Actions Have Consequences… Unless You’re the EPA


August 10, 2015 1:42PM

Oops. Last week, a team from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was investigating pollutants at the Gold King Mine when it accidentally released an estimated three million gallons of mining waste into the Animas River—a tributary of the larger San Juan River, flowing 126 miles as part of the Colorado River system. Local swimmers and kayakers were greeted with bright orange water that, as Newsweek suggested, resembled “boxed mac & cheese.” Subsequent statements from the EPA promised prompt action to address the damage, and expressed remorse for having been the root cause of a problem they’re entire existence is charged with stemming.

In their case, it seems that “we’re sorry” is all that we the people are going to get. What else can we do? The EPA is an unelected body of bureaucrats. But we all know what happens to private industry when they make mistakes, large and small, that lead to environmental disasters and contamination. Just ask BP, or moving forward, your state energy producers and farmers. Yes, farmers.

Earlier this year, the EPA released the now infamous plans for a dramatic expansion of its powers to regulate state energy production and waterways. Known as the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Act, these new standards will supposedly force states into becoming better stewards of the environment. Both regulatory agendas will also come with strict consequences for energy producers, as well as landowners—namely, farmers with potential “waterways” on their property—who fail to comply with these broad and subjective mandates.

For example, a new rule under the Clean Water Act would massively expand the EPA’s power to control essentially all water—even mud puddles and ditches on personal property. This is particularly harmful to our family farmers, but will also cause food prices to rise for everyone in our state. Additionally, these mandates also subject farmers to possible fines of $37,000 per violation, per day.

It seems that this unaccountable body is bent on wielding arbitrary rules to hold industries, as well as unsuspecting citizens, responsible for even the smallest of breaches on their own land, while denying us the same recourse when it contaminates an entire river system. Tennessee legislators are right to demand we join a multi-state lawsuit over the Clean Water Act as well as the Clean Power Plan—and refuse to comply with the EPA’s draconian schemes throughout the legal process.