Letter to the editor: EPA misfires with WOTUS

With the EPA threatening to enforce its egregious Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rules, farmers and ranchers are among a growing list of Americans who fear the heavy hand of a bureaucratic federal agency.

During a recent town hall meeting, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said the EPA is the most hated federal agency in his fourth congressional district. We might extend the coverage to include all of Oklahoma and, I imagine, the good folks in Colorado and New Mexico are not too happy with the EPA after their recent blunder with mine waste in the Animas River.

Why so much concern about federal agencies? The main reason is the promulgation of regulations, many of which are considered unnecessary.

The list of concerned, hard-working citizens includes those in agriculture, energy and actually any business impacted by federal regulations.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

We should not fear or hate our government. I believe what has happened is a severe lack of responsibility by federal agencies. We vote for elected officials but we don’t vote for agency directors.

EPA Director Gina McCarthy is acting as though she is responsible to no one.  Congress has repeatedly told the EPA not to push forward on WOTUS. Oklahoma’s Attorney General, along with attorneys general from other states, have filed lawsuits to stop the EPA enforcement of WOTUS. The EPA has ignored Congress, and by extension, ignored the will and desire of the people.

If the EPA enforces WOTUS, Oklahoma farmers and ranchers could see federal regulators traipsing across their land, searching for mud holes, buffalo wallows and other areas with the potential to hold water and thus fall under the new regulations. Once a mud hole is declared, land management practices could be restricted. Such restrictions could include limited use of fertilizer, herbicides and livestock grazing.

There is a true, realistic fear that, despite the best land use management, backed by years of scientific research, farmers and ranchers could be severely penalized.  Food production will decrease, costs will increase and consumers will suffer.

As an agricultural producer, I want to help feed and clothe the world while leaving the land in good shape for the next generation. How can I do that if the federal government tells me production is no longer important?  Where will we get the resources to feed the world?

I urge everyone to communicate their concerns with elected officials and hold agencies responsible for their actions.