Dan Benishek is keeping busy these days. Between breaking promises not to run for a fourth term because he has to help the veterans and attending dedication ceremonies for post offices, he also wants to be known as the congressman who’s looking out for farmers. Like other Republicans, he’s mad at the Environmental Protection Agency for trying to do a better job protecting American water. Why? Because according to Benishek, if the EPA gets their way, farmers in Michigan won’t be able to farm anymore:
“Under the guise of protecting our waterways, today’s announcement by the EPA is nothing more than a power grab that will add more bureaucracy without any real benefit. Among the most impacted will be farmers, and agriculture is a major part of our economy in Northern Michigan. From talking to farmers around our district, they feel like the EPA has railroaded them with this new rule without justification and without understanding the impact it will have on jobs. This is exactly the type of bureaucratic red tape that we do not need. I will continue to fight against this rule so that farms and businesses in our community do not suffer needless regulatory burden.”
It seems odd that Dan Benishek would talk to farmers about the new Waters of the United States rule, as it’s stated that this new rule makes no changes to agricultural use of water at all, and in fact expands agricultural exemptions in some cases. Why are farmers concerned about a rule that will not affect their ability to farm?
The Waters of the United States rule is a clarification of the 1972 Clean Water Act. The purpose of this act is to keep major bodies of water in the United States clean of pollution, and this means regulating the waterways that feed those large bodies of water. The Supreme Court ruled that the act wasn’t clear enough in 2001 and 2006, and the Waters of the United States rule is an attempt by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to better explain what the act is supposed to do. So why is this controversial?
Because President Obama. He’s using his constitutionally legal executive authority to make it happen. Anything President Obama wants, whether it’s clean water or the Heritage Foundation’s plan to make everyone buy health insurance, Congress instantly has to hate it and do everything they can to stop him. This is where the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act comes in.
This act voted by the House and now in committee in the Senate would stop the EPA from using the Waters of the United States rule because despite it not affecting water used for agriculture in any way, Republicans like Dan Benishek insist it will. Even though it won’t.
What could be the real reason for Republicans wanting to stop the EPA’s attempt at clarifying the Clean Water Act? Perhaps it has to do with the EPA’s report on fracking that will be released in 2016. It was supposed to be released in 2014, but had to be delayed. The fracking industry is exempt from following regulations set by the Safe Drinking Water Act through the Energy Policy Act passed by Congress in 2005 under the direction of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
The Energy Policy Act, which Congress passed in 2005, exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which seeks to protect the public water supply from contamination from toxic materials. The oil and gas industry could lose this loophole if the EPA study finds that fracking has negative consequences for public water supply.
By deflecting American attention away from the real purpose, Republicans want us to think President Obama is destroying jobs for clean water. Making sure corporations aren’t poisoning us with toxic chemicals in our water and air is why the EPA exists. Republicans are determined to hamstring the EPA, and we don’t need to waste time wondering why.
Dan says he’s doing it for the farmers. Just like he consistently votes to cut veteran’s benefits because he cares about veterans. Sure Dan, Northern Michigan can trust you to keep your word.