionated, My Farmer Friends
July 15, 2015
How far are you willing to go to defend your beliefs? Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Water Managers Keeping Close Eye On Dry C…
July 15, 2015
Traditional wet season has been anything but so far as certain parts of the region now experiencing “extreme drought.” Read More
Washington Capitol building
CitrusUnited Fresh Washington Conference Connects You With Ke…
July 14, 2015
United Fresh has announced the Washington Conference, which will be held Sept. 28-30 in Washington D.C. The conference offers an Read More
CitrusEl Niño Could Be Strongest In 50 Years
July 14, 2015
In the latest AccuWeather report, Brett Anderson, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather says El Niño has strengthened over the past few Read More
CitrusReport: Climate Change Threat To Bumblebee Populations
July 13, 2015
According to a news release from the University of Vermont, in the most comprehensive study ever conducted of the impacts Read More