In the Feb 25 edition of The Economist, the UK-based publication demonstrated it has little awareness of the abuse delivered by the EPA against farmers, nor of its regulatory overreach documented on numerous occasions.
Using an extreme example of a much-needed environmental cleanup effort, the reporter jumps from this one instance to attack the new administration for complaining about abuses:
The state of the Anacostia, and hundreds of other polluted waterways, is a rebuke to the argument, levelled by Donald Trump and other Republicans, that the EPA is running wild. At a rally in Florida on February 18th, Mr Trump said the agency was “clogging up the veins of the country with the environmental impact statements and all of the rules and regulations”. Addressing staff at the EPA on February 21st, its incoming director Scott Pruitt, who as attorney-general of Oklahoma sued the agency 14 times, suggested the unclogging would involve ending the agency’s regulatory “abuses”.
Farmers know a lot about these abuses and farmers in Washington state maybe know more than any. What's Upstream is the tip of the iceberg, but a pretty darn big tip. Illegally spending taxpayer money to support a vicious, false and overtly political attack on farmers is just one of many examples of this abuse. Senators Roberts and Inhofe made this reputation clear in their letter complaining about What's Upstream to previous Director McCarthy.
While we have little hope of it being aired, we submitted this letter to the editor of the Economist in response to the ignorance of EPA abuse demonstrated in their article.
Letter to the Editor
February 27, 2017
Your happy assessment of the EPA versus your grim assessment of its new leader glosses over an important fact: EPA overreach is real. Take the example of Washington state where the Region 10 Administrator approved the use of $655,000 of taxpayer’s money to fund a vicious, false and overtly political attack on our farmers. One-third of Congress and three Congressional Chairs complained prompting an Office of Inspector General audit. An earlier audit had already faulted this region for lack of oversight over sub-awards including the sub-award used to attack farmers. Native American tribes received received 14% of EPA’s $1.5 bn discretionary grants in FY 2013-2015, yet the EPA claims they have no control how the tribes spend this money once granted. In this case, tribal leaders used it to build political support for anti-farm legislation. Other examples of EPA’s antagonism toward farmers include obtaining illegal search warrants and creating phony science studies which it then used to force farmers into farm-killing requirements with minimal environmental benefit.
Rural America rose up in this last election. Reporters seriously looking for reasons for this may find some answers in this agency’s treatment of America’s farmers.
A new model is appearing. Today's farmers and tribal leaders are realizing that their mutual goals are best pursued by working together rather than through animosity, litigation and false accusations. It's happening in our state with increasing frequency. A dairy farm in Monroe has been working with the Tulalip Tribe for many years on a bio-gas digester that converts manure to electricity and bacteria-free nutrients. Now, in what may serve as a model across the state and beyond, Whatcom dairy farmers and Lummi Nation leaders have established an innovative partnership to reopen shellfish beds and clean the water in the Nooksack River basin.
Seattle Times front page Sunday January 15 article on the Partnership.
Read all the details on Whatcom Family Farmers website.
There are Tribes, one in particular, that have set a course of win-lose. For them to win, they believe farmers must lose. Records show that even the EPA, even EPA Administrator McLerran begged them to take a collaborative approach. But no, that was rejected. Sadly for all of us, the Administrator folded before their antagonism. The result of that very poor decision was What's Upstream.
The Portage Bay Partnership in Whatcom County will be watched closely by many. We hope that all Tribes of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission are watching as closely as the farming community will. We encourage all who care about the future of farming and securing the treaty rights of our friends and neighbors in the Tribal communities to reach out to these innovative farmers and Tribal leaders to encourage them in making this Partnership the model for the future.
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