Sometimes, the best thing that government can do for folks is to stay out of the way. That’s especially true when it comes to our agricultural economy. Farmers work hard every day, and the last thing they need is more layers of regulation imposed on them by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, for eight long years under President Obama, that is exactly what they got. And the agency that seemed hungriest to regulate the lives of farmers was the Obama Environmental Protection Agency.
Epitomizing the problem was the Obama EPA’s 2015 Waters of the United States Rule — a power grab that was also a water and land grab. It assumed that a federal regulatory agency, and not Congress or our Constitution, ought to be able to determine without limit what it should regulate. It so broadly expanded the jurisdiction of the federal government that it had to explicitly say that it didn’t mean to cover swimming pools!
Some of the WOTUS Rule was somewhat technical, so I will simplify it. The Obama EPA essentially asked: Is there or has there ever been any water on your land? If the answer was yes — even a puddle — then the federal government pretty much claimed the right to regulate it.
It has been an honor to help lead the fight to resist this power seizure. On the same day that the final WOTUS rule was published, I filed a Complaint alongside the Attorneys General from Michigan, and we promptly were joined by Tennessee. Overall, some 31 States sued to challenge the Rule. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, based right here in Ohio, saw the Rule for what it was and issued a nationwide injunction against its enforcement.
Another place where the EPA is showing newfound common sense under their new leadership is in the area of pesticides. The Obama EPA attempted to ban the most commonly used pesticide in the world. After they were thwarted by their own Science Advisory Panel, who said that their rationale for the proposed ban didn’t meet their scientific threshold, they took a second run at a ban in the waning days of the Obama Administration. The Pruitt EPA has rightly said that before we ban a product that we know to be effective in pest management, we ought to be certain that it is hazardous to human health if used as directed.
These issues are deeply personal to me. My family owned a seed company in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and Fran and I still own farmland today. Growing up I worked alongside my parents and grandparents. I worked in the fields and loaded bags onto boxcars. It taught me the values of hard work, personal responsibility, and of honoring my word. Our agricultural economy is benefitting from a return to regulatory sanity. God knows farming is hard enough without the added burden of having to worry if someone from the government is going to come knocking on the door.
Mike DeWine is the attorney general for Ohio and a Republican candidate for governor. This column originally appeared in The Lima News.