Remember how Charlie Brown felt each time Lucy assured him that, this time, she really was going to hold the football for him to kick – and not pull it away at the last moment, causing him to fall flat on his back once again?
That must be how Joan Harman and other members of the West Virginia Farm Bureau feel about the Environmental Protection Agency, following the stay issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit blocking the agency from enforcing a new rule that extends its authority to virtually all “bodies of water” in the United States.
Harman and her colleagues understand the burden that the rule, had it not been stayed, would have placed on farmers (and others), ultimately requiring them to apply for permits every time they want to make even minute modifications to their property.
“If they want to dig holes, if they change the type of crops they’re going to plant, if they want to apply pesticides or fertilizers,” farmers would need a permit, she said.
“You’re required to do impact studies that are expensive and take months to do,” Harman explained, “and when you’re trying to get a crop into the ground, you don’t have months to fool around, to get permission to apply fertilizers to your crops. It could cost a farmer an entire season worth of work and put him out of business.”
Harman emphasized that the adverse effects of the rule would not be felt by farmers alone, but would extend to other industries and even to homeowners.
“If you're a household with a pond in your backyard and you want to fertilize your lawn, if you put fertilizer near that pond, you’re violating that new rule,” she warned.
“I see the stay as a victory,” Harman said. “However, we don’t know how long that stay is going to remain in place,” as the case winds through the judicial system.
The only thing we do know is not to trust a federal agency which acts as if it’s above the law.