In Lieutenant governor candidate Kuisle visits Worthington, the Worthington Daily Globe's Ryan McGaughey reports:
“Right now the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is pushing what they call a dish rule, in order to gain more control of water and where it runs off from,” he [Bill Kuisle, endorsed Republican lieutenant governor candidate] said, also indicating that rising property tax rates for ag land is the most important issue for farmers. “I’ve been working with a couple of different farm groups to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
We googled and checked Nexis for "dish rule" and didn't come up with much, but think that Kuisle is spouting anti-water rule talking points from the Farm Bureau and similar groups. The Hill takes a look at the criticism here of the “Waters of the United States” rule to clarify regulations governing which bodies of water fall under federal jurisdiction and permitting requirements.
More recently in the Hill, Peter Lehner of the Natural Resources Defense Council took on the criticisms in Wave of phony charges over new clean water safeguards:
You’d never know from this overheated rhetoric that the proposal would leave fewer waters protected than was the case under President Reagan or that many tributary streams had been protected against pollution by federal law since William McKinley was president in 1899.
Much of this over-the-top criticism has come from oft-cited polluters, like the mining industry. Yet, some of the most strident charges have come from agribusiness interests. One writer declared, “The 370-page rule may as well be written in farmers’ blood.” The irony is that, thanks to numerous exemptions in the law and the regulations, agriculture is actually the least regulated of any sector. But no doubt some polluters are happy to see the powerful farm lobby, well, carrying water for them.
The comment period for the new proposal will close in October, but some in Congress aren’t waiting. They’re already offering legislation to block the initiative, riding this flood of misinformation. So let’s part the waters of myth and get down to the truth.
• Claim: The American Farm Bureau Federation tweets that the proposal “gives the fed gov control over all farming and land use.”
• Truth: The clean water safeguards explicitly exempt irrigated areas, farm ponds and dozens of other agricultural practices. They also reduce coverage of “ditches,” a favorite Farm Bureau talking point.
• Claim: The Farm Bureau says certain permitting exemptions for agriculture apply only to land that has been continually farmed since 1977.
• Truth: This is simply wrong. There is no 1977 trigger date for the exemptions, and they are available to anyone engaged in “normal farming,” which allows for crop rotations, fallow fields and other practices that may vary over time.
There's more--check it out at The Hill.
Maybe Kuisle meant "ditch rule" or "Ditch the Rule," the slogan used by some ag groups to instill fear of the clarification.
But there's more in the Globe:
Added Kuisle later: “What you’ve seen over the last 30 or 40 years — and probably accelerated in the last 10 or 15 years — is more regulation coming in that (road construction) industry, with the need for storm retention ponds and wetlands placements. … We couldn’t have built I-90 with today’s rules and regulations.
“We need to back up and see what’s really needed, and not over-regulate and not build roads because of the prices we’re seeing."
Actually, I-90 in Minnesota, which began with a bypass of Austin in 1961, was completed in 1978 p. 24]. The 1970s marked a period of great upheaval in the way Americans did the business of highway building--from more citizen input to "Addressing the Quiet Crisis" of environmental degradation.
In the study, "Addressing the Quiet Crisis", Richard F. Weingroff of the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Infrastructure examines the origins and implications of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 on the interstate system, concluding:
. . .The program and the reputation of road builders "were tarnished." After initial resistance, the road builders realized that NEPA was not innocuous. With "grudging reluctance," the highway community came to see that "NEPA, the whole elevation of environmental consciousness, has been a positive influence on the FHWA and on our program." Dr. Larson continued:
Yes, it was inconvenient. Yes, it slows things up. And yes, it costs more. But I firmly believe the results are worth it. In the years since NEPA, we have built hundreds of highway projects that are "good neighbors." Some people still consider highways the "route" of all evil, but to a large extent NEPA, and the FHWA's implementation of it, have helped to restore a more favorable public impression and acceptance of our work.
The change in how the highway community went about its business, "while initially unsettling has proved to be profound and positive." [Larson, Thomas D., "Earth Day-More Than a Second Thought," Administrator's Note, Vol. I, Note 32, April 20, 1990, unpublished].
And yes, I-90 was completed.
As for Kuisle's scorn of storm retention ponds and "wetlands placements," we are left simply shaking our head. After this week's record-busitng rainfall and flooding, we have to wonder about a guy who opposes the cost of these deluge mitigation measures. The last thing lakes, rivers and creeks needed was an additional rush of water from a road or drained wetland upstream, much less the nutrients and chemicals their absence would add to the lakes, rivers and Gulf of Mexico.
Moreover, we're curious why wet detentions ponds, which have been used widely across the United States for many years, are suddenly an emblem of Big Government, rather than a sensible best management practice that helps keep an upstream road's run-off out of the downstream neighbor's basement, while detering flooding ditches and creeks from widening and hauling off farmers' fields.
The ponds are nothing new, nor is the concern for construction stormwater. The MPCA notes on its Stormwater Program for Construction Activity page:
When stormwater drains off a construction site, it carries sediment and other pollutants that harm lakes, streams and wetlands. According to the 1996 National Water Quality Inventory, stormwater runoff is a leading source of water pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 20 to 150 tons of soil per acre is lost every year to stormwater runoff from construction sites.
Many studies indicate that controlling erosion can significantly reduce the amount of sedimentation and other pollutants transported by runoff from construction sites. To keep Minnesota’s valuable water resources clean the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issues permits to construction site owners and their operators to prevent stormwater pollution during and after construction.
The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972.
Curiously, while in the House, Kuisle favored borrowing for road construction, while cutting costs on routine maintenance. MPR reported in 2003:
. . .Minnesota would also get an advance of federal transportation money, for a total infusion of up to $900 million. Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, says the state will pay more than $200 million in interest on the bonds, which will reduce money available for transportation in the future.
"This is borrowed money, borrowed time, borrowed for our roads, and it's a big giant step to nowhere," says Juhnke.
The bonds will be paid for with savings from cuts to MnDOT for road maintenance and other unspecified areas.
One wonders if this character is the guy who took "conserve" out of conservative.
Photo: An example of a vegetated buffer adjacent to a construction site. Via MPCA.
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