Whatever floats your boat – #DitchTheRule

“Navigable waters.” According to the internet, the accepted definition is: “deep and wide enough for boats and ships to travel on or through: capable of being navigated.”

Apparently that’s true for everyone…but EPA.

The new proposed ruling for the expanded Clean Water Act from the EPA would become the most far-reaching regulations we’ve yet seen from this regulatory agency. It’s meant to clarify what is determined as “Waters of the US.” In essence, almost any place that water could collect could be subject to regulation and the permitting process.

The CWA was started in 1972 as a way to curb pollution into what was determined navigable water from a single source – without a federal permit.

Most people would probably be amazed at what all requires permission from someone else in order to simply do something…even on your own property. There are permits to build stuff, permits to take down stuff, permits to use water, permits to take away water – I’m sure there are probably even agencies that have permits in order for another agency to allow permits. The process is essentially the same. You apply, based on whatever rules and regulations have been drawn up. You explain why you should be allowed a permit to complete whatever action or build whatever structure you have planned. You present your application with the proper fee, determined by the regulatory board or by law, and you wait to hear back.

Here’s the catch: there is no legal right to be allowed a permit. That’s right, even if you dot your I’s and cross your T’s and pay the fees and fill out each form in triplicate and you state sound reasons as to why your permit should be granted and have science on your side, you may be turned down.  Because we all know that decisions don’t always make sense.

And you may not find out if you’ve been granted a permit or if you’ve been turned down for days, or weeks, or months – we all know how speedy the federal government works, right?

Using conservation and good stewardship is nothing new to our farm. We make decisions every day based on what we feel will be best for tomorrow.

Using conservation and good stewardship is nothing new to our farm. We make decisions every day based on what we feel will be best for tomorrow.

So let me try to wrap this up in a nut shell with a completely plausible scenario: Let’s say you’re a farmer that raises cattle, and cattle poop, and you want to use the natural fertilizer that you’ve been given. Let’s say that the field you want to fertilize has a low spot that collects water when it rains. Imagine now having to fill out paperwork and a permit in order to use that fertilizer near that low spot because it may collect water at some point in time?

So why use the fertilizer? Well, it helps your crops grow to their potential, it provides better grass for our cattle and it’s cheaper to use the product that nature is already providing. And remember, we’re talking about a spot that may/may not hold water at any point in the year. Yet the amount of water held isn’t in question. When the water is held there isn’t in question. It’s simply the ability for the ground to hold water that determines whether or not the CWA is applicable.

A single drop of water...is that all it would take?

A single drop of water…is that all it would take?

The good news? It’s not too late. The proposed rule changes are open to public comment through July 21 by visiting the website at http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm, or through the FBAct Insider page at: http://capwiz.com/afb/issues/alert/?alertid=63192396.

Laws and regulations that expand government reach and hurt our local economies will continue to be passed unless we’re willing to stand up and protect our rights for future generations. We need to let the EPA know that they need to #DitchTheRule.

My four boys drink from the hydrant in our yard. And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to ensure that our water is safe for generations to come. Our family farm has been making improvements to our methods of farming for generations, not through regulations and laws, but through using common sense and stewardship.

The CWA was set up to protect places that could float a boat. My field is not such a place. My ditch is not such a place. My yard is not such a place. Not a single one of these places could float my boat…and neither does this rule.

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3 thoughts on “Whatever floats your boat – #DitchTheRule

  1. Dear Val,
    I am sorry that you have hit upon this wonderful world of bureaucrats. When Obama first took office, a bureaucracy that I bump into all the time, the Small Business Administration, decided “Yippee, finally an administration that will let us do what we want!” And they did. At exactly the wrong time for the economy. When help should have been arriving, the cavalry turned into the enemy.

    For over twenty years I have been helping people across the country sell their small businesses, and the SBA isn’t the only potential problem. Sometimes the client does not control their professional resources, especially attorneys, and they kill the deals.

    The Obama administration was (and to a large extent still is) incapable of directing the huge administration that is involved in that complicated project called “governing” this great country. The number of high-paying jobs in government has skyrocketed in the last five years, but performance is still lacking. When left to their own devices, some government functionaries will dive into the rule book…and come up with the wrong answer.

    Baseball is more than a sport to me. Can’t exactly describe it, but trust me, it is more. This spring, the rule-enforcers decided to strictly interpret a rule involving the transfer of the ball from the glove to the throwing hand and instructed the umpires to call the plays accordingly. They did. It was a disaster. Baseball corrected the problem.

    Unfortunately, Val, there are some “empires” in the bureaucracy that go about inflicting damage without any checks and balances. Our government was carefully designed by the founders to recognize the fallibility of human nature when given power and no oversight. The EPA is one of the worst,

    OSHA was a big violator a few years ago, coming onto a construction site like a weasel in a hen house, taking their side cutters to any extension cord they could find with a dent or scratch. Just out to destroy and exert power.

    Notice the operative word when discussing all of these agencies–power. Mix power and human nature together, and the results are sometimes not very pretty.

    Your only solution is to match their power with some of your own. Fortunately, my experience (although years ago) with the congressional delegations from South Dakota and North Dakota is that they are responsive to well-reasoned issues and can be a big help.

    Good luck.

  2. Love the fence photo! Your illustration of drinking out of the hose hit home with this country girl as well. Thank you for sharing your voice, Val, and encouraging others to do the same.

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