By Senator John Thune
I strongly believe in the outdoor heritage that makes South Dakota such an amazing place to live, work, and raise a family. Whether it’s earning a living off of the land, like so many of our hard-working farmers and ranchers, or enjoying a weekend pheasant hunt with friends and family, South Dakotans take seriously their responsibility to help protect the outdoors.
While certain protections are necessary to ensure these resources are available for future generations, there are limits to the federal government’s role. In some cases, the rules and regulations that come out of Washington, D.C., specifically the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), can often cause more harm than good in places like South Dakota.
Many of the Washington bureaucrats who write and implement these rules have never stepped foot in the states in which the rules will apply. Therein lies the problem: Rule-makers in Washington’s concrete jungle are forcing agriculture producers, homeowners, and small businesses across the country to comply with rules that will have devastating effects in rural America.
Take, for example, last week’s EPA announcement on the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), which is one of the largest federal government power grabs over private land we’ve ever seen. The EPA’s broad new definition of U.S. waterways could classify a small ditch or creek on South Dakota farmland or housing subdivisions as a waterway, which under these new rules, could now be subject to federal permitting, compliance costs, and potentially significant penalties and fines. I am especially concerned about the EPA claiming jurisdiction in the Prairie Pothole Region throughout East River.
The EPA delivered a one-two punch to South Dakota farmers last week, when following its WOTUS announcement, it proposed new Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS) volume requirements for 2014-2016. Not only do the EPA’s proposed requirements fall short of the RFS volumes first prescribed by Congress, but they fail to provide the certainty needed to spur investment in our domestic biofuels industry.
I strongly oppose EPA’s overreach, and will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to do whatever is possible to block these heavy-handed regulations and help mitigate the damage they will inevitably cause to South Dakotans.