Well, it looks like summer has finally come to Wyoming. As I’ve traveled around the state the last few weeks, two statements are often heard, “I’ve never seen the state look so good,” and, “I need more cows.” In the name of being positive, I guess we are only three weeks away from a drought instead of two. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts; it really is nice not having to worry about water or grass. Across most of the state we are blessed this summer. It just took a while to get here.
Talking about all of the water we’re seeing, if events go as some are planning in Washington, D.C. we may not have much control over our water in the future. Sometimes I wonder what is in the D.C. water. Some of the legislation coming out of that city is just junk lately.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed Senate Bill 787 (Clean Water Restoration Act, CWRA) on June 18. We had always thought the Senate had some common sense and would let the states regulate their own water. Three Senators amended this senate bill at markup by removing the word “navigable” from the definition and replacing it with “all intrastate waters and interstate waters” meaning “all waters.” This would place federal control over stock tanks, drainage ditches and maybe even the puddles in the driveway, under the federal government regulation. That is a comforting thought, isn’t it? Some are even saying it would affect ground water. Everyone against it is saying it is a violation of our private lands rights, which seem to be in jeopardy more and more the last few months. The Clean Water Act has made our lives miserable enough without this legislation.
Everyone is for clean water, but it takes cooperation and education to get there. We have all seen the great work our conservation districts have done in past years to address the issue. Total daily maximum loads (TMDL’s) in the original act have scared most of the districts into a wait-and-see mode. Who can say what affect the passage of this new legislation will have on our state?
This action was brought on by two U.S. Supreme Court rulings that diminished the power of the Clean Water Act over all waters. If the Supreme Court rules a law fails to meet the constitutional intent, maybe it’s a darn sure sign we need to quit pushing the envelope. But of course some activists want it all their way, so we are back in the fight.
How about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposing to classify greenhouse gases as a public health risk? This may place ranchers, farmers and feedlot operators at risk for litigation from those who don’t like your diesel tractors or the methane gas expelled by livestock. At some point the public is going to have to come to terms with those who raise food and fiber for everyone else. We can’t make all ranches and farms a Yellowstone Park and then have to buy our food from some other country.