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Wednesday June 11th, 2014   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 7:00am PDT   •  

EPA-Logo_200The proposed budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency for fiscal year 2015 is $7.89 billion. That should be plenty of money for the EPA to colonize more of American life.

As Keith Matheny notes in the Lansing State Journal, the EPA is advancing new regulations that will make life more difficult for farmers. According to Laura Campbell of the Michigan Farm Bureau, the rules could require federal permits to modify a farm’s drainage ditches that are dry 11 months of the year. Dan Wyant, director of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, told Matheny that the regulations will “require more permitting, slow business down and cost more time and expense to business owners; there’s just no doubt about that.”

Iowa farmer Dean Lemke told Ron Nixon of the New York Times, “If I have to go to the EPA to figure out if I need a permit because a ditch I’m planting next to sometimes has water in it, that’s time I’m not planting. And if I’m not planting, I’m not making money.”

EPA critics have a strong case that the rules will quash economic growth, infringe on property rights, and increase the price of food. This is clearly a power grab on the part of the federal agency, and that should come as no surprise. As James V. DeLong noted in Out of Bounds, Out of Control, the EPA has few checks on its authority, writes rules with limited guidance from Congress, and has created entire programs out of thin air by changing the standard of evidence as it prosecutes alleged violations.

As we noted in EPChe: An Expensive, Oppressive Agency Gets a Symbol, the federal agency abounds in regulatory zealots. Consider how Al Armendariz, an EPA regional boss and Obama appointee, described the EPA enforcement style: “It is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer villages in the Mediterranean — they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then that little town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

The EPA is not the only obstruction to sound water policies. As Rep. Tom McClintock notes, federal policy abets California’s current drought by making it difficult to expand dams and water storage facilities. This stems from a “nihilistic vision of increasingly severe government-induced shortages, higher and higher electricity and water prices, massive taxpayer subsidies to politically well-connected and favored industries, and a permanently declining quality of life for our children.”

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June 2014